How Should Small Businesses Approach Online Advertising?

These days, many small businesses are looking at the large and growing number of ways in which they can advertise themselves to specific people. Some may go the free route, through social networks and similar plans, while others will continue to pay for traditional advertising on TV, radio, and in newspapers. But it seems that there’s an emerging middle road that could be a major boon as long as companies are careful about it.

The fact of the matter is that while many companies are – and should be – focusing on building their social media presence, they may not be reaching all the eyes they might like, according to a report from the Inland Press. This is because it may be all well and good to try to generate page views and business in this way, the audience for the posts companies make on Facebook, Twitter, and so on, may be limited, particular at first. Instead, it might be wise for companies to invest in ads on these sites.

Doing so can have a wide number of benefits, particularly for small businesses, the report said. For one thing, these kinds of ads can be extremely low-cost, particularly in comparison with those for newspapers or other traditional avenues. Further, they can be extremely targeted. The amount of information sites like Facebook gather about their users is massive, and that can lead to a significant benefit for those companies with very specific demographics in mind.

“Most publishers have no idea that you can place an ad on Facebook for males over 35 who are interested in sailing who live in Warwick, Rhode Island, and have a college degree,” Bill Ostendorf, president and founder of the online marketing company Creative Circle Media Solutions, told the site. They can target your town, your demographics. They are poised to eat us alive.”

Of course, Ostendorf also noted that the current concept of social marketing may not actually behoove the companies involved, as it could just prompt consumers to keep visiting Facebook or Twitter as a means of getting their small business updates, rather than checking a company’s site in general, the report said. Nonetheless, more than half of Facebook’s $2 billion in annual ad revenues comes from small and medium businesses, even as research shows that those ads might not be as effective as others.

What does this mean?
Essentially, companies that are established in their markets may not have to rely on this kind of online advertising as a means of reaching consumers, because their customer bases are likely already established and reliable. Those just starting out, however, may want to get a jump on this kind of thing, as it may provide them with a good way of initially introducing themselves to their target demographic in the market. Once they have been able to successfully establish their presence in their local areas – usually with a little bit of traditional advertising mixed in – then companies can turn their attentions to growing through the emerging social marketing sphere instead.

As many owners already know, though, advertising through any means usually isn’t cheap, and it’s also not always the most effective way of ensuring that people come through the doors. For this reason, companies – and particularly new ones – may need to shore up their financial standings before they make any major ad decisions. Finding low-cost small business insurance is one great way to do so. Cutting costs for workers’ compensation or general liability insurance, for instance, can save large amounts of money every year, which can be devoted to other pressing areas instead.