Online Advertising for Small Business

As a small business owner with limited resources you may have decided to allocate some if your precious marketing budget towards advertising in the internet.  However there are so many options available from Google Adwords through to social media avenues such as Facebook and Twitter it is difficult to decide what medium will give you the best bank for your buck and deliver ultimately what we are all searching for - a high return in investment.

Step One - Consider Your  Target Market

A number for factors are going to come into play to help shape your decision.  Some of these factors include:

1) Age of your target customer

2) Geographic location if your target customer

3) Personality traits of your ideal customer.

4) Are you selling in a B2B or B2C environment

5) The urgency of the product or service that you are selling

6) The price of the product or service that you are selling

And possibly the most important two if the lot:

7) The amount of demand for your product or service

8) The amount of competition

So How Do I Determine What Characteristics My Ideal Customer Has?

The easiest way to to this is to have a look through your current clients and determine which one holds the most value to your business.  This may not be necessarily the client which brings in the highest dollar value to your business, other factors might be in play here such as the amount of work required to gain and maintain that customer.

Once you have selected this client it is time to do a more in depth evaluation of the characteristics if this customer.  It is likely that you have a good working relationship with this person or company so it is entirely possible to achieve this profile simply by asking (or over a few drinks if appropriate).  Your mission during this conversation is to find out what this person is doing in terms of where they spend the most time online.  Are they hanging out on LinkedIn networking with like minded people or are they looking for information through Google, if so what are they searching for.

One way to think of this process is to consider if you were looking to acquire this person for the first time as a customer, where would you be the most likely to find them.  Approaching it from this point of view, we can find out where to spend our advertising dollar using complete and realistic information instead of simply guessing based on our own assumptions.

The Side Benefit Of This Method

By undertaking this process you are looking to attract again your best customer.  You will be surprised to find that there will be other people or businesses out there that are strikingly similar to this customer and finding and acquiring these people are the secret to building a long term and sustainable small business.  It is human nature to want to associate with like minded people and the online world is non different.  These ideal customers that you did not even know about are likely to be hanging out in the same places and have the same problems for you to solve as your best customer.  in this way your advertising will be catered towards getting better customers based on the set of criteria you define rather than your advertising simply aiming to gain more customers if any type.

Step Two - Confirm The Information That You found From Your Profile

So you have found out a few things that you ideal customer is doing online the next step is to find out how many other similar people there are out there in cyberspace.  The most effective way to do this is to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to do this.  

This is a free tool provided by Google which will allow you to see how many people are searching for terms that you have previously identified in your profile as being valuable to you.  It is possible to break this down into specific geographical areas should this be more relevant to your target market or the span of your operation.  The numbers here can be used to confirm if ere is anyone else out there she arching for the same information.  

There are similar tools available for the social media networks which you can use to gauge their viability based on the information from your ideal customer profiling activities.

Putting It All Together

So by completing the two step process above, we know what our ideal customer is doing online and that there are others out there doing the same thing.  We can now determine the best platform to spend our advertising dollar whether it be through Google Advertising or Facebook promoted posts or some other medium.

Each medium will again have specific strategies and tactics to boost your return on investment further.  But with all the white noise out there I hope that you can use this information to narrow down where best to spend your advertising dollar in broad terms and where to focus your energies in learning to do this better.

What mediums have worked to help you boost the ROI of your small business online marketing?