Advertising on the internet continues to outpace traditional sources of advertising for many business industries. Even mature industries like vehicle dealerships have shifted their advertising budgets from 80% newspaper to 80% internet over the past several years. Most still use radio and TV media, but extending that reach into radio and TV sponsored websites continues to increase.
The benefit of internet advertising for small business is that the cost of participation is significantly lower than traditional forms of advertising. Many internet sites also make it easy for the small business owner to access, learn and develop comprehensive ad campaigns. The following sites are recommended for potential inclusion into the marketing mix of most small, and even large, businesses.
This site is a great source of free advertising that most small businesses should consider using. Small businesses such as home day care providers, music lessons and other personal services are prime candidates for Craigslist. Ad posts can be categorized by specific service or product and can be relisted each month free of charge. A clear and concise description of the service, price, location, and service times should be listed along with a link to an up-to-date website.
Craigslist Success Story: Melody Day of DaySong Studio in Charlottesville, VA began her piano and vocal lessons business after leaving the music department of the local public school system as a result of arts funding cuts. She needed a way to get her business off the ground with a small advertising budget quickly. Along with vehicle placards designed by Peregrine Associates (see image) we recommended that Melody use Craigslist in Charlottesville to advertise her business locally. Her first un-referred client came from Craigslist and she continues to receive new leads and students monthly from this medium.
Google Adwords: www.google.com/adwords
Google is the most popular website for advertising on the internet. Fees are based on a pay-per-click or pay-per-impression daily budgeted amount. Ads need to follow strict guidelines for approval and are limited to text with no pictures. The ads appear in Google Search engine results and appear at the top of search results or down the right side of the search.
Google typically provides $75 to $100 of free advertising coupons to businesses that sign up for a new Adwords account and the steps to develop an initial ad campaign are fairly straightforward. Ad campaigns can become significantly complex with the vast array of analytics and tools available in Google and experienced campaign managers can become certified in Google Adwords.
Bing.com/Yahoo.com Advertising: http://advertising.microsoft.com/small-business/home
Yahoo Search and Bing.com are managed by the Microsoft Advertising adCenter. This dual-search engine advertising service is similar in design and fee structure to Google Adwords and has the added benefit of being able to import entire Google Adwords campaigns.
Facebook Ads: https://www.facebook.com/advertising/
Facebook ads are an excellent way to expand a businesses social media presence by growing business page “likes.” Ads are pay-per-click or pay-per-impression daily budgeted amount and utilize only keywords that appear somewhere in Facebook allowing for a higher degree of relevant targeting. Ads must follow certain guidelines and are listed along with thumbnail images that appear along the right had side of Facebook user pages.
There are many online resources, including TheInkBlog.net and Facebook guidance, for developing best practice Facebook ads. However, the best advice is to jump right in and begin experimenting with ‘ad creatives’ and ‘ad copy.’
Facebook Ads Success Story: Mooers Volvo in Richmond and Midlothian, VA had less than 60 Facebook fans before striking out on a comprehensive social media strategy. With the use of a few targeted Facebook ads and regular relevant posts and interaction by Mooers staffers, the number of Facebook friends, between the two dealership Facebook pages, has increased to over 3000 in a few months with a budget of less than $8 per day. Ads invite visitors to post vehicle pics on the Mooers Facebook wall or requests that they visit and browse offers on the page.