Posted at Nov 6, 2018 10:05:00 AM by thatagency | Share
Are your advertising costs too high? You're not alone! This critical function often represents a significant challenge for small and medium businesses, who face a catch-22. After all, you need the advertising to keep the flow of customers steady and growing, but with budgets already tight, the last thing you need in your life is another expense.
Is there a way to reduce those ad costs and create the presence you really want? Absolutely. These ten tips can help.
1. Create a Comprehensive Program
The best first step you can take is to create a program you can stick to. Remember, you're going to have lots of opportunities to advertise. You simply can't take every one of them and stay within budget. Instead, your best bet is to decide what your business goals are, and build a program around those.
This may take some time. Think about annual events, your busy times, and any special occasions you want to factor in, and then build your advertising budget.
2. Leverage Opportunities
There are many opportunities out there that may cost less than you think. Local fairs, trade shows, and even podcasts may give you the chance to connect with customers for very little money, but it could mean connecting with hundreds of customers you didn't even know were out there.
Imagine, for a moment, you sell educational technology to school districts. You may have the opportunity to be a presenter at an upcoming conference. Often the costs involved are low, but once the purchasers in the school district attend your presentation, you have an entirely new customer base!
3. Don't Forget to Talk To Your Customers
Many companies don't ever interact with their customers to learn more about their needs. Do it now. Talk to them in person or online. Offer surveys and other options to get a bit of input from them. These and other steps provide some free advertising along with producing insights you may not have considered.
4. Think Frequency over Reach
Any business school professor will tell you that there are two ways to think about advertising ROI. The first is reach, the number of individuals who actually see your advertisement. Frequency is the other. It's the number of times those people see the ad itself.
Hitting both of those can be a struggle, but if you can't hit them both, make sure your potential customers see your ad again and again. Repetition is key!
5. Stop Designer Hopping
Many companies go through a continual cycle of moving from designer to designer as they work to build their ads. Stop. Choose one design professional or team, and send them all of your ad business. It will save you money because every designer won't have to duplicate your logo or other information just to get started. You’ll also build a relationship that becomes almost intuitive as they learn your business.
6. Weigh Ad Costs Carefully
Digital ads placed with big-name websites cost more. Do you really need to be on CNN.com, for example? Would an ad on a niche industry website meet your needs just as well? Think hard about the cost of each ad you buy, and then decide whether it's going to attract your customers just as well at a lower cost.
7. Consider Cooperative Advertising
If you're not familiar with the concept, cooperative advertising is one way to save some serious money when it comes to your budget. These are programs where manufacturers offer you reimbursement dollars for ads based around their products.
For example, imagine you run an online ink pen store. You carry several different brands. One of the brands you carry may have a co-op ad program that reimburses you for fifty percent of the cost if you feature their brand in your next advertisement. It's a win-win. You get a bit of extra cash, and the manufacturer enjoys higher sales numbers.
8. Use Public Relations to Your Advantage
Ads cost money, but PR doesn't have to. If you can reach out to local papers and TV stations to promote an upcoming event or show customers a bit of news about your business, like an expansion, it's possible to get some free advertising customers may consider more reliable than your usual channels.
9. Use Social Media and Your Website
You don't want to overthrow traditional advertising for social media, but these platforms do offer a good way to get some brand recognition going, and it may mean one more touch point for your customers. Social media isn't the only avenue here. Your website and blog can help too, especially if they are optimized to pull search engine traffic your way.
10. Reward Word-of-Mouth Advertising
There are many customers and employees alike who might bring more business to your door, but to make it happen, you may need to involve a reward. Consider a referral fee or bonus that helps you gain new customers.