Making Sense of Small Business Advertising

A Focus on industry specific advertising in magazines or related websites, Search Engine Advertising via Google and Bing and Outdoor advertising such as billboards and posters.

What is Advertising?

Industry specific advertising, Search Engine Advertising & Outdoor Advertising.

Advertising in the 21st Century is a varied and complex form of communication whereby a business or other organisation delivers a message to their target market via a wide choice of media.  The purpose of the message is to inform and/or influence the target market about their products, services or causes.

The purpose of this article, and those that we will produce for you in the coming months, is to explain the different categories of advertising and the advertising media that fall within each category.  We will specifically be looking at the benefits and pitfalls of each of them with the professional but budget constrained small business in mind.

This article focuses on the following advertising channels

Industry specific advertising in magazines (print advertising) or industry related websites (digital/online advertising)

Search Engine Advertising through Google and Bing (digital/online advertising)

Outdoor Advertising

However, before we turn our focus to these particular channels, let us first take a look at the four broad categories of advertising into which these channels fall.

Print Advertising – Any printed advertisement, whether that be in a newspaper or magazine, a newsletter, a leaflet or flyer that you pick up when you’re out and about, or an item of direct mail that is delivered through your letterbox, will fall under the banner of print advertising.

Print advertising is the most long-standing advertising channel and is still one of the most popular with start-ups and small businesses because producing an effective print advertisement can be relatively cost effective and straightforward, providing your advert contains a few essential elements (we will cover these in some depth later in this article when we look at advertising in industry-specific magazines).

Broadcast Advertising – This covers all advertising carried out via television and radio. Until the rise of the Internet, this was the media to use if you wanted to reach a large number of consumers.  However, it was (and still is) expensive relative to print and online advertising and therefore television advertising, in particular, has always been dominated by large, national businesses rather than those that are small and local in nature.  Local radio, on the other hand, has become more popular with smaller businesses due to lower advertising costs and its ability to target a specific geographical area.

Online / Digital Advertising – This is the use of internet technology to deliver promotional advertisements to potential consumers whilst they are using digital media. Any advertisement that is delivered via the internet will fall under the banner of digital advertising.  Search Engine Advertising (covered in more depth below) is a highly effective way of gaining website visitors and customers through the purchase of advertisements on the results pages of search engines like Google and Bing. 

Outdoor Advertising – This refers to any type of advertising that reaches the consumer when they are outdoors. A few examples of outdoor advertising includes billboards, posters and signage on vehicles. 

Now let’s consider these specific advertising channels in more detail…

Industry specific advertising in magazines or related websites

Industry specific magazines

Despite our increasingly digital world, advertising in the industry-specific magazine is still an effective way to advertise your business.  These magazines directly target your specific audience rather the general audience that would be reached through a general -interest publication.  In other words, by placing an advert in a magazine that is dedicated to the industry your business serves, you will be reaching readers who are already interested in the product or service you offer.

There is also a credibility argument for these magazines.  Some of them have been around for decades and have built up significant and loyal readerships who tend to trust their contents.  This would be particularly true of older generations who may prefer to use a business who are advertising via a media that they trust rather than a website that is unknown to them. 

There are a few essential elements required for the production of an effective print advertisement. These are as follows:

Headline – This needs to be a strong statement that grabs the reader’s attention and outlines your business’s USP (Unique Selling Point) to highlight the key benefit of your product or service.  The font of your headline should be large and bold, and the language used should be easily understood.  When advertising in an industry specific publication, industry specific jargon would be acceptable but this should be avoided when advertising via any other media with a broader, more general audience.

Illustration – This is not essential and should not be included for the sake of it but something that is visual and relevant will work well to reinforce and expand upon the message in your headline. It isn’t necessary to hire a photographer or an illustrator for this, if you are prepared to spend some time searching through a plethora of “cheesy” photos, good quality images can be downloaded inexpensively from stock image libraries. 

Main Body content – As with the headline of your advertisement, the language used in the main body of the advert needs to be easily understood and the tone must be sincere. This is your opportunity to persuade the reader of their need/desire for your product or service so the advertisement content needs to be brief but powerful and to the point.   

Credibility / Proof – Try to include details of any awards, customer reviews or commendations that your product or service has received. It’s always worthwhile including award logos and accreditations to reinforce the credibility of your business.  

A Call to Action – Following the main copy of the advertisement, you must include a call to action. This often contains some sort of offer for the prospect and is designed to prompt them to take a specific action such as contacting you for further information or visiting your website.  This message will be more effective if it contains a sense of urgency such as “Call today to receive 10% off” or “Hurry, limited stock available”.

Company logo / slogan – Remember to include your company logo and slogan to build awareness for your company / brand.

Layout – There needs to be a focal point to the layout of your advertisement; a point where the reader’s eyes land on the page. This is usually either the headline or an illustration, after which they should then be lead through the copy by the white space, other graphics and text to the call to action.

