Six Steps to Effectively Advertise Your New Business

Updated: Jan 25

As a new business owner, one of the first questions that came to my mind was, how do I advertise? After all, isn’t the first requirement of business success a customer? What media do I use? Do I need a website, radio or television spots, newspaper or magazine spreads? Should I hire a public relations firm? What is all of this going to cost? Amazingly, there has never been a better time to advertise a business, with the proliferation of low cost advertising options that literally didn’t exist 5 – 10 years ago. Here are six steps to effectively advertise your new business.


1. Develop a Presence on the Web

If you want to maximize your marketing budget, you absolutely must publish your own website. It doesn’t matter if your business is local or international in nature, if you don’t have a website, you are likely missing opportunities. Most potential customers will check your website before actual contact is made, so a website is critical. Obtaining and setting up a website is surprisingly easy and quite inexpensive. My first website cost me $120 a year (including the domain name). I have since opted for a more actively managed website with additional features and still spend under $500 a year on it.

Next, and equally as important, you must get your business listed on Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines as quickly as possible. This provides your business listing when people search for your business or certain keywords relative to your industry and market in one of these search engines. By the way, all of this is free of charge!

  1. Google Places: https://www.google.com/places

  2. Yahoo: http://www.smallbusiness.yahoo.com

  3. Microsoft Bing Business Portal: http://www.bing.com/businessportal

2. Business Cards and Brochures

Developing great business cards, brochures or other promotional materials are essential to create as quickly as possible. These serve to reinforce the marketing message, no matter the method of delivery. They need to be consistent, sharp and detailed. The link below is a great follow-up article on using your business card as a marketing vehicle.

http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/marketing/qt/bizcardmarket.htm


3. Referrals

In the accounting profession, referrals from past clients, associates and employers are crucial, especially at the beginning. These people present the necessary credibility to your potential customer to allow you inside their door. Think through your contact list and make some calls, set up some meetings, invite them to lunch. Take the time to walk through what is you are doing, how it differs from the competition, why it is important, and how you can better serve them.

I think this process applies to all new businesses. Most of us have started a business that largely builds upon the same skills, practices and markets we’ve been associated with earlier in our careers. We have a number of contacts that can help earn us some early wins.


4. Utilize Trade Resources

Let’s face it, for every industry there is a trade association, and that trade association provides some marketing potential at a reasonable cost. If your market is regional or national in scope, it may be you can buy space in information email broadcasts, etc.


5. Local Phone Book

This may shock you, but I don’t believe it’s necessary to have the largest ad in the phone book for your business. In fact, I would argue that it is only necessary to have your phone number listed. Why? Ask your son or daughter to find the phone number for John Smith sometime, it’s a treat! They turn around, march to the computer and pull up Google search and start typing. They have no clue what that giant book by the phone is or what you do with it. It used to be the phone book provided that necessary measure of comfort and credibility for a potential customer. Not so anymore; it’s your website!


6. Utilize Social Media

Understanding that social media has been with us for a while now and many of us are still newbies to it. At times, the proliferation of options and terms is mystical and the value of their impact are somewhat difficult to quantify, but I’m convinced that social media presents us with opportunities to drive more traffic to your website at little financial cost; especially in the knowledge professions. The more traffic is generated, the greater likelihood of potential contact. The investment here is largely in time and that time investment can be winnowed down with learning and experience. Here are four suggestions to consider:

  1. Linkedin – This is a social networking website for those in professional occupations, with over 100 million users. This is a great resource in making contacts initially, including those individuals from your past employments that could serve as references or referrals for you. Basic cost – $0

  2. Facebook – This is by far the largest personal social network on the planet that also allows businesses to set up pages.  I feed this page my weekly blog post along with relevant articles throughout the week for those who like or come across my business page.  Basic cost – $0

  3. Twitter – Surprisingly to me, this has been a great tool to share information, and as a CPA, I need to be able to do that effectively.  I certainly haven’t mastered the language (hashtags, etc.), but I don’t know that you really need to. Keep the message short and relevant and always provide a link, preferably to your website.  Basic cost – $0

  4. Instagram and Pinterest – While we’re not using these yet for UCentric Solutions, these are excellent tools for product-related, personal services and other types of businesses.

Generally, my experience is that newspaper ads and radio advertisements are typically the most expensive and most ineffective forms of advertisement for a business. Newspaper subscription numbers continue to dwindle dramatically and we are seeing the same trends beginning to take shape with television. Save your money and concentrate your efforts on the list above. If you’re looking for more ideas, here is a link to a great article on marketing ideas.

If you have questions or comments on this article, I welcome your feedback.  Comment on our Facebook page.  If you’d like to schedule a call with us, click on this link.

Just a reminder; the next two articles in the Where Do I Start? series will address the question of a home-based business owner, When Should I Rent Space?

#smallbusiness #startup #wheredoistart

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