Small Businesses: Advertising Tips

Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” His works are especially pertinent to us trying to grow a business. He was a master marketer throughout the 19th century and always made the most of the opportunity. We could gain a lot of advertising tips from this man.

A lot has changed in the 100-plus years since Twain’s death, but his words remain true. Advertising is a powerful tool for any small business. Thanks to the democratization provided by the Internet, a successful advertising campaign doesn’t need a huge budget and vast resources. Instead, all that’s needed is a good idea and decent implementation.

To help grow your small business through advertising, here are some tips to get you started:

Ask the Right Questions

Courtesy of Giphy
Courtesy of Giphy

If we were all blessed with deep pockets and unlimited resources, advertising would be easy. Just go full-blast with ads, and there will be at least a modest return on investment.

Sadly, most of us don’t have all those resources. We need to be smart and savvy with our advertising. That doesn’t necessarily mean being cheap, as sometimes spending little money brings in nothing. Instead, get things started on the right path by asking the right questions.

The questions you need to ask yourself are broad but important. For example, what is your target market and what do your potential customers look like? Furthermore, what sets your business apart? Why should customers come to you?

Think of these questions as a thought experiment. The answers will undoubtedly help you as you decide how to advertise.

Pick Your Platform

Small businesses have a wealth of options when it comes to advertising. There are old-fashioned mailers and newspaper advertisements, which still serve a purpose — particularly to brick and mortar local businesses.

Beyond that, you need to decide whether Google, Facebook, Twitter or a combination of those and other platforms are best for you. There are so many differing viewpoints on which platform provides the best return on investment that all you can do is test all of them out yourself.

Set a small budget for the most promising platforms and see what happens. This brings us to the next — and arguably one of the most important — tips.

Track Everything

Courtesy of Giphy
Courtesy of Giphy

Thankfully, nobody needs to be an advertising expert to see the impact that an advertising campaign makes. All the big platforms, from Facebook to Google, offer intuitive analytical tools to see how the ad campaign is resonating. You can dive deep into the nitty-gritty details, but it’s simple to get a big-picture view of progress.

Using these tools, you’ll instantly know what’s resonating and what isn’t. Using the tools can save you a lot of money and bring in exactly the type of customers you’re looking for.

If you’re running an “old-fashioned” print or television campaign to bring in customers, don’t hesitate to kindly ask your customers how they heard of you. It’s not scientific, but it helps knowing when an ad is working.

Always Test

Focus groups and endless planning might be how the mega corporations plan things, but small businesses have the freedom to be far more nimble. By using those great analytical tools, we can instantly make changes to our advertising. By tracking the performance of the changes, it’s easy to fine-tune a campaign in order to bring in more customers.

You may think you wrote the perfect ad copy, but there’s a chance that the customers don’t agree. That’s why it’s beneficial to always test ad changes. A tweak here or there can make a big difference. Maybe the change brings in more success or it falls flat. Either way, you’ll know when this happens and can react accordingly.

Send People to the Right Place

If you’re spending good money on an ad, you want to make sure people are brought to the right place. When going digital you’ll need a specific landing page that instantly backs up the ad that sent the customer there. Sending them to the homepage usually isn’t enough, as there will be too much going on for the customer to stick around. You only have a moment to get their attention, so go all-out by creating the perfect landing page to coincide with the ad.

Be Patient

Courtesy of Giphy
Courtesy of Giphy

Advertising is a tricky business.  Sometimes the right combination of words and images triggers a huge uptick in business. Other times, a seemingly identical campaign fails to generate much traction. Advertising professionals won’t always admit it, but there is a bit of luck involved.

If a campaign isn’t working, then don’t throw good money after bad by sticking with the results for too long. However, don’t make rash decisions and switch up a campaign before it has time to settle in. There’s no magic moment for knowing when to shake up an advertising campaign or cancel an ad, but there definitely is such a thing as shifting gears too early.


Don’t be stubborn, but be a little patient. Things will work out with a little testing.

Written by lexie

Lexie is a designer, writer, and coffee lover. She writes about trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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