At the start of 2020 there were an estimated 5.94 million small businesses trading in the UK, with many of these considered to be startup ventures that employ fewer than 50 people.

This number accounts for 99.3% of all businesses currently in operation, while employing an estimated 16.8 million (61% of the total private sector workforce) and producing a cumulative turnover of £2.3 trillion (52%).

If you are launching a new business within this space, however, the question that remains is how should you advertise your venture? Here’s a detailed guide to help you on your way:

Get Started by Promoting Your Business on Google

When looking to promote your business, your first port of call should be to market the brand through Google.

There are numerous reasons for this too; with Google controlling a little more than 92% of the total search engine market share worldwide. 

When you also consider that SEOTribunal.com estimated that there are approximately 3.8 million Google searches executed every minute, you’ll understand the importance of boosting your brand’s visibility online and through the world’s most dominant search engine.

But what are the best ways of promoting your venture through Google? Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

Create and Verify Your Google Business Profile

Google enables you to create your own Business Profile, which is equivalent to an official Google listing that enables your company’s details to show up in local search engine results and associated maps.

With this type of listing, when someone types in your business name and location, your details will also be displayed on the right-side ‘Knowledge Panel’ in the search engine results.

This is particularly valuable in the current climate, as Google’s increasingly efficient and tailored SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) ensure that interested customers can be connected to your business in real-time.

When creating your Google Business Profile, the key is to verify ownership of your listing through your free account. Once you’ve completed this step, you can optimise your listing to ensure that it appears as high as possible in Google’s SERPs in relation to targeted keywords.

Build an Optimised Website

On a similar note, ecommerce has also emerged as a relentless and rapidly growing market in the digital age, with the UK sector having grown by a rapid 27% through 2020.

Ecommerce generated $105 billion (£76.12 billion) for the UK economy during the same period, suggesting that customers are increasingly inclined to research, discover and purchase goods online.

As a result of this, it’s also crucial that you create a navigable and optimised website that can rank well on the back of Google’s algorithms. 

Make no mistake; this will serve as the digital storefront for your business, creating a visible and relevant beacon for potential customers and establishing a focal point for the online consumer journey.

This is one of the best and most effective ways of promoting your new business on Google, particularly when you consider the amount of information that it can relay. From your brand narrative and identity to core product ranges and unique selling points, a well-designed website is a promotional tool like no other.

We’d recommend liaising with specialist design firms when creating your website, even though free templates and solutions exist in the current marketplace.

This guarantees the highest quality and most efficient website design, while it may even enable you to partner with firms that provide associated PPC and SEO services.

Utilise Google Ads and Customer Reviews

With a prominent website and strong local SEO presence, you can successfully build brand awareness online and build an entire audience based on targeted and carefully selected keyword phrases.

While these methods enable you to gain exposure and build awareness over time, however, there are other techniques aimed at providing more immediate attention.

For example, you could utilise Google Ads to create a paid listing that appears at the top of SERPs ahead of organic results, once again in connection with targeted and high-volume keywords. 

This applies to both national and local listings too, creating better value for your marketing spend and boosting exposure across the board. 

Of course, you’ll need the requisite marketing budget in the first place to secure Google Ads and implement your strategy, but Google’s market share, flexibility and unique ad-building features make this a more than viable investment for brands.

With any online listing that’s discoverable via Google (paid or otherwise), it’s to optimise these as much as possible. 

For basic business listings, for example, you should look to incorporate images of your business alongside authentic and high-quality reviews. These should relay first-hand experiences of various customers, providing a unique insight into your business and products or services that you sell.

Promoting Your Content on Social Media

Social media should always play a key role in advertising and promoting your new business, especially when you’re looking to reach as large an audience as possible and build awareness on a relatively minimal spend.

However, there are several considerations when formulating a social media marketing strategy, and we’ve outlined some of these in further detail below:

Don’t Forget About Facebook

Not all social channels have been created equal, and you’ll need to tailor your marketing strategy based on the preferences and behaviours of your consumers (we’ll touch on this a little more in the next section).

However, there are some social media sites that are more universally popular than others, with Facebook offering a relevant case in point.

Facebook remains the largest single social network available online, with an estimated 2.89 billion monthly active users as of Q2 2021. The number of active Facebook users first surpassed one billion in Q3 2012, and it has remained the dominant social media site ever since.

How you utilise Facebook will depend largely on your industry and core objectives, but in general terms, you should start by creating a dedicated business page that features all relevant contact information and an accessible call-to-action (CTA).

This should serve as a central hub from which you actively look to engage customers over time, whether you’re focused on promoting events or hosting Facebook live sessions that impart valuable information and help to build trust amongst your followers.

Regardless of how you look to use Facebook, the key is that you place the site at the centre of your social media marketing strategy.

Define Your Target Market

While Facebook should be a staple of your social media strategy, we’d also recommend that you further define your target market and utilise other sites that enable you to engage your customers in real-time.

There are some general rules to consider here, with younger consumers typically favouring relatively new social platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. 

Conversely, older and more professional demographics tend to remain more heavily active on Facebook and LinkedIn, alongside more conversational sites such as Twitter.

In terms of more specific rules, you should note that platforms like Pinterest are dominated by female users. In fact, women account for 71.1% of Pinterest’s total user base, so product-oriented brands that sell primarily to women should make use of this platform.

Ultimately, the key is to understand your target market and create clearly defined consumer profiles as part of your social media campaign, before targeting relevant sites and tailoring your content accordingly.

There are no right or wrong answers here, but creating efficient campaigns that utilise channels correctly and afford you as much exposure to your target customers as possible.

Create Video Content on YouTube and TikTok (Where Applicable)

Video content represents an excellent way of engaging customers, with this observation borne out by various studies and research findings.

