Ultimately, people need to know about your business – so you probably need to spend!
But otherwise I don’t know where to start this. For me, advertising has probably been the most mystical part of running a business. And every business is different with different goals and geographical reach etc. And there are different ways of advertising. And often it’s not easy to tell whether advertising is working or not. And to be honest – I’m not an expert! We were lucky in that a lot of clients for Proudhouse Property Management have come from word of mouth and referrals.
However, what I can write about is some of the lessons learned. Proudhouse started trading in 2013 and at that time newspaper advertising was still strong. As were flyer drops etc. However, it was expensive and there was no proper tracking of the performance of your advert. And you had to deal with the advertising agent at the local rag who would always try and inflate how great it was… “your advert has been printed 100,000 times and delivered all across South Somerset this week”. Ok – but how many people actually looked at my advert?…
Of course – internet advertising does provide useful metrics, eg, the number of people who ‘click through’ your advert – or how long people watch a video for – or the demographics of viewers etc. As soon as we discovered internet advertising, we never looked back and advertising in local newspapers was dead.
So – some bullets:
- Define your goal – what is your USP or feature product and focus on this
- Don’t do copy-cat advertising. Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean it’s effective. It’s far nicer to lead the way and then watch the competition follow you!
- Set an advertising budget and strategy and stick to it.
- Be careful when receiving cold-calls from people claiming to be working for Google or working on behalf of a charity or the local fire-brigade etc. It’s usually boll*cks and they’re actually 3rd party agents trying to suck you into a quasi-scam.
- Online advertising trends change – as do the format and dimensions etc for different platforms, eg Instagram, Facebook etc. Watch some recent YouTube explainers for the latest advice. And on this subject – watch several different YouTubers and get a consensus and feel for what you think is right for your business. Don’t just do follow what one person says – your business might not be their target audience.
- Is advertising even right for your business? Actually, money spent on networking, conferences or even hosting your open-days/forums might be more effective lead generation
- Not all advertising has to be obvious and direct. Sponsoring local events can be a great way of building brand awareness.
- Often the people who might be most aware of your business, is other businesses. So creating mutually beneficial relationships can be great.
- And finally, as the last few points have alluded to – word-of-mouth advertising is probably the most effective method. Can you leverage your existing client-book? perhaps an incentive for existing clients who can refer new clients to you.
That’s about it – it can feel like trial and error. And not only can advertising be expensive, there are also additional costs for graphic design, printing etc. It’s something to think carefully about. But have a plan, strategy and budget – don’t take a random ‘willy nilly’ approach!
In 2023, we’re moving into video advertising on Instagram – we created this advert (below) ourselves relatively easily with a video editor. Licencing for the imagery and music is vital – but fairly easy to acquire. And actually, if you have someone in your business who can create the content then it can become quite good fun!