This is the second in a three-part series on how to promote your business.
You may have heard that traditional media is dead, don’t advertise there any more. That’s wrong. You may have heard that social media is a marketing gold mine and that’s where you should market your business. That’s also wrong. However, there’s also some truth to both of those statements. Things are confusing.
Marketing is in a period of great transition from traditional media to new media. Old media is not dead, and new media doesn’t always work. The correct strategy is to straddle the fence. You can be successful marketing in both traditional and new media, because the grass is green on both sides. For small businesses, I believe you should use a mixture of both. Because there are so many options, the trick is deciding on the best and most efficient combination for your business.
Which marketing channel you use depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Below, I’m going to give you some general guidelines that will point you in the right direction. But before we get to the sexy choices in traditional advertising and new media, let’s cover the basics.
Google Business Center Listing – The very first thing you should do to promote your business is claim your local listing in the Google Business Center. Doing so greatly increases your chances of being listed in the local “7-pack,” Google’s grouped listing of local business results for geographic searches. You can add photos, videos, and a detailed description of your business. Claim your listing here: Google Local Business Center
Signage – Make sure your sign is visible from the street or parking lot. Invest money in a professional sign. Don’t hang a banner across the top of the building, it looks cheap and temporary. If possible, include your tagline on the sign.
Local Television – Great for making an impact. Use local television if you have something important to say, or you want to get noticed. Best use tip: Run in the local programming for cost efficiency. Try to dominate a daypart or program to achieve a high frequency.
Radio – Use when you need to target demographically or reach an active, mobile demographic. Radio is also good for branding, because you can achieve a high frequency by running a heavy schedule. Don’t try to reach younger demographics through radio. Best use tip: Start small and tighten up your schedule. Dominate one daypart on one station first. Run high frequency, not just an occasional spot.
Newspaper – Use to achieve credibility and authority, or to run price ads. Best use tip: Make your ad wider and horizontally oriented rather than a long, narrow ad.
Local Cable – Use to reach niche audiences. In smaller markets cable is also good for branding if you can get low rates and buy lots of commercials. Best use tip: Stick with one message and repeat it frequently. However, produce several different spots to keep the message fresh.
Billboards – (known as outdoor in the industry) Use to achieve awareness and name recognition. Also use to give directions from a major thoroughfare. Best use tip: Seven words or less, period.
Direct Mail – A great option for local, small businesses. Use direct mail when you want to target a specific demographic, lifestyle, or geographic area. Best use tip: Use over-sized postcards. They are cheap to print and easy to notice in the mail pile.
New Media / Social Media / Internet
Your Website – You need a website. Customers expect you to have one. They want to learn more about your business from the comfort of their computer without having to directly contact you. Getting a website is now very easy and cheap. Check back to this blog next week, because I will have a step-by-step tutorial to getting a website.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine Marketing – Should be avoided by most local, small businesses. Use only if you want to drive traffic to your website and get noticed. Don’t use PPC to try to sell stuff. You can also use it if your business does a lot of couponing. Best use tip: Link to a specific landing page on your website created for the ad. Don’t send visitors to your home page.
Display or Banner Ads on Local Websites – Don’t do them…ever.
Online Video – Use to get noticed and create awareness. Get a Flip Video Camera, Setup a YouTube Channel, and start creating videos. It’s a great venue for tutorials. Best Use Tip: Make short videos that answer common customer questions. Also, put your TV commercials on your YouTube channel.
Facebook / MySpace / Twitter – Use to give existing and potential customers direct access to you. These popular, open social networks personalize your business. Best use tip – post daily, and post behind-the-scenes information. Be personal.
Blogs – Use to explain stuff. Use blogs to establish credibility and authority. Help people make decisions by making the complex understandable. Best use tip: Take the most common customer questions and turn them into blog posts.
Online Social Communities – You can actually create a social community just for your business using a service like Ning. Create your own community if you have passionate customers who like to talk to each other about your business or your unique product. Best use tip: Require membership for customers to access content on the community. Give it an exclusive, community feel.
Straddle the Fence
You don’t have to be exclusively one or the other, traditional media or new media. Play in both yards. Find the media that are best for your purpose and mix and match: billboards + online video, direct mail + blogs, Facebook + local cable. What’s your combination?