Small Business Advertising Advice
Some material is very old and may be incorrect today
© December 2005 Tony Lawrence
Quite a few of the folks who read this website are small, independent computer consultants, full or part-time. Most of those readers probably have an ad at our Unix and Linux Consultants listings.
Here's the interesting thing: some tell me they do very well with that and get leads from it often, others tell me they've been there for years and have never had a nibble. That seems odd, doesn't it?
Well, maybe not. The points I'm going to bring up here might help explain that, and are just as true for any advertising: newspapers, magazines, Google Adsense, whatever.
You have to ask
People don't always bother to tell you where they found you - usually you have to ASK, and if you aren't in the habit of doing that, you aren't going to know whether any advertising campaign is useful.
With newspaper and magazine campaigns, you'll often see something like "Department M" or "include coupon code Q234GH for special discount". Those are tracking devices so that the advertiser can judge the effectiveness of the ad. With a web ad, you have some built in tracking: if you are advertising a link to your website, your weblogs will show the referrering site. You can differentiate even more: if, for example, your website is "http://xyz.com", using the link "http://xyz.com?ad-one" will work just as well, but that "ad_one" will also be in your weblogs. Doing this kind of tagging can help you judge the effectiveness of web advertising.
Yes, of course I'm happy to add any tags you like to links you may have here.
You have to sell
When I look at some of the listings here, I'm not surprised they don't work. If all you say is "Linux Consultant", do you really expect that to impress anyone and grab their attention? In this particular venue, I offer 200 characters of space, but many don't even come close to using that up. Sometimes "less is more" is true, but probably not for this. You want to stuff an ad like this with information and keywords; if you do MySQL, say so, because otherwise someone who needs that will probably pass you right by if you don't mention it.
Saving money isn't the goal
I think sometimes people forget that goal of advertising is to bring business to you. It's about making money, not saving it. Looking for the cheapest advertising isn't what you should be doing: you should be looking at the most effective advertising, whatever its cost (assuming you can afford that cost).
The same is true for newspapers, Google Adsense and anything else: other people are using those places to find customers - if your ad didn't work, you need to figure out why, not just stop doing any advertising.
Stand out from the crowd
In a crowded niche, the problem may be too much competition. For example, if someone searches for Linux consultants here, they get a very large list. You don't want to be at the bottom of that list, right? Well, in this particular case, the way to stay closer to the top is to update your listing frequently - newer listings move toward the top. In other advertising venues you might have to use tricks like changing your business name (AAA Consulting, anyone?). Or, once again, paying a little more might increase your visibility.
Coughing up more green has the same effect for other placements. The more you pay, the higher up and the more often your Adsense ads will run. More money buys you more space and better pages in a newspaper or magazine.. simple enough, right?
Let the pros help
Advertising, marketing, copywriting: there are people who easily found on the web offering such services./p>
Effective advertising can bring you new business. Making your ads effective and valuable does take some work, but the payoff can be great. Spend the time to think about how your advertising can be improved and you will improve your business.
Got something to add? Send me email.
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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:
Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal, Second Edition
iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course
Take control of Apple TV, Second Edition
El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course
Take Control of OS X Server
More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2011-03-13 Tony Lawrence