Your advertising strategy is your map to selling a product or service. It isn’t a flat, one-dimensional effort, but often takes on many different roles and stretches across a variety of platforms. If you want to get extremely technical, you can look at official marketing ideas, such as rebranding, repositioning and reframing your brand. However, if you’re like most business owners, you want to know where you should advertise and the best way to grab attention in an overcrowded marketplace.
Although your advertising strategies can include some offline options, online methods might well bring you more bang for your buck. This year, digital ad spending hit more than $333 billion, or about 50% of the worldwide ad market. We’ll take a look at both online and offline ideas below, but try to go heavy on the side of digital, even if your business is a brick-and-mortar physical space.
1. Network With Others
If you aren’t part of a broader network of business owners, you’re missing out on a lot of advertising ideas you might not think of on your own. Networking with like-minded people helps you avoid the problems they’ve encountered and repeat any successes. As they share their knowledge and results from their advertising, you’ll get ideas for what might work for you and what might not. Thinking about having your car wrapped? Ask if anyone in your group has tried this and what their results were. Did they get a good return on investment?
If you can’t find a local group, you can always sign up for an online group of business owners and learn from them. The key is to ask the right questions and pay attention to what they’ve experienced. While each business is unique, you can make your campaigns more successful by listening to what worked for other brands.
2. Analyze Your Audience
It’s much more challenging to come up with a decent advertising strategy if you don’t know your audience well. Dig into your internal data about your customers, and also study your typical buyer persona’s habits. Think about what they search for before they visit your site, as this often clues you into what the customer’s pain points are. If you know what the problem is and why they turn to you for a solution, you can better address that issue in your advertising.
3. Add Eye-Catching Signage
In one survey, 50% of respondents stated their first exposure to a business was from a sign they saw while driving past. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, you must have a beautiful store sign, as well as additional signage to advertise sales, specials or display catchy invitations to come on in. A sign can help you stand out from your competition, grab attention in a busy strip mall and advertise sales and other offers. It’s also a fairly inexpensive means of advertising.
4. Support Your Community
Get your name out locally, so you’re top of mind when people want what you offer. Sponsor local groups, charities and youth activities. For example, you might sponsor a school baseball team, take out an ad in the high school newspaper or donate to the local chapter of your favorite charity. Think about what groups align with your values as a brand, and also who is likely your target audience. If you sell ice cream, sponsoring little league teams puts your name in front of both the children and their parents and is likely to bring in foot traffic.
5. Engage on Social Media
Social media is still a viable place to advertise and seek out new customers. Even though Google is still the largest digital ad seller, Facebook comes in second place, with $67.37 billion in ad revenue. A significant portion of your advertising strategy should involve social media outlets such as Facebook. One of the most notable advantages of using Facebook for advertising is the ability to home in on a highly specific audience. You can even limit ads to people living within a designated ZIP code or with particular interests.
However, your advertising strategy needs to be more than just throwing up an ad. You must also schedule posts and engage with your followers.
6. Find an Influencer or Several
People tend to trust others more than a brand saying something about itself, which is where working with influencers can become a vital part of your marketing efforts. Typically, the audience that follows influencers does so due to trust. Find one whose audience aligns with your type of buyers and enlist their help to get the word out about your product.
7. Create an Amazing Website
Your website is like your digital storefront. Think through how well it aligns with your overall company mission and branding efforts. Are the colors and logo the same as what someone sees when they come into your store or step inside your office? Ideally, you’ll use consistent branding throughout all your marketing efforts. Your website should be easy to use, contain only information that drives site visitors to become buyers and be on-trend and up to date. If you haven’t updated your website in a while and you’re doing a big advertising push, refresh your site before advertising anywhere.
8. Release a Mobile App
Around 96% of Americans own a cellphone, and 81% own a smartphone. More and more people access the internet via their mobile devices, thanks to better connectivity and faster mobile data speeds. Reach potential customers by releasing a mobile app related to your products and services. For example, you might provide an app that pings the user as they pass by your store and offers coupons or tells them what is on sale or new arrivals that day. Mobile apps also allow you to collect shopping habits, buying history and personalize the experience to each user.
9. Send out Coupons
Coupons are an advertising tactic as old as newspapers. Today, advertising a special price offer in a newspaper is far from your only option, though. You can email a coupon, place one on your website, offer one through an app or mail it directly to people’s homes. Discounts are a strategic way to get new people to try you out, so any growth push should include a coupon offer. You can even combine coupons with other advertising efforts.
10. Sit at a Booth
We live in an impersonal world filled with automated checkouts at retailers, electronic bank tellers and people who sit behind a computer screen for customer service help. Because of the digital nature of everything, the personal touch is a useful marketing tactic, especially if you are selling yourself as part of the brand, such as in service industries. Set up a booth at a local community fair or conference and meet potential customers in person. Make sure anyone staffing your booth is fully trained and vetted on your practices and philosophies. They are the face of your brand at this event.
11. Pay for Clicks
As mentioned before, Google is the No. 1 place brands spend advertising dollars. That’s because it is the world’s most widely used search engine, and it drives traffic via pay-per-click campaigns. To advertise successfully via clicks, you must know the types of keywords people search for. Think about questions someone might ask when needing what you offer, and do some research on sites such as SEMRush on what keywords your competitors use. Once you have a few terms you think your target audience likely uses, go ahead and test some advertising strategies.
Forget the Technical
Leave the technical jargon and ideas about rebranding or repositioning a product to the leaders in your company and focus on advertising where it makes the most sense and you’re most likely to gain new customers. At the same time, work hard to keep your current customers, as they are more likely to buy again and may tell others about your company. When you use a mix of different strategies, your business should grow over time.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.