Written by Craig Warren
If you run a small business, advertising costs must be
figured in as part of your overall expenses. If you have
received quotes for phone directory ads, business
association block ads and mostly any other print media,
these costs are quite high. So, what if your budget is
small, perhaps negligible? Will you be left outside of
the advertising arena or are there other avenues to help
you get the word out? The answer in one word is, yes.
Lets explore ways you can get the word out through
online means yes, via the internet!
The rise of the internet has spawned an entire industry
with it. You may remember in the late 1990s stories of
dot.com companies who made a fortune and then went bust.
The irrational exuberance of that era has, thankfully,
passed by and in its place is a much more rational, but
very lively market.
Today’s biggest players online are search engine providers
led by Google, Yahoo and MSN. Between them, these three
search engines dominate the market. Mostly everyone today
searches the internet for products sold by small businesses
to large corporations and these are the people you want to
target. Indeed, while Christmas season sales typically
increase around 4% year over year for brick and mortar
retailers, the internet has been seeing year over year
increases of 30% and higher! No small business operator
should exclude the internet when crafting a marketing plan.
Speaking of the search engines, both Google and Yahoo
have their own advertising networks. Google has its
AdWords program while the Yahoo Publisher Network is a
comparable, though newer program. This is where you, as
a small business owner, can do some of your advertising.
By selecting the advertising plan that works for you, you
can have your ads appear on web sites in your local area
or across the world and be charged a small amount per
click. In other words, you don’t pay for advertising
unless someone clicks on your ad and goes through to
your site. To keep clicks from getting out of control
you determine the price per click and the amount per day,
week, or month you are willing to pay. No busting of your
small business budget!
Banner or text ads on select sites can also be helpful
for your small business. If there is a web site you like
and you suspect that a lot of your customers would
frequent that site, contact the webmaster to learn what
his advertising charges would be. Perhaps in exchange for
submitting a few helpful articles, the webmaster would
waive your advertising fee altogether. Or, at the very
least, accept any other help you could provide
moderating a forum, answering questions, etc.
Another way of getting the word out is through your own
website. No, you don’t need a web professional to
establish your site, but it does help to have someone who
can guide you through the set up process. At the very
least a few pages is what you will need, so set up costs
shouldn’t be terribly expensive. In addition, figure on
paying monthly hosting and domain name fees but these
expenses should be no more than $100-$125 per year. Pay a
little extra for a web professional who can help you
optimize your site (make it search engine friendly) and
you’ll get your money back much quicker. Finally, check
with your accountant for small business tax deductions.
You can also generate plenty of attention by writing
articles, just like the one you are reading now. No, you
don’t need to be a professional writer, but if you can
clearly convey your thoughts and present a plan of action
for your readers such as, buy my product you can get
what amounts to be free advertising. How so? By submitting
what you write to article submission sites for wider
dissemination. By including helpful links in the author
resource box you can cause search engines to make your
website much more visible as your article gets reprinted
on other web sites. Furthermore, readers will perceive
that you are an expert and will likely inquire to find out
just what you are all about. You can call this, small
business advertising on the cheap!
No, as a small business owner you don’t have to be strapped
by high advertising costs — who has the cash to spare?
Instead, the internet offers to you several cost-effective
ways of informing people about who you are, what you do
and where they can find you.
Select the marketing plan that works best for your small
business. A mixture of all four points is a great plan of
attack for many small business owners just like you!
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