Small Business Advertising and Marketing Basics

As a small-business owner, you put a lot of time and effort into creating a business with market appeal, the right location, proper equipment, and possibly inventory. Growing your business, however, relies significantly on effective marketing and advertising.

  • Small Business Advertising and Marketing Basics

The list below outlines advertising and marketing best practices you can use to grow your small business.

  1. Understand your customer: Getting the right message to the right people is the most important element in marketing success. It’s critical to learn everything you can about your customers’ needs, their lifestyles and buying habits. You may have gathered much of this information for your initial business plan, but it’s important to continually survey your customers so you can adjust your advertising efforts as opportunities arise or your market changes.
  2. Monitor the competition and follow best practices: Watch what successful local and national competitors are doing. By learning and following best practices, you can continue to enhance your marketing efforts, interact with customers in a more creative way, and make sure you’re not falling behind the competition.
  3. Create a flexible one-year marketing plan: Like any element in your operation, marketing and advertising requires a budget and a plan. Businesses typically spend 5% to 10% of sales or projected sales on advertising and marketing. To determine the right amount for your business, you can create a plan for the programs you would like to conduct during the year, and then build the budget around that plan. It’s important for the plan to be flexible so it can be adjusted to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves during the year. Depending on the type of business you have, you’ll want to consider the best advertising mix to create exposure for your company. This may include advertising placements in online channels such as email, pay-per-click, social media outlets, and local search providers, as well as offline channels, such as Yellow Page ads, newspapers, direct mail, signage, and cooperative coupon programs.
  4. Create an online presence: Every business needs a website as well as listings on popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Having a website and social media presence lets you create direct dialogue with your customers and propel word-of-mouth advertising. This also helps you stay on top of customer opinions and attitudes in order to deliver a positive customer experience.
  5. Focus your advertising messages on your buyers’ needs: Prospective buyers don’t care who you are, only what you can do for them. That’s why your advertising should follow these rules:
    • Tell prospects how your products or services can help to meet their needs, save them time, money, and effort, and ease worries.
    • Give prospective customers a reason to do business with you now by taking advantage of special offers before a specified deadline.
    • Make sure every ad is easy to read and clearly tells readers what they’ll get and what they have to do to get it.
  6. Always reach out to customers first: Customers are, and always will be, the most cost-effective source of new sales. They know you and already trust doing business with you. Send customers an offer that invites them to come back and buy more, buy compatible products or services, or buy higher priced products or services. You should also consider implementing a loyalty program that encourages repeat business.
  7. Request referrals: Referrals are the greatest form of advertising. You can increase your referrals by simply asking for them and making it easy for customers to share your information with their friends and colleagues.
  8. Request co-op dollars from your vendors: Vendors and suppliers often share the cost of marketing programs, as long as their brand is featured in the messaging. Contact your vendors to find out if you can co-op with them to make your marketing budget go further.
  9. Approach compatible businesses for opportunities: Join with other businesses to expand your advertising. For example, you can offer to put another business’ advertising flier in your customers’ shopping bags at checkout, on your countertop, in your shipping boxes or your billing statements. The other business can then do the same for you.

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Online Printing

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  • Signs, Banners & Posters

Signs, Banners & Posters

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  • Customer Stories

Customer Stories

Want to hear from other small businesses about their marketing basics?

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