As the world makes the shift to Internet media, many print advertisers find that their readership is waning. Small businesses need new ways to advertise.
The death of print media has been a hot debate topic among market predictors. Simply put, if print advertising dies, print media will die along with it because print is too expensive to produce and distribute without supplemental advertising. It is clear that television and the web are outpacing print media in terms of profitability, but print offers an undeniable comfort appeal. Sitting at an outdoor café while accessing the news via laptop doesn't have quite the same hands-on satisfaction of leaning back in a chair and reading a newspaper. Even so, the world of advertising has changed, and the way products are marketed has changed with it!
Perhaps the most difficult thing for any company to achieve is capturing and keeping consumer attention by cutting through the sensory, visual, and auditory clutter of today's marketing. The increasingly aggressive marketing presence of deep-pocketed big business competitors drives many smaller competitors out of the market before they even get a foothold. Small companies have to ensure the future of their businesses by making a splash and using very creative marketing techniques. The days of succeeding with ads in the local newspaper are gone; you need more than that if you want people to notice you!
The target market is the first thing a company must determine in order to launch a successful ad campaign. Targeted advertising is far more successful than a scattershot approach, especially if working with a limited budget. Here are some alternative ideas for cost effective local advertising:
Use the Web
Find local web sources and use them. The more positive buzz that includes the company name, the better! Build an opt-in newsletter by offering something of interest to potential subscribers. Submit your company to web searches and directories and make sure the information is complete and up-to-date. Offer incentives for web clicks and linkbacks such as downloadable coupons, online ordering, or fresh and interesting content. Create colorful banners and ask loyal customers and network connections to post them on blogs, personal web pages, and non-competitive business web sites.
Support Local Youth Sports
This can be very effective for local restaurants, retailers, or service providers. Seek out the executive board of local sports organizations and volunteer to sponsor. Restaurants that offer a kickback (10% of the cost of meals given to the organization if diners mention the organization name) can expect heavy promotion and participation.
Local sports organizations often look for small gifts for the kids or for spirit items for supporters. Businesses can get into the act by providing promotional products like flags or noisemakers, mini sports balls, pencils or pens, or ball caps with the team logo on one side and a small business logo or credit on the other.
Networking groups or professional organizations build network connections. Business success often depends on who you know and how many people know you.
Get on the News
Charity often leads to news stories. Promote your business for free by participating in local charity events and collections. Sponsor a local charity, event, or walk by providing branded water bottles with your logo. Local morning chat shows often look for interesting guests to interview, and it often only takes a phone call to book an appearance.
Find some commonality among your clients and host weekly events. An independent toy store or bookstore might consider a new toy demo or story time; try to organize a weekly event that allows kids supervised play while the parents are served coffee in an adjacent (and quiet) room. Card or comic trading sessions are often popular among elementary and middle-school-aged kids. Other popular events might include free health screenings for doctor's offices (blood pressure, spinal exam, diabetes tests) or group meetings (book clubs, photography, support). To make your event special, offer something unique like magazines or videos that relate to the meeting or group purpose.
How to Advertise on a Modest Budget
Budget Promos with a Punch
Why is Advertising So Important During a Recession?
Print Advertising is Dead
Why Marketing Dollars Are Always the First to Be Cut in a Difficult Economy
What Makes a Good Logo?
How to Start a Small Screen Printing Business