While the coronavirus pandemic may have had a devastating impact on the economy and a whole range of industries, some entities have recorded a pronounced recovery through 2021.
This recovery is reflected by the total ad spend figures in the UK, with this number increasing by 86.5% to reach £7.6 billion in Q2 earlier this year. This was led by sectors like out-of-home (OOH), which saw its revenues increase by 276.8% during this period to become the single most effective advertising channel.
This information may also offer some much-needed insight into the best ways to advertise your small business in the current climate. Here are some further tips to help you on your way!
Make ‘Google My Business’ A Key Focus on Your Strategy
Google is often considered to be an advertiser’s best friend in the digital age, while it offers a number of channels through which you can promote your venture online.
Take ‘Google My Business’ for example, which allows you to create a unique profile for your venture online. This equates to an official and verified Google listing, and one that means your commercial details will be displayed in local search engine results and associated maps.
The latter point is key, as approximately 46% of all online searches include location data, while up to 97% of the people who use online search do so to locate local businesses.
So, with a Google My Business listing, you’ll be able to connect with a targeted and localised consumer base in real-time, while ensuring that your company’s data appears on the right-hand side knowledge panel in the SERPs.
To fully realise the impact of this measure, you’ll have to ensure that all relevant company data is listed accurately, including your physical (and website) address alongside contact details such as a telephone number and email address.
It’s also important to confirm and verify ownership of your listing through your free Google account, so that you’re then able to tailor this and optimise your SERPs ranking in relation to specific keywords.
Embrace OOH and DOOH
As we referenced earlier in the piece, OOH media was the best-performing advertising channel in Q2 2021, with revenues increasing by a staggering 276.8% during the reporting period.
What’s more, digital out-of-home (DOOH) media will see its revenues increase by 247% within this category, while increasing its total share of the out-of-home market to an impressive 63%.
Over the course of this year, OOH is also forecast to grow by 29.3% overall, with this considerably higher than the 18.2% year-on-year increase recorded across all ad channels.
So, if you really want to advertise your small business effectively, there’s no doubt that OOH (and DOOH) should play a pivotal role within your integrated marketing campaigns.
There’s certainly an affinity between OOH ad channels and small business growth, as marketers can successfully utilise high footfall locations to target customers within a predetermined catchment area.
Similarly, channels such as traditional billboards offer optimal exposure for brands within strategically located regions, while melding into their surrounding environment to drive marketing that’s non-intrusive and highly engaging.
Interestingly, there’s a strange misconception that OOH and DOOH advertising is too expensive for small and local businesses.
While the cost of standard two-week bookings for digital screens can be a little expensive in prime locations, traditional billboards are actually relatively affordable when compared to other offline channels like TV and print media.
Billboards are also known to trigger more online activations in relation to their total spend, making them one of the most cost-effective channels overall.
You should also note that the cost of billboards can be reduced over the course of longer bookings, which is ideal when looking to build brand awareness as a new venture.
Consider Guerrilla Marketing
In broad and simple terms, ‘guerrilla’ marketing refers to the use of unconventional and occasionally shocking methods of building brand awareness, with a view to capturing the attention of customers and driving real-time engagement.
If we drill down a little deeper, however, the term ‘guerrilla marketing’ derives its name from guerrilla warfare, based largely on the reliance of techniques and tactics that depend on the element of surprise.
In practical terms, guerrilla marketing techniques often comprise shocking and surprising elements, which contribute to bespoke and unconventional campaigns that enable brands to set themselves apart from their rivals.
Not only can guerrilla marketing enable small and local firms to build awareness and drive increased engagement among a target audience, but such campaigns can also be constructed affordably and in a way that optimises your eventual ROI.
A recent campaign by Bounty highlighted the unique effectiveness of guerrilla marketing. More specifically, it featured a series of “messes” littered throughout the streets of New York, including an oversized, knocked-over coffee cup and a gigantic, melting popsicle.
