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5 steps to advertising your small business

Advertising is an important, yet complex, affair for many small business owners. But, with some simple steps, you can make the most of the advertising tools on offer and gain traction for your small business.

1. Start with the fundamentals

Start out by writing a basic marketing plan.

This document is designed to help you make better, more informed decisions about the long-term plans to promote your business. It can also help answer some key questions about your business, and act as a reference document to help you execute your advertising strategy.

Make sure you’re clear about your marketing objectives and how you’re going to achieve them. The Australian Government has put out a free marketing plan template that you can use to help set realistic and measurable objectives, including budgets, action plans and implementation schedules.

Market research can also be very beneficial in the early stages of writing your marketing plan, and can help establish your advertising goals.

2. Checks and balances

Set yourself a marketing budget, based on your earnings and expenses. Marketing Angels published a guide for SMEs that offers some indication of what you’ll get for your advertising dollars however, whether that’s right for your business is something only you can decide.

It is also important to bear in mind that your advertising must be factual, all discounts must be genuine and your promotions must not be misleading.

3. Get a website

One of the best investments you’ll make is a great, fully-functional website that’s picked up in a Google search. There are plenty of online tools to help you build your own website such as Wix or WordPress. Alternatively, if you’re not confident you can build a fully-functional website or particularly if your site will offer ecommerce, consider hiring a freelance web developer.

At this point, it’s important to make sure that you’re adequately insured which should cover any unexpected issues with your site, including a cyber attack. In 2015, 30% of businesses in Australia experienced a cyber attack, costing an average of $276,323. As such, cyber insurance is an increasing concern for small business owners, particularly if they do business online or collect customer data. Help ensure a cyber attack doesn’t spell the end of your business or reputation, and make an appointment with a Steadfast insurance broker who can source quotes and tailor protection for your business.

4. Seek help

Small business owners don’t often have time to create their own promotional materials, so make sure you take the time to forge a relationship with a quality freelancer you can call upon when you need web updates, promotional materials and other marketing collateral. The Freelance Collective was established by talented Australian freelancers, and lists a range of quality home grown talent such as graphic designers, copywriters, virtual assistants and web developers, which allows you to reach out to them directly.

Fiverr can also be a great place to look for people to do quick and cheap tasks, such as voice overs, logo updates, graphic design or brochure creation.

Also make sure you take free opportunities to promote your business online, either via your social media channels or free business listings, such as this one offered by Sensis. If you’ve got the budget, you may be able to hire an advertising agency to get the fundamentals right for your small business. Here’s a guide to writing an effective brief.

5. Monitor your efforts

If you can measure it, then you can improve it. So in order to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, it is important to have suitable tracking in place.

Depending on the channel(s) you are using to advertise your business, this may come from a variety of sources. By monitoring these sources regularly, you’ll be better equipped to identify any areas for optimisation and ensure you are on track to achieve your business goals.

For example, Google Analytics is widely considered a “one stop shop” by many website owners, to measure the performance of their site. This tool will provide you with a host of data that you can use to draw insights from your website. Metrics such as page views, time on page, channels of acquisition, conversion rates and more can all be determined and monitored with this tool.

Likewise, if you are advertising on social media, make sure to keep a close eye on the built in analytics. Key metrics such as number of likes, comments, shares, click through rate, and total followers can all be used to measure your social media effectiveness.

 

So whichever way you decide to go, make sure you plan ahead, set a budget and do your research to get the most out of your advertising efforts and dollars.

Article by Steadfast

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