Should you advertise your small business online?

January 25, 2008 by SMD · 1 Comment 

The trend is towards more advertising going to online ads every year

Long standing marketing techniques seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, so to speak. The ever changing business world seems to have taken a turn again. For decades, businesses depended upon word of mouth to get their product in the mind of prospective customers. Then, newspaper, magazine, and television marketing became the way to get the job done. Now, it seems that both online and off line retailers are taking their game to the internet in order to draw you, the consumer, into their web.

That begs the question, though, is online advertising an effective form of getting across a company’s message? Do you, as consumers, respond well to these advertisements when compared to other forms of advertising? Should small business owners allocate more of their advertising budget to online ads? And what kind? These are not simple questions, and their answers depend largely on your particular business and budget. Some recent marketing research might shed at least a little light on the issue.

Internet Use is Growing, Quickly

Each and every year, more and more people spend more and more of their time on the internet. This is why marketing campaigns for the internet are being considered by companies both large and small. Current studies show that, on average, people spend about 20% of their media time on the internet. This information hasn’t quite resonated with some companies, though, as it seems many are still devoting much of their time to advertising on television and in print media.

The Internet is Replacing Television

Life is all about choices, right? When you choose to spend more time on the internet, you have to be giving something up. According to a study which is mentioned in this article about whether online advertising is effective, people have been surrendering their television time in order to spend time at the computer. Sure, some folks might be giving up sleep time or study time, but for the most part, people are replacing their old news watching days with their time surfing the web. This is why more and more companies have been moving some of their allotted television dollars to internet marketing. Thus far, it looks like that decision is paying dividends, especially among younger individuals.

How do you Respond?

Obviously, every person is different, so companies have had to adjust. Advertising on the internet has been a different kind of challenge for marketing professionals. When a company chooses to advertise on a sports radio station, they know that, more than likely, they are going to be marketing their service to middle aged men who are listening at work. The same goes for television. With internet advertising, companies have to take into account a large, diverse dynamic of individuals. Internet users seem to respond well to most forms of online advertising, though. Care should be taken to ensure you don’t alienate and annoy customers with your ads. Some ads are annoying or even frustrating for internet users and this can be a negative. Pop up ads are one example of this, and the recently growing trend of brief audio ads each time a new page on a site is visited may prove to be another. It’s still early to know how people will respond to these growing audio ads, but early indications are they are not well received. Digg .com had some recently and after a huge outcry from Digg users, they said they would remove them.

What Happens from Here?

According to all of the experts, the considerable internet advertising spending should continue to be on the rise. One article anticipates a growth in advertising dollars of more than 4% in the coming year, if not even more growth in internet advertising. It would not be surprising if the growth was higher, as internet use and time continues to rise. After all, most advertisers follow where the people go. It may be time for you to do the same.

Press releases for your small business

August 11, 2007 by Jason Dean · Leave a Comment 

newspaperIf you run a small business in a small town, press releases can generate some pretty big buzz. That’s because small-town newspaper reporters are always looking for something — anything! — to write about. Issuing a press release about your business can make their job easier and result in free publicity for you!

Why Would Anyone Care About Your Business?

Most Americans wish they had the courage to do what you’ve done — risk it all, quit your job, and start your own business. Thus, when they read a story in the newspaper about your business, they can live vicariously through you. Reporters are always looking for stories that will catch readers’ attention, and a well-crafted press release may end up being printed verbatim in the local paper.

Formatting the Press Release

First of all, use company letterhead. If you do not have your own letterhead, consider investing $50 in having some designed. Or, an even less expensive route is to use one of the letterhead templates in Microsoft Word.

Next, come up with a good, attention-grabbing headline. Newspaper editors get dozens of press releases every day, so in order for yours to stand out, you have to have a good headline. Another secret is that newspaper editors can be a little lazy, so it’s quite possible that the headline of your press release could be the headline of the story — so make it good!

Put the headline in bold font, at least a few font-sizes larger than the main body of the text. Then put a two-sentence subheading directly below the title covering the main gist of the press release. This should be in a normal-sized font, but bold.

Start the main body of your press release with a dateline. A dateline consists of the city and state of the press release’s origin or where the event took place / will take place, followed by the date of the release and two dashes, all in italics. For example: Henderson, NV (08/11/2007)–.

As for the main body, the press release should be concise and to the point — no fluff, and no more than two pages in length (one page is best). And the information must be newsworthy to some extent — it can’t just be obvious advertising. A grand opening is a good story, but a big sale is not. For businesses already in operation, press releases have to be a little more creative.

Why Bother with Old-School Marketing?

If you follow these guidelines, most small-town newspapers will be happy to run your story. In the modern age, search engines and viral marketing are the entrepreneur’s #1 tools, but old-school / low-tech marketing still has its place. The readers of local newspapers may not be frequent Net users, so getting covered in print lets you reach customers you otherwise might not.