Ask the consultant: How can I market my business without spending a lot?

  • Updated: January 20, 2013 - 6:48 PM

Question

How do you begin to market a small business without having to spend a lot of money? What do you think of pay-per-click advertising?

TAMMY CHRIEST, OWNER, COSMIC ESSENTIALS

COSMICESSENTIALS@GMAIL.COM

Answer

You are asking a strategic question coupled with a tactical one.

It always raises a red flag for me when a client needs marketing/communication help but arrives focused on a particular strategy. In your case, the question is not whether pay-per-click advertising is a good tactic, but whether it is the right tactic to promote your offering.

Generally, any advertising channel will have significant overreach, meaning the ads are presented to lots of people who don't presently, and may never, need your product. I see ads for products on television every day that by age, gender or medical history have nothing to do with me. As an advertiser, you accept the fact that only a percentage of the audience represents the target of the communication.

Theoretically, in pay-per-click the advertiser pays only for those who click through on an online ad. This means you are paying only for those "eyeballs" that have shown an inclination for your message. (Note this still doesn't mean 100 percent of those clicking through are in your prime target.) However, you are likely to be paying a significant premium for each click -- which might be worth it.

The strategic thing you need to determine is what the dollar value of any individual hit will be for your ad -- the value of someone being directed to your website for the ad. Then you should consider the relative ease or difficulty in finding those targets. If you are having limited success with standard banner ads, working with the outlet to create a click-through campaign might be useful, even if the cost-per-click is high. The organization selling you the ads will have added incentive to get your message in front of the right people. If they fail, your biggest loss will be in time.

In either case, the better you know the characteristics of your target, the more likely you will be to find advertising channels that reach them.

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