Image Credit: McDonalds
These corporeal and three-dimensional elements contributed to a unique and completely interactive campaign, and one that became increasingly impossible for customers to ignore.
Similarly, these elements worked in a similar way to billboards, by allowing brands to target audiences in busy locations with optimal levels of footfall.
This campaign also highlighted how effective guerrilla marketing is when looking to convey the core features and benefits of a product and the main problem that it was designed to solve, without the need to leverage creative messaging or develop a catchy ad slogan.
It’s also well-known that guerrilla marketing is highly effective in the non-profit sector, with striking and visually impactful messages capable of detailing the most serious and well-intended causes.
This is best embodied by UNICEF’s ‘dirty water’ campaign, which showcased branded mineral water bottles that were filled with dirty, polluted water.
This was done to highlight the challenges facing communities in third-world countries, where people often don’t have regular access to clean water. It also handled this topic in a visually striking but thought-provoking way, and one that created a significant talking point as a result.
Webinar marketing may not be as popular or widely-used as other iterations of the art, but there’s no doubt that it has gained immense popularity and credibility throughout the digital age.
Put simply, a webinar is an online seminar that allows marketers, salespeople and educators to interact with potential leads in real-time, while offering value through the impairment of knowledge pertaining to a particular subject.
Through webinar marketing, you can undoubtedly create a sense of authority and prominence in your chosen marketplace, while they also provide an interactive vehicle through which to promote your brand, product or a particular service.
Typically, you can use webinars to convert targeted leads, while also building brand awareness and capturing brand new audiences. Of course, your primary objective will impact on the nature and content of your webinar, so it’s important to comprehend your goals before developing a more concrete plan of action.
Even on a fundamental level, product-oriented firms can leverage webinars to demonstrate products practically, creating a comprehensive and versatile marketing channel that’s relatively accessible to small businesses.
Create Infographics to Build Brand Awareness
Have you ever wondered why billboards and similar ad channels rely so heavily on images and graphics (which may comprise two-thirds of a display)?
The answer is that the human brain tends to process images up to 60,000-times faster than text, while as much as 93% of all human communication is visual in its nature.
This rule can also be applied to various iterations of online marketing, with the use of images, graphics and video content crucial to the process of successfully engaging customers in the crowded digital space.
For example, when creating content for your small business blog, you’d be wise to make effective use of infographics. These handy and interactive elements help marketers to present information and data in digestible chunks, while also breaking the flow of continual text and creating a more engaging blog post in the process.
This is particularly handy when sharing lengthy or complex information with your prospective customers, especially if you want to optimise engagement levels and drive superior recall value over a much longer period of time.
The use of infographics represents one of the best and simplest ways to build brand awareness as part of your online marketing campaign, without increasing your overall ad spend.
Make Use of Customer Referral Programs
On the topic of cost-effective and impactful advertising techniques, customer referral programs are highly valuable to small businesses in the UK.
This is borne out by the statistics too; with customers acquired through referrals thought to have a 37% higher retention rate overall. Similarly, 81% of such customers are more likely to engage with brands that feature even rudimentary reward programs, so it’s important to integrate this model into your operation.
There are two main benefits to running a customer referral program as a small business. Firstly, it incentivises customers to initially engage with your brand and spend their hard-earned cash, as this can earn them rewards so long as they’re willing to recommend the business within their social network.
The same incentive then exists for their friends and loved ones who subsequently commit to a paid subscription or purchase, of course, creating an optimal conversion rate over time and helping to build awareness effectively within a short space of time.
In terms of execution, it’s important to maintain a relatively simple referral model and identify the most tangible rewards, in order to optimise participation rates in the scheme and provide an adequate incentive for customers.
Use Email Data to Engage Your Customers Online
There’s a growing issue with online advertising in the digital age, especially when targeting young consumers such as Millennials and the members of Gen Z.
Amid the ongoing saturation of digital advertisements, Millennials have turned to ad-blockers as a way of streamlining their experience when browsing online.
