Where to spend small business marketing, advertising money avatar
Where to spend small business marketing, advertising money

small-business-marketing-advertisingAre you a small or medium sized business that struggles to figure out where to put your advertising spend? Does it go into traditional advertising or online marketing, such as Google PPC, or SEO. Oh where oh where do I spend?

I’ve been involved in marketing and business strategy for over 15 years, and most of those 15 years it has been with my own skin in the game so I’ve learned a thing or two about marketing and advertising. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and had some great successes too. Never mind that I’ve worked with dozens of small and medium-sized businesses which has added to my convictions. Most importantly, I’ve measured results for almost everything I’ve done for my clients and myself.

Here are some of important takeaways:

  1. Never stop spending on marketing! The old adage, “Out of site, out of mind,” still holds true. Years ago, circa mid to early 90’s, I read Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson and if there was one thing that stood out from his book it was don’t stop. Especially if you’re a new business, you’ve got to spend effort and/or money marketing your business. Unless you’re a big brand, people are not going to beat a path to your door despite your delusions of grandeur.
  2. Guerrilla marketing is your best bet. Wikipedia defines guerilla marketing as, “…an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget.” If you’re like most small to medium-sized businesses, you probably don’t have an endless source of funds to market, advertise, and promote your business.Years ago my wife and I started a retail store.  I knew PR was an effective way to get exposure for the business and with a little luck could leead to the possibility of getting a larger story. From my personal networking, I had received a contact for a local pr person, pleaded my case that I had no budget, and she put together a basic press release for our business with a worthy “hook” for a story and released it to the local media. Several things came from that $150 investment:
    • Local media coverage: I received a story in a local business journal
    • National TV exposure: Not long after the story was published, a reality TV show producer in Los Angeles called us – she needed inspiring stories about people that had left corporate to launch their own entrepreneurial ventures.  So we ended up with a reality TV show segment featuring our business, past careers, and how we made the jump to entrepreneurship. The TV show ran nationally for more than a year on cable and I had countless people tell me they saw our story on TV, and of course the best part was that the exposure was all free! Priceless publicity. Was that worth $150 for the initial press release? You bet!
    • Intangible benefits: The online media coverage lead to many inbound links to our website, which just gave us better exposure and rankings with the 3 main search engines.
  3. Online Marketing is your single best tactic
    As the web matured, our brick and mortar business generated almost 50% of its sales from online…sales we never would have had without an effective online marketing presence.
    • You’re not an exception: I can’t think of too many small or medium businesses where online marketing is not your single most cost effective marketing and advertising tactic.
    • Everyone is looking for you online: Consider 80% of people search for a local business online within 10-20 miles of their location [site source]. How much are you spending on in online marketing? Is most of your existing advertising budget spent with traditional media?  Do you have a good local presence online? When was the last time anyone used a Yellow Pages?

    What percentage of your marketing and advertising spend is going to traditional media? Have you shifted funds recently to online marketing efforts?