So, you’ve set-up shop, opened your doors, and even welcomed your first customer. Now what? How do you make sure that you have a steady flow of customers coming in and knowing about your products? One of the most important things you can do when starting your business is getting your name out there, and advertising can help you do just that.
Investing a fortune on advertising in every direction can be a waste of time and money if it’s not focused on your target market. Here are some ways to advertise your business on a budget that makes sense for you.
- Get Tech Savvy or Hire Somebody Who Is. The first thing people do when looking for a business or product, is look it up online. And, if you’re not online, you’re missing out on reaching those customers. 50 percent of consumers say they are influenced by online content – so what are you waiting for?
- Keep Your Website Up-to-Date. This is the best way to showcase what you do and why you do it. Not only will you have the chance to tell your customers about your business, but you can demonstrate your products and tell people about what makes you unique. There are free, user-friendly templates available online, however you may need to watch a few online tutorials, or consider commissioning the help of a website designer. With close to 97 percent of consumers searching for businesses online, getting a website is crucial to the success of your business in the digital world. If you already have a website set up, it’s important to keep it up-to-date. Nothing is more of a turn off for a potential customer than an outdated and cluttered website.
- Take Advantage of Business Listings and SEO. Sign-up for online directories like YP.ca, Weblocal.ca and Canadian Company Capabilities. You can start off with just the basics, such as an online business listing. Or, you can also promote your website and use search engine optimization to make sure you rank higher in the search results.
- Capitalize on the Power of Social Media. Free and widely accessible are two qualities that make social networking an essential tool when it comes to advertising and promotion. The biggest step in advertising your business is learning how to capitalize on the power of digital word-of-mouth. All it takes is a click to share news on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. As a small business owner you are probably limited in time and resources, so consider choosing one network that reaches your target audience and focus your efforts there. Or, you can commission the help of a marketing solutions provider that offers social media support.
- Advertise in Local Newspapers. Placing ads in several newspapers offers a wide visibility that even includes the papers’ online readers. Check if the newspaper has a column dedicated to new businesses and suggest a profile of your company. If you have the budget, publish an advertorial that highlights your company’s history, successes and specialties.
- Network at Trade Shows. Increase your visibility by participating in trade shows, conferences and seminars relates to your line of work. Choose only those that offer maximum visibility and attract your target customers. You can also register your business with the Canadian Business Network, a federal government sponsored database that features more than 50,000 companies. Most importantly, join your local Chamber of Commerce or business association, as they offer a multitude of tools for their members.
- Get People Talking. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to do it the old fashioned way. Word-of-mouth is still a great way to get your business known outside of the digital realm. Talk to the people you meet about what you do and ask your customers to kindly write an objective review on your website or online listing.
The possibilities for online promotion are endless. That’s why it is so crucial to choose a program that will reach your target audience and most importantly one that suits your budget. Start off with a small advertising budget, get a feel for what works and increase spend as you learn more about your target audience’s behaviour online.
In the end, there is no perfect formula for advertising your business, but with these simple steps and the knowledge of your target audience, you’re on your way to success.