Downloads of such programs were highest among consumers aged between 18 and 24 (34%), with this figure considerably higher than an average of 15% across the UK.
Some 19% of those aged between 25 and 34 are choosing to do the same, meaning that small businesses need to be increasingly selective when looking to target customers online.
One of the most viable methods of online advertising remains email marketing, with some 85% of Brits having sent or received messages through this medium in 2020. A further 99% of this number check their inbox every day, while the associated ROI for email marketing is a whopping £42 for every £1 spent.
What’s more, 91% of advertisers rate email marketing as the single most important channel in the modern age, and one that’s increasingly accessible to small businesses across the board.
Remember, brands are now able to collate significant amounts of customer data, including their name and email address. This provides a seamless way to create tailored and personalised content that’s delivered by email in real-time and likely to trigger incredibly high levels of engagement.
Most importantly, email remains relatively non-intrusive in the eyes of Millennials and other consumer demographics, so you can leverage this channel to successfully reach and engage younger consumers within your audience.
Claim Your Directory Listings
As an entrepreneur, you may be aware of directory listings, which help to create a digital presence for your business and ensures that search engines have detailed information about the venture.
Despite this, however, a surprising number of businesses fail to claim their listings or update them with the most current and accurate information, creating a digital hole into which your venture can sink without further attention.
In many ways, claiming and regularly updating your business listings makes it considerably harder for customers and search engines to locate and display your information respectively, while also reducing the number of citations connected to your brand.
Citations refer to mentions of your company’s name, address and phone number on a website, even in instances where there’s no link directing back to your site.
So, by claiming your listings and ensuring that all citations are consistent across every single directory, you can increase your small business’s online profile without spending significant sums of cash.
Realise the Full Value of Free Ad Promo Credits
Google Ads represent a proven market strategy in the digital age, where it’s possible to achieve a more than viable return on your investment.
However, fierce competition continues to drive up the cost-per-clicks (CPCs) ratio, creating a scenario where your ad budget can be quickly consumed.
Fortunately, there are various ways to access free ad promo credits, which can afford you complimentary advert space and boost your overall marketing returns.
Web hosts and site builders are known to offer Google Ads promo codes on a regular basis, for example, in order to incentivise entrepreneurs and create a more comprehensive package for new businesses.
Currently, recognised industry names like Bluehost are offering a free, $100 Google Ads credit to all new users, usually as part of their paid premium packages.
You can also source credits from Google directly, with this often affording you access to the best value promo codes and free advertising resources.
In fact, Google often offers users free ad credits to new ventures and SME startups, while also running special programs to help provide credits to established and existing users.
The site even ran a special promotion during the coronavirus pandemic, offering free ad credits as part of wider financial incentives to businesses that continued to trade.
Enter Industry Awards
As we can see by now, many of the best and most effective advertising techniques revolve around organic marketing principles.
This is particularly true in the digital age, where customers are exposed to excess paid promotions every day and have become increasingly cynical over time.
Given the relevance and potential impact of organic marketing techniques in the modern age, we’d also recommend entering into selected industry awards and competitions.
Such events are usually highly publicised and may even garner media coverage, while they provide a natural vehicle through which to promote your business’s credentials and core products or services.
Of course, this best works in the case of professional service providers, who can target a professional audience by participating in industry events and build narratives around their involvement through sites such as LinkedIn.
However, it also creates positive PR and an engaging brand narrative regardless of the nature of your business, and this can be leveraged to promote the venture while also sharing relevant news that’s of interest to potential customers.
The Last Word
So, there you have it; 10 tried, tested and mostly affordable ways in which small businesses can advertise themselves successfully.
The key is to tailor your marketing campaigns to incorporate the best and most relevant ad channels, while also leveraging engaging and low-cost options such as OOH media to create the most effective integrated campaigns.
With this type of informed and strategic approach, you can promote your small business and achieve targeted growth even on a restricted budget!