Is advertising your small business on line really worth it?

In my experience this is yet another question where it all depends on who you ask, and the source of the advertising. For new small businesses, there is usually a limited budget for things like SEO and promotional advertising, but there has to be some level of advertising to bring in clients. So with that in mind, our next focus becomes looking into the various options available on line for advertising including: Google Ad-Words, Yahoo Local, Yellowpages.com, Whitepages.com, Superpages, Citysearch, Foursquare, Manta, Yelp and the list goes on.

Then the next question becomes, how do you know which one will be the best for your small business, and which one will give you the biggest bang for the buck. Companies like Manta are trying successfully to promote small businesses, by providing quality advertising and higher rankings on their index, and still keeping things affordable for small business. Other solutions like YP.com are much more well known and popular, but the cost can be prohibitive for many new small companies. However the ROI and your budget are the two things to focus on most, so if you have the money to invest in a higher profile advertising company like YP.com, that is where your focus should be. If your budget is strapped; looking into companies like Manta are a good affordable option, but expect the results to be less than that of the bigger companies. Do some Google searching on companies like yours and see which company listings come up at the top of the index more frequently, and do that for about a week and keep some data in a spreadsheet to help with choosing the right solution. With a little creative investigation, you will know where to start!

Consider Google Ad-Sense for example: This is a way to generate revenue from having affiliate advertisements on your content based website, which could help with funding advertising campaigns for your own website. Systems like this rely on your SEO being up to par for example, as well as there needs to be a good quality and quantity of content on your website; otherwise Google will not send you relevant affiliate advertisements, reducing click through rates. So if the nature of your website is more about showcasing products and on line sales, rather than being content and informational based, then Google Ad-Sense might not be the best solution for your small business, until you have some content they can index well.

Then Google Ad-Words for example is Google’s pay per click advertising campaign, which can work quite well, but relies on a lot of lost investment money up front, because it takes time to perfect the content for relevance, and SEO performance. This takes some practice and a lot of time to invest in trial and error of relevant high performing content. Like anything that relies on SEO, having new content added over time helps with the ability to attract more clicks and more business. You are always in competition with other companies not only on the SEO index, but on how much you pay for your campaigns. The companies with the most money to spend on campaigns, will remain at the top of the heap longer, than a small business, so finding that just right balance can be a chore to say the least, and there are never any guarantees of success with these paid solutions.

The one thing you can always rely on for advertising is printed materials that you put in the hands of potential clients, which can have a reference to your on line business website. If your website is your business, then this will be an even more important area to focus on. If your website is just a source of information about your business, then the printed materials will allow people to get more information about your business, without having to commit to a formal meeting.

This is where the quality of your website becomes the most important thing for your business. Whether your customers get to your website from an on line ad, or from printed materials, or some other form of local advertising, the quality of your website will be what earns your customers trust. If your website looks like it was created by an Amateur, or just does not look professional, then people decide in the first few seconds whether or not to move on. People automatically associate the quality of your business, with the quality of your website. It’s sort of like being a good Dentist, with a messy or uncleanly waiting room. Chances are, many new customers would walk out of an office like that, and your website design produces as similar result. Image is important with any advertising medium, and that goes for your website as well.

So my advice is to do a little research to fine the best possible solution for your advertising, but first make sure the website people are brought too, is a good representation of your business, but a solution that is still affordable for your small business budget. We are here to help you with your business image, by providing you with affordable graphic art and web design solutions!

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