Colour vs Black & White – Colour is more expensive than black and white and would be necessary for most industry specific magazines, however for some other print media, black and white would be appropriate.  

Size and Shape – The cost of print advertising within any given publication is determined by the size and shape of the advertisement, with certain locations such as the back cover commanding a higher price.

Industry related websites

Although traditional print advertising still forms a major part of any marketing program, online advertising is now the largest advertising medium in the UK and therefore should not be overlooked, particularly advertising on industry related websites.   These websites have the same benefits as industry specific magazines in terms of reaching your target audience and your readers’ perception of the credibility of your chosen advertising media.

One of the biggest areas of growth is in Search Engine Marketing, which has been responsible for much of the growth of online advertising revenues in recent years.

Search Engine Advertising

What is Search Engine Advertising?

Search Engine Advertising involves the promotion of websites by improving their visibility in the result pages of Search Engines such as Google and Bing.  Google AdWords is by far the most popular paid search advertising platform, however Bing is now stepping up their game to get a bigger slice of the action.

How does it work?

When searching for products or services on the internet, prospective buyers will enter certain words (known as keywords) into the search engines.  Advertisers can bid on these keywords so that their advertisement pops up alongside the search results for the prospective buyer’s online search.

Why use Search Engine Advertising?

Advertisements are seen by individuals when there is a very strong chance that they are already in buying mode – In an increasingly competitive marketplace and an increasingly digital world, Search Engine Advertising is one of the most cost effective ways to grow your business.  In contrast to more traditional marketing channels such as newspapers, industry specific magazines, television and radio, which involve passive participation by your audience, Search Engine Advertising targets an audience who are actively searching the internet for a solution you offer, using the keywords that relate to your product or service; the words that you have bid on to ensure that your advertisement appears on their search result page.

Very cost effective – Compared with other marketing medium, Search Engine Advertising has one of the lowest costs per customer acquisition

Positive impact on other marketing activities – Studies have also shown that online advertising not only delivers excellent return on investment efficiency itself but also enhances the effectiveness of spend on other non-digital media

How do I get started with Search Engine Marketing?

Both platforms (Google and Bing) offer their own getting started guides and helpful tutorials but here are a few tips and tactics that we think you might find useful.

1. Do your Keyword & Competitor Research – Take your time and carefully select the keywords your target market are likely to be using to search for the product or service you sell. Be as specific as possible to attract people who are searching with commercial intent and are ready to buy. For example, focus on specific keywords like “canon 4300 digital camera” rather than just “digital cameras”. The latter is very broad and the person is most likely in the early stages of the buying process. 

As well as doing keyword research, you need to look at what your competitors are doing. What keywords are they advertising on? What do their adverts say? What offers are they advertising to lure customers? You’ll need to know all this in order to come up with the right strategy that makes you stand out from the competition. 

2. Get some professional guidance – When it comes to starting a search engine advertising campaign there is a fair amount to learn, so we’d recommend reading up on what’s involved before rushing into your first campaign. Our marketing company provide a simple guide that will help you avoid the common pitfalls when creating a Search Engine Advertising campaign – get your free guide now and avoid the 5 most common Google AdWords mistakes.

Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising is perfect if you are a new or small business needing to make a big impact in your local area.  It is a great way to raise your company’s profile and deliver results.  Large poster advertisements put your company’s message where it cannot be missed.  Potential customers do not need to turn anything on, click onto anything or even turn a page in order to access it, your message just appears in front of them.  However interestingly, most people consider this type of advertising to be less intrusive than other methods.  In locations such as on public transport or in waiting rooms, this type of advertising can even be a welcome distraction as it often provides the reader with colour, humour and insight.  

Where to advertise

With outdoor advertising, there are locations to suit all budgets and your knowledge of your target market will also drive your choice.   As mentioned above, places where people have very little to do such as waiting rooms and public transport will provide your advertisement with a captive audience.  Shopping centres and retail parks on the other hand, will catch your prospective customers when they are already in shopping mode. 

If your marketing budget stretches to large billboards, then it is vitally important to consider the time that your audience will have to read your advertisement.   Billboards on the side of the road will need to convey a message in seconds, whereas those displayed in bus stations, on train platforms and at taxi ranks for example can contain more detail such as specific promotions, calls to action or even contact details as the reader will have longer to absorb its contents. 

Remember that your own business premises are likely to be a good outdoor advertising opportunity, together with your company car or van.  Vehicle signage is a one-off investment, it makes your business highly visible and gives the perception of professional pride and success.  Vehicle signage can also be easily removed should the message or contact details need to be changed or the signage no longer required.

How do I buy outdoor advertising space?

Generally speaking, outdoor advertising space is sold via specialist agencies, however there are times when the owner of the space might be dealt with directly.  When buying this type of advertising, be sure to enquire about audience measurement.  A good agency should be able to give you information about the number and type of people that will pass your advert.

We hope that you have found this article interesting and informative.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss advertising for your small business further, please contact Trinity on 0800 954 2099 for a Free Consultation or complete our online form.

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