How To Advertise and Promote Your Business

by Khare, Shweta Monday, March 15, 2010
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If you are looking for different options to advertise and to promote your business and want to narrow down on the best options for your particular needs, then this article will help you in finding out the different ways to advertise online and how feasible it is to your budget and business needs. Although the article focuses primarily on the internet listings, the traditional personal approach of postcards and mailers should not be written off completely, although we are seeing it as a dying trend – the web has indeed strengthened over the years and will be a highlight for all major advertising for small and mid size businesses this decade.

Local Listings

Getting listed n your local search pages is essential to your advertising strategies; most of the searches that happen on the internet are in search for business listings in close proximity to the customer (searcher). Here are a few ways you can use local listings to advertise your business:

Yellow Pages

According to Wikipedia: A particular Yellow Pages (YP) is a print directory which provides an alphabetical listing of businesses within a specific geographical area (e.g., Greater Chicago), which are segregated under headings for similar types of businesses (e.g., Plumbers).

Traditionally these directories have been published by the local phone company, but due to the highly profitable nature of the business there are numerous independent directory publishers. Yellow Pages directories are usually published annually, and distributed for free to all residences and businesses within a given coverage area.

Are yellow pages economical for small business advertising? Although yellow pages advertising is appropriate for all businesses but it may prove expensive depending on the option you chose for the listing and the city where you advertise it. It all depends, you may pay less for a one line ad but the options are numerous, you can use bold, highlighted ad or half page or full page ad and thus increases the cost. It is a good idea to be on the yellow pages but one must poll the customers as to what percentage of your clientele comes through yellow pages. If is not as effective as you would want to be and not the right ROI then perhaps other options might be better for your business advertising.

Yellowpages.com has made the data input and instant access to the internet listings pretty easy and fast and some listings are free as well. So no harm in trying them once and finding out whether they are really worth investing more or time to move on to the ones listed below.

CitySlick.net

Another very interesting online resource for advertising. They feature free listing for one category; you can even add your URL address and add a coupon as well. Impressive, why not try them out?

Local.com

They offer a lucrative free package as well as other incentives for the paid options, check out the comparison here: corporate.local.com/advertisewithus/local_businesses_compare

CitySearch.com

Some businesses are doing great with the citysearch listings and personally I feel the restaurants are doing great using citysearch listings, for the others of course, try it by all means, but yet again the price per month is on the higher side as compared to other local listing websites. You must analyze how effective it is to pay the monthly charges they demand and the amount of clicks you get through the ad.

Google Local Business Center

Yes, for sure something of this kind was expected from Google and they did not fall short on expectations. Google’s Local Business Center offers as many coupons as you want to create for your listing, provides a link to your Google analytics account and you can see the clicks and call to action from the advertising straight away. Good service for sure, customization and upgrade options available, worth a try, and since it is free it should be a must on your checklist of advertising.

Online Marketing

Online marketing is a big maze in itself and can be extremely time-consuming and may not prove to be as fruitful as you expect them to be if you do not know which method works out the best for your particular business.

Businesses which benefit tremendously from online marketing are:

• Website design or website template designing
• Online branding and web marketing services
• Real estate agents (offers at new houses on sale etc.)
• And pretty much any online business that you have be it in the beauty sector or garden supplies, the list goes on

Businesses which might not get as many customers from online marketing as compared to traditional forms of advertising (through personal mailers or yellow pages books) are:

• House Cleaning services
• Handyman plumber services
• Automobile services
• Haircutting Salons

Now what are the ways to use online marketing, here are some of the popular ones:

Email Marketing

Reaching out to your customers/clients through direct mail is one of the most effective ways of online marketing. You can either “buy” an email list or build on your own to ensure credibility and powerful personal reach to your current and prospective clients. This particular method is very effective for those businesses which sell products or services through the internet, those who sell services like paid webinars and e-books or online courses and also selling affiliate products. You may want to read a precious article titled The Good and Bad of Email Marketing to get a better understanding on Email marketing.

Google AdWords

Thinking of advertising or marketing your business on search engines? Then this method could be one of the best ones to use. The first part of this century is pretty much influenced by Google and its omnipresent technology. According to the Google AdWords website:

With Google AdWords, you can create and run ads for your business, quickly and simply. Run your ads on Google and our advertising network — no matter what your budget, you’ll only pay when people click your ads.

AdWords ads are displayed along with search results when someone searches Google using one of your keywords. Ads appear under ‘Sponsored links’ in the side column of a search page, and may also appear in additional positions above the free search results. That way, you’ll be advertising to an audience that’s already interested in your business.

• Also there is more to search engine marketing than just AdWords, do look up this document from SCORE/OPEN for some in-depth analysis: Marketing Your Business on Search Engines

Social Media

Of course, you will say! The amazing “discovery” of social media in our lives has been as recent as around two years, we are in the beginning stages of this social-media-cloud-burst but already the waves are reaching far and wide. You can leverage the social media in different ways to promote your products, increase credibility or just stay visible in the fierce competition that you see around.

• Here is a good article to get started with if you want to leverage social media marketing using Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz etc. to advertise your business: 5 Steps to Leverage Social Media for Businesses
• SCORE along with Sony have a simple concise article titled Demystifying Social Media: Using Its Power to Connect with Customers which might introduce you to the various ways social media is helping out in advertising. Most certainly the maze is still there, you have to figure out what best works for you and how much time you want to invest in such advertising – since most of them are pretty time consuming if you can delegate such tasks to your partners or friends/family it could be an added asset to your overall marketing plan.