Advertising has been a promotional mainstay for hundreds of years but has developed into an essential marketing tool for modern businesses. Traditional printed outlets like newspapers and magazines are still a viable option, but with the growth of online media consumption, the avenues for other forms of marketing are abundant. With consumers facing a daily barrage of advertising in every aspect of their lives, the savvy business owner needs to take advantage of the most effective forms of advertising and adapt their business’s marketing plan to embrace new opportunities.
Almost every business now has a website, but many are poorly constructed, hard to use and not very helpful. Make sure your website is based on sound design principles, is kept fresh and stylish and contains well-written, interesting content that users will find valuable. Sites need to be easily and logically navigable and contain all the information about your company that a potential customer needs to know. Don’t forget that increasing numbers of people use their smartphones and tablets for web browsing, so if your website isn’t optimised for mobile you could lose a lot of custom, and will certainly come across as unprofessional. If you don’t have the skills to build a high-quality site yourself, employ a professional website design company. The initial investment will prove worthwhile when you have a site that works for you rather than against you.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest; the potential platforms available for promotion can be somewhat overwhelming for businesses to deal with. If you want to maintain a presence on all these sites, you are looking at a considerable investment of your time, as they will all require regular, high-quality input to be effective. There is no point spreading yourself too thin and having outdated profiles on multiple platforms, as they will not be doing you any good and could, in fact, promote a less than desirable image of your business. Clients want to see well-organised, useful and intelligent posts that are kept up to date and regularly monitored. They will not be impressed if your Facebook page was last updated five weeks ago or there are only six photos on your Instagram page. If you aren’t able to keep on top of multiple social media channels, select those that have the most users, or those that are most relevant to your niche, i.e. if you sell antique jewellery, then a page on Pinterest featuring your most interesting items will be most appropriate for you.
There are so many advertising possibilities on the Internet that it pays to formulate a plan based on what your marketing budget is and how to get the best placements for your ads. It’s important to do your research and find the best fit for the product or service you are advertising. If your business operates in a specialised niche, you will only want your ads to be shown to people who are interested in that niche. Marketing experts and successful entrepreneurs will advise that it is essential to know who your customer is, and not just blanket advertise in hopes you will be found by someone interested in what you’re selling. This is good advice, and you will get a much higher return on your investment if you target your ads at the people most likely to become your customers. Advert placement services like Google’s AdSense aim to match your adverts to relevant websites on their books, so if you sell camouflage dog coats, your ads would be featured on dog related websites.
You can use social media to advertise, and they will also aim to match the topic of your advert to users who are likely to be interested in your products and services. In practice, this can be somewhat hit and miss, as user profiles are selected based on their activity. With an all-encompassing range of interests covered on a platform like Facebook, and users often following links on very random posts and ads, what someone has clicked on in the past may or may not mean they are potential customers.
Inevitably Google controls the most lucrative advertising medium through its AdWords service, where you pay to have your business’s ads featured higher up in Google’s search engine results. Using AdWords can be extremely effective if you have the know-how and the budget to run an effective campaign. It can also be frustrating, time-consuming and expensive, and to be successful; campaigns need expert input. There are tutorials available online, and AdWords has extensive guidance on achieving the best results, but as it is something used by the biggest companies in the world, you need to have considerable skill to compete with the resources they are able to commit to their campaigns.
Bespoke corporate gifts
With such a lot of attention given to online marketing, you can lose sight of other great promotional tools. Although the Internet has opened up an incredible shop window for businesses, there is definitely still a place for other forms of marketing. A good example is the array of personalised products printed with your brand and contact details, such as the examples featured here. Using gifts can be very effective, providing you are giving someone something they want. It’s important to look at all the types of products on offer and choose those that will make a value statement about your business. For example, if you sell guitars in your business then a good promotional line would be guitar picks printed with your logo. Your budget will influence which lines you choose to invest in, but consider the quality of the items you are purchasing and whether your clients will be happy and impressed with their gift.
Stay abreast of developments
This is crucial, and there is no time to rest on your laurels. All your promotional activities need monitoring, evaluating and constantly revising to achieve the best results, and you should always have an eye for the latest opportunities to ensure your business stands out from the crowd.