The 6 Best Ways to Advertise Your Small Business

Small business owners can often feel a bit overwhelmed when considering the many ways to advertise. Who can blame them? With the emergence of the internet, there are so many options to consider.

Maybe you’re in this situation right now. You know your business has a lot to offer, and that spreading the word is necessary for success. You might even have a budget set aside for marketing. But how should you go about it? What will give you the best results for the best price? What combination of traditional and digital advertising will create the results you crave?

Let’s face it – there are hundreds of ways to advertise, and you want to pick the ones that really WORK. I picked six of my favourites to help you get started.

1. Word of mouth.

Seeking referrals and networking – also known as “word of mouth marketing” – is the most timeless way to get new business. If you make a good impression and share your small business with your network, people will naturally recommend you to friends and family!

Cost: Free (possible extra costs include referral incentives, business cards, and salesperson salaries/commission)

Pros: Builds trust, highly effective, long lasting results, low cost, can happen naturally with a positive company culture

Cons: Hard to track and control, access only one person at a time (as opposed to a large number of impressions), must build up your reputation over time

2. Facebook ads.

As of 2016, there were 4 million businesses taking advantage of Facebook advertising. With killer targeting and low cost per click, it’s easy to see why the social network is so popular with savvy advertisers.

Cost: The average cost per click ranges from $0.63 (travel and tourism) to $3.77 (finance and insurance), putting this at the top of the list for digital marketing ROI. You can check out the average for your industry here. However, unless you are a social media whiz yourself, you’ll likely need some technical and creative support to get real results from your ads. Facebook ad management options range from $100 per month with needls to up to $4,000/month for an in-house social media manager. You can read more about pricing for Facebook ads management here.

Pros: Great targeting, affordable (depending on management option used), highly measurable, helps you better understand your customers and pick new ways to advertise

Cons: Effectiveness can depend on your social media presence/website landing pages, it can take some time to optimize ads, negative comments can appear

3. Trade shows.

A great way to build relationships with people interested in your product or service is to buy space at an industry-appropriate trade show. Not only will it introduce you to future clients, it allows you to meet other small business owners in your space for future collaborations and networking.

Cost: Trade show spots can range from $50 for a table at a small mall pop-up to $300 and up for a space at larger shows. Other costs include electricity, insurance, promotional items, staffing and the design/printing of your booth. Altogether, you should plan on spending an average of $100-$150 per square foot for attending a trade show.

Pros: Visibility in your industry, opportunity to build relationships and pitch to larger potential customers, highly visual and personal

Cons: Requires a great deal of planning and upfront costs, may make more sense for vendors selling higher ticket items

4. Google Adwords.

Google receives an average of 40,000 searches every second. Many of those searchers are looking for nearby storefronts and services, which means they could be looking for YOU. Google Adwords allows your site listing to show up at the top of the page when someone searches for your product or service. It’s one of the best ways to advertise your business to people ready to buy!

Cost: Adwords operates on a “bidding” model, so the more competitive your industry the higher your cost per click will be. The average sits between $1 and $2, though advertisers vying for the top spot with highly competitive keywords will see higher price tags. Like Facebook, Adwords management fees will also be involved for those who wish to outsource this process.

Pros: Great targeting, ads shown to highly qualified buyers (people who are searching for your product/service), highly measurable

Cons: Requires expertise or professional support to setup, effectiveness can depend on your social media presence/website landing pages, it can take some time to optimize ads

5. Direct mail.

Direct mail is a great way to use the power of targeting while also getting the benefit of a physical ad right in your potential customers’ hands.

Cost: Postage, design, and printing costs can make direct mail a pricier option, though high response rates often make up for it. In Canada, plan on spending between 20 cents and $1 per direct mail piece. The more you send, the cheaper your cost per piece will be.

Pros: Decent targeting (geography, household income), lots of opportunities to be creative or personalize, high response rate

Cons: Can be costly, challenges with measuring response, hard to adjust once mailpieces are printed and postage is ordered

6. Email marketing.

If you have a list of people who have signed up to hear from you, well, you should be talking to them! Collecting email addresses through your website or as a daily business practice can help you reach out to potential customers and keep loyal fans engaged. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable ways to advertise your business!

Cost: Free to start with a platform like MailChimp or MailerLite. As your list grows, you may want to pay a monthly fee for a program with more features or a professional copywriter to get the most out of your emails.

Pros: Low cost with great ROI, highly measurable, can feel personal, great for promoting word of mouth

Cons: Requires maintenance and creativity to be successful (should add value to followers, not just sell), need to follow strong anti-spam laws (CASL) if in Canada

How to Choose the Best Ways to Advertise for YOUR Business

Let’s be honest – one-size-fits-all solutions rarely work for all small businesses. We’ve seen some killer results from Facebook campaigns across many industries, but it’s ultimately up to YOU what will work for your brand.

So, analyze your audience. Establish your budget. Get your website and phone answering systems ready to capture leads, then take a peek at all the options available. And as always, give us a shout if you need any help along the way!

Shauna Vert

Shauna is a data-driven storyteller and content marketing guru. A longtime blogger turned digital strategist, she believes marketing greatness comes from creative ideas, real connections, and giving buzzwords the boot. She can usually be found hanging out at the family farm or tucked away in a local coffee shop, reading about the latest digital trends.