Marketing Your Small Business On A Shoestring Budget

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For small businesses with relatively modest marketing budgets, it can sometimes feel as though most paid media channels are totally out of reach. Big media buys require major investment, which can limit the options available to small businesses. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for small business in paid media — in fact, digital models, which allow for much more granular targeting and smaller buys than traditional media, have done a lot to open up opportunities for those companies.  

There’s a lot of room in digital media for small businesses to put modest media budgets to work. If you’re new to paid media, and unsure of where to channel your ad dollars, this article explores the benefits of four different options.

1.  Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click is the most obvious paid media option that immediately comes to mind for small businesses. With pay-per-click advertising (also referred to as paid search and search engine marketing), your ads will be shown to users in search engine results based on user search queries.

As the name suggests, the cost to the advertiser is on a per-click basis. Costs can vary dramatically based on the competitiveness of the keyword in question — the more competitive a keyword, the more you can expect to pay for each click. The benefit to small businesses, though, is the ability to target users who have already shown interest in what your company has to offer, which is generally a more cost-effective approach than blasting marketing messages at wide, unknown audiences.

One thing for small businesses to keep in mind when running PPC campaigns is to avoid falling into the head-term trap. Head-terms are broad, non-specific keyword phrases with lots of search traffic, and that means they’re more expensive. Let’s say you’re a personal accounting firm based in New York. The keyword “accounting firm” is, technically speaking, representative of your business and services. So it makes sense to bid for it, right? But “accounting firm” is also representative of many other businesses that are probably bidding on it as well, driving the cost-per-click quite high. What’s more, the true intent of the user who searches “accounting firm” isn’t entirely clear.

A related long-tail keyword, however, can bring in qualified traffic at lower costs. The keyword “personal accounting firms in NYC,” for example, is more specific and the user who searches it is more likely to have their needs met by your company. It’s also easy to set spend limits to keep budgets in check.

2. Paid Social

Organic social media marketing serves many vital purposes for small businesses, but it’s necessary to put advertising spend behind your efforts if you’re going to see results. Organic posts by brands reach a very small percentage of users, which means that promoting posts and running ads are the only ways to ensure brand visibility. 

Facebook and Instagram only require very low minimum spend levels, so they’re great options for small businesses. Both platforms offer highly visual ad formats and granular targeting options. Other social advertising options include sponsored Tweets on Twitter, Buyable Pins on Pinterest and LinkedIn advertising for B2B businesses. Snapchat does have advertising, but current costs are prohibitive for most SMBs.

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