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Small Business Advertising Trends of 2017

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To successfully reach today’s savvy consumers, small businesses must be on the look-out for new and exciting ways to communicate their message. A few of the many benefits of advertising include communicating the value of your products or services to customers, establishing your brand identity, improving your reputation and attracting new customers. As we step into this new year, we wanted to share the top up and coming trends that are proven to help small businesses increase their advertising reach and engage new and current customers. These top trends include Facebook and other online advertising, purpose driven marketing, and in-store promotions.  

Advertise with Facebook

Facebook is an effective, low-cost, and easy advertising platform that all small businesses should consider. Many small businesses are aware of the many benefits of social media marketing, which we’ve discussed at length in our past blog posts. However, because Facebook advertising is new and evolving, many are surprised by the wide range of opportunities it offers, especially to small businesses.  

Facebook puts the power of advertising into the business owner’s hands. Facebook allows small business owners to communicate unique and creative messages to their specific target customers, without having to rely on an agency.

Thanks to the extensive amount of user information in the Facebook database, Facebook allows small businesses to create ads with extremely detailed targeting. You can target by highly specific demographics, location, and even interests. For instance, if you own a women’s clothing shop and want to raise awareness of a new promotion, you can target women above the age of 18 who are interested in fashion and live in your specific town or city. If you hope to reach your actual, current customers, you can even create ads that only reach users with a specific email addresses!

Facebook Advertising is extremely versatile and can be flexible to your business needs and objectives. Facebook offers 11 different ad formats so small business owners can chose the one that best fits their goals.  Different ads address different business opportunities, from increasing engagement on your website to communicating with customers in your local area. Within each specific ad format, you can add your own creative that will best resonate with your specific customers. Facebook even provides tools that help small businesses tell their story in creative ways, including Creative Inspiration, Creative Tips, and Story Packs.  

Even better, Facebook requires only small amounts of time and resources. Facebook Ads are extremely easy to create, and Facebook provides extensive free resources and customer service for small business owners.

Consider Purpose-Driven Marketing

Purpose-driven marketing allows small businesses to connect with customers based on their shared interest in supporting a worthy cause. Many local businesses are actively involved in the betterment of their communities, and recognize the importance of “giving back”. Small business owners should make sure to incorporate these efforts in their advertising campaigns. While helping raise awareness of a specific cause to a larger audience, you will give your brand and story a stronger presence that resonates with the heart of consumers.

A recent Unilever Consumer Study found that 33% of consumers are now choosing to buy from brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good. Further, 74% of employees say that their job is more fulfilling when they make a positive impact. If you communicate your involvement with a charitable event or association, your customers and employees will see you as a business that cares.

A great way to incorporate purpose-driven marketing into your advertising efforts is to provide a promotion where a portion of sales will go to a specific charitable cause. The same Unilever study found that 72% of consumers have donated to a charity at the register, and 65% of consumers felt positively about the retailer after giving. You will boost your sales and improve your brand while giving to a great cause. Clearly, purpose-driven marketing is a win-win.

If you’d like for your business to become involved in a local charity, here is a great tool to find one that fits.

Integrate In-Store and On-Line Promotions

In today’s digital world, many small business owners focus much of their advertising efforts online. While online is certainly an important place to reach customers, small businesses should not forget about the in-store experience.  

Online advertising is extremely powerful when used in conjunction with in-store promotions. Newspaper-backed local shopping platform Wanderful Media surveyed over 1,000 U.S. adults and found that 91% of respondents have gone into a store because of online promotions. The top online experiences included email promotions, coupons, and online ads. There is clearly value in using advertising promotions online to get new and current customers into your store.

One great way to communicate in-store promotions is through email. Email is the most common channel that causes consumers to visit a store. If you have a customer email list, you should consider creating an account with an easy and effective email marketing tool, such as MailChimp,  and send your customers emails about a special in-store price or promotion. To reach potential customers, you could consider creating a contact form or newsletter sign up on your website, which will allow you to collect their email addresses and reach them via email as well.

Another great way to communicate in-store promotions is through online coupons. You can distribute online coupons as a banner or popup on your website, as a banner ad, or through social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If customers click and redeem these coupons online, they can receive an in-store discount or promotion. Here is a great guide to help small business create and distribute effective online coupons.

Take Advantage of Google AdWords

Paid on-line advertising is becoming a popular way for small businesses to get more traffic to their site and ultimately grow their business.  Online advertising is cost-effective and like Facebook, offers a great way to target your ads to a specific audience. There are a variety of different types of online advertising that can be valuable to small businesses.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising has proven to be one of the most effective type of online advertising for small businesses specifically. These ads appear in the margin of a search engine, and encourage users to click the ads for more information. The advertiser will only be charged if the user clicks the ad to reach your business site.

Many PPC Ads are specifically “Search Ads.” Google AdWords is the most popular search ad tool for small businesses. When a user searches specific keywords, they will trigger text-based ads to display, based on these keywords. So for instance, if a hair salon creates a Search Ad, they can specific keywords, such as “Best Hair Salon”, “Hair Cut”, “Hair Color” and specify the location of their shop. When a user searches for these keywords and is within the specified location, they will see a search ad for that specific hair salon.  The business will only be charged if the user clicks on this search ad.

PPC advertising continues to grow in popularity because it is relatively easy and cost effective. Further, it allows small businesses to get their advertisements in front of potential customers. These ads are highly targeted, and users only receive the most relevant ads to their specific search.

There are a variety of easy and effective ways that small businesses can use advertising to reach their customers. Some of these trends may work better than others, based on your specific business, so take some time to consider how you can get the best advertising ROI based on your needs, goals, and customers. We’re sure that you’ll see great results by keeping these trends top of mind this year.  

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