These have discovered that video content tends to get 1,200% more shares than text and imagery combined on average, with this largely due to the fact the human brain can process visuals much quicker than text. 

Not only this, but around 90% of the total information transmitted to your brain is visual, so this type of content is more likely to engage us (particularly in a crowded and saturated online space).

With this in mind, advertising on YouTube could prove highly generative for your new business, with organic content such as instructional videos pertaining to specific products likely to drive high levels of engagement in a relatively short period of time.

You can also promote your YouTube channel through a commercial blog, which links back to specific and relevant videos or embeds content directly in a particular post. 

This is incredibly effective from an SEO perspective, so it’s worth building out these types of links over time.

YouTube can also be used to host paid advertisements from your business, particularly if you can target content in relevant categories and create punchy advertisements that are capable of reaching your target market.

You can also develop text ads that appear in the search results, and this can represent a viable investment if you’re able to land spots on popular and widely shared videos.

If you want to target younger consumers (such as Gen Z members or younger Millennials), you may also want to create video content for TikTok.

TikTok is certainly a fast-growing platform amongst younger users, with the site continuing to add more than 20 million unique users per month through 2021. 

In terms of content type, you’d be best served by creating fun and creative promotional ads for TikTok, rather than focusing on staid or overly promotional content.

What About OOH and DOOH – How Should They Be Used as Part of Your Campaign?

This brings us neatly onto OOH (out-of-home) and DOOH (digital-out-of-home) media, which exists in the traditional media space and has become increasingly popular in recent times (apart from a slight and understandable dip during the coronavirus pandemic).

In fact, OOH advertising grew by 4.5% year-on-year as recently as 2016, while bumper growth is also forecast for 2021 as countries emerge from national lockdowns. 

Interestingly, these iterations of outdoor media are ideal for assisting and optimising conversions online, thanks largely to their trustworthy nature, high levels of engagement and ability to meld seamlessly with their natural environment.

Outlets such as billboards can also be placed strategically to help build awareness amongst vast and broad demographics, creating a viable ad channel that plays an influential role in the modern-day customer journey.

Thanks to this and the ability of OOH ad channels to integrate with all of the promotional methods referenced above, billboards and posters can contribute to genuinely integrated campaigns that afford you the best chance of success as a new business.

By utilising paper-based OOH channels, you can also reduce your overall marketing spend and the total cost of running a billboard campaign, especially over the course of a long-term booking.

This affords you more capital to invest in other paid advertising channels as part of your integrated campaign, which may make all the difference in a truly competitive marketplace.

Execution is everything when creating an OOH campaign, however, so here are some tips to help you on your way:

Make Creativity a key Watchword

Saving money through the procurement of traditional billboards (which also optimises your exposure in a particular location as you won’t be required to share space with additional ads), also frees up capital to invest in the design of your content. 

Make no mistake; creative themes and designs immediately enhance the visual impact of your ads, capturing a higher number of impressions and potentially improving conversion rates through various online channels. 

Billboards also enable you to introduce textures and lighting into your content, in order to create more immersive ads that actively boost engagement by encouraging real-time interaction.

Just remember, your creative designs should still be underpinned by the visual “rule of three”, which helps to segregate the space on your advertising real estate and makes room for crucial design elements such as a headline and visible CTA.

We’d also recommend striving to strike the delicate balance between simplicity and creativity, so that your sponsored messaging and content isn’t lost amid a blur of colours and excitement.

Learn How to Write a Headline

We’ve already touched on your ad’s headline or slogan, which must be concise, punchy and printed in a font that’s legible and easy to read at a distance.

Typically, you’ll only have room for a single headline or primary messaging, even when utilizing 48 and 96-sheet billboards. 

What’s more, just six seconds is touted as the industry average for reading a billboard in real-time, so it’s important to be incredibly concise and have a clear understanding of the message that you’re attempting to convey – making it key that you write your headline effectively.

#nomoreoasis advertising campaign

With this average in mind, we’d recommend capping your billboard’s headline or messaging at seven words, while writing in an active tense to help optimise the impact of the characters that you do use.

When it comes to the font, you’ll need to prioritise options such as Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Tahoma and Helvetica. 

The reason for this is simple; as these fonts are crisp, modern and highly legible, while they’re relatively easy to read at a distance and allow you to convey your message quickly and clearly even within a limited time-frame.

Understand the Link Between OOH and Instagram

We spoke briefly about Instagram earlier, with this platform considered to be one of the fastest-growing entities of its type and home to more than 1.386 billion unique and active users

Interestingly, recent research carried out by Neilsen found that OOH drove higher levels of engagement and activations through Instagram, especially when compared with other offline channels like radio, television and print media.

Overall, the study showed that OOH delivers four times more online activity per dollar spent than TV, radio and print, with this trend particularly evident across both Instagram and Twitter. 

This creates a clear opportunity when designing your OOH ads, as you can structure your content and campaigns to incorporate your business’s Twitter and Instagram handles as a way of driving further interaction online. 

This trend is further optimised by the fact that people who see OOH campaigns are 17% more likely to engage with a brand through their smartphone, with most individuals also having direct access to their social media accounts on their mobiles.

The Last Word

So there you have it; a detailed advertising guide for new businesses and ventures that are looking to make their way in a competitive marketplace.

As with everything else, preparation is key in this respect, as having a clear understanding of your target market and exactly how to utilise different marketing channels increases your chances of success incrementally.

Execution is also key when designing your OOH ads or digital billboards, particularly in terms of your messaging, the use of imagery and how you leverage content to engage and interact with customers.

By following these tips, you can hopefully market your new business successfully, while also making the absolute most of your ad budget!