When you’re trying to decide how to really take your start-up to the next level, advertising can easily be your biggest concern. How much do you spend? What will guarantee the best return? What do people really pay attention to? Advertising experts usually suggest 7 percent of your projected sales should go to ad campaigns and promotions, but when you factor in variables like cost of transaction, rent, and geographic location, the budget formula can be much more complicated. And then, of course, there’s deciding how much of your advertising should be online and how much should be offline. You probably keep up with the trends in business enough to know that online advertising is rapidly growing, but you might want to think twice before you focus all your energy on websites and social media. The affordability and level playing field of the internet can be tempting, but it’s important that you legitimize your business outside the computer and avoid becoming just another option in cyberspace.
1. The Growth in Online Marketing
The internet has revolutionized small business on every level, and advertising is a major part of that. Now, almost anyone can be an entrepreneur and compete in markets usually dominated by larger companies. Social media is a relevant, wide-reaching, and virtually cost-free way to advertise to millions of people. The ROI agency Zenith Optimedia reports that of the $23 billion in advertising growth expected for 2013, $13 billion or more will be in online advertising. That’s more than half the entire growth focused on a medium that costs much less on average than concrete, offline methods. So it’s no wonder the trend is being emphasized in business media. Yes, every business needs a website – it’s no longer an option anymore. Yes, you need a Facebook page, Twitter, and other social media profiles to maximize your brand exposure. But the greater and more level playing field of the internet also creates greater competition and more pressure than ever to stand out from the crowd.
2. Why Offline is Still Relevant
No matter how many people want to tell you advertising is becoming entirely online, consider that the growth might be far less than you imagine. Research group eMarketer says 25 percent of advertising across all mediums will be spent online by 2016. But 75 percent of advertising will still be offline, and even entirely internet-based companies will still spend much more on traditional marketing. The big reason for this is legitimization. Businesses that operate entirely online still have a stigma of being less developed and less legitimate than offline businesses, and the lack of streamlining in the online market can leave customers unsure of who they should trust or take seriously. Print advertising in the form of ads, coupons, banners, billboards, and flyers might cost slightly more, but it’s also proven to yield far better results. When running a new business, you can never forget that 9 out of 10 start-ups don’t make it past the first 5 years, and this has a lot to do with how easy the internet has made it to create one. If you want to be the exception to the rule, you can’t always choose the easy option.
3. The Best Ways to Advertise Your Website
While concentrating on your local market might seem limiting, it’s the best way to ensure your longevity. It also helps you work on your brand. You should start by designing banners for your company with a very specific and clear logo on them, so you can place them at traffic-heavy locations around town. Banners are also essential for trade shows and conventions, which you should be focused on attending. Make sure your banners and other signs you order for your business such as car magnets or even billboards feature your web address. Customers are far more likely to go home and look up your business online if they’ve already seen proof it exists outside of cyberspace. In that way, you can use the internet trend to your advantage without falling prey to the downside. Business cards, coupons, and magazine ads should always feature your internet details, and so should door hangers and even freebies you use to promote your company. All of these methods work great for creating a strong return on sales, and when you use them to show your customers that you’re more than just an online start-up, they work even better.
Many of the principals of business lend themselves to offline advertising and its benefits – building a strong foundation, bucking the trends, and standing out from the crowd are just a few of them. But embracing the new world of online marketing is essential, too, and you can’t ignore the fact that more and more people are putting down newspapers and turning on the computer. For now, the best marketing is symbiotic. You can’t make it work for you without something old and something new working together.