Startup companies are careful with their capital. For this reason, many wait to implement an advertising strategy, but if businesses wait too long, their customers may go elsewhere.

While it's true startups don't have the millions of dollars big companies have to pour into flashy advertising campaigns, there are many inexpensive advertising tactics small businesses can take to promote themselves.

The Right Time to Launch Small Business Advertising

When should you launch a small business advertising campaign? According to Entrepreneur, it's when three factors align: information, time and money.

  • Information: First, ask yourself what information you wish to convey to customers. Are you hoping to attract new customers or remind recent customers to return? Do you have a sale or special event to promote? Is your business launching a new product, service or location? These all call for publicity. Whether a print advertising campaign, online ad, social media ad or other small business advertising technique is more appropriate depends on the message and the audience.
  • Time: You need time to prepare an ad, find a good designer and copywriter and research places to run the ad. You'll also need adequate time for the ad to reach the most people. Running an ad once doesn't work. In today's media-saturated world, you may need to run your ad many times to catch a customer's attention. Be sure to leave enough time to create an effective ad and to generate a return.
  • Money: Many small business owners grossly underestimate the costs of producing a truly effective ad. To get a more accurate estimate, begin calculating potential costs as soon as you have the information and time. Set specific, measurable goals for your ad to measure the return on your investment. Leave plenty of room for the cost of advertising design.

Where to Advertise

Your ad placement decision will depend on your business, geographic targets and audience needs, among other factors. Forbes also recommends that small businesses focus on current customers. Ask yourself:

  • Does my business depend on local walk-in traffic only? If so, consider print advertising in local newspapers, radio ads and targeted local search marketing.
  • Do I sell products to a national audience? The most cost-effective way to reach a national audience is through search engine marketing and advertising. Social media advertising may also be useful.
  • Are my customers concentrated in one specific industry? If you can narrow your audience down to a specific industry, consider working with trade groups, industry publications and other interest groups to reach a specific set of customers.

Most small business owners should advertise more, rather than less. If you're considering small business advertising, it's probably time to create your first ad campaign. Advertising can raise awareness and help you attract and retain customers, the lifeblood of a small business.

Tags: Advertising