We’ve noticed a recurring theme as we speak to local advertisers – they’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Most businesses using local advertising aren’t full-time marketers.  They’re small business owners, administrators, managers, and wear any of a hundred other hats – likely a combination of many – and keeping up with new marketing and advertising possibilities probably isn’t going to make this week’s to-do list.  There’s SO MUCH daily innovation – it’s difficult for those of us who are full-time marketers to keep up.  What this usually means for local advertisers is that – whatever level of understanding was achieved when they first started advertising has become permanent.  They made sense of the resources at hand and moved on to the next item on their list.  That might’ve been five years ago.  Sometimes ten.  Even twenty.  For the majority of advertisers we talk to, five years seems to be about right.  So, what’s popped up in the past five years that you REALLY need to know about.

Websites are part of daily business.

If your website is still just a place to have general information, you’re missing out.  Chances are that your potential customers are checking you out online before doing business with you.  You control your website, right?  Why not start the sales process with them while they’re on your site?  Don’t be pushy, but make it as easy as possible for your potential customer to become an actual customer.  Build a path of least resistance.  Think about the different stages of your buyers’ journey.  What are they looking for when they first arrive?  And then?  And thennnn?  Make the decisions easy for them by presenting them with what they need – when they need it – and cut down on all of the other unneeded distractions.

You can run ads anywhere.

You CAN run ads on millions of websites, in apps, on social media, and just about everywhere else that allows ads.  It’s not just for the big boys, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it well.

You don’t have to rent content.

When you run a paid ad somewhere, you’re renting space on someone else’s content.  You don’t have to do that anymore.  Content marketing has become very popular and focuses on developing content (blogs, free guides, eBooks, videos, etc.) about the stuff that your potential customers are already looking for.  You have to resist the urge to be “salesy” with your content.  The point is to develop a relationship with your potential customers by being genuinely helpful.  If you do it well, you build an audience of prospects who are there to listen to YOU, which is a lot more powerful that interrupting the TV show, music or article that they were enjoying to show them a paid ad.  See the difference?  Content marketing is a big commitment, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s an option that you definitely need to be aware of.

Targeting isn’t just an option – it’s a must.

With so many options, waste becomes a bigger issue.  Back in “the day,” it was widely accepted that your ads were going to waste a lot of impressions on people who didn’t fit your target demographic, but that’s not the case anymore.  There’s probably a way to target your prospects with minimal waste, so seek out options before accepting waste.  You can target by geographic location, age, income, household size, education, job-type, keywords, specific lists of contacts, recent visits to your website, visits to specific pages on your website, and the list goes on.  Define your target.  No, “everyone” isn’t an option.

These are just a few of the millions of things that you may not have known about if you haven’t been watching closely for the past few years.  These are game-changers for local advertising – methods that can help your overall marketing become much more efficient.  You need to either commit to exploring what’s a good fit for your business now – or partner with a marketing firm.  Finding an agency that will truly act as your partner by getting to know your business and your customers is the quickest way to get your marketing ship turned around and headed in the right direction.

I know what you’re thinking – “I can’t afford to hire an agency,” but that world has evolved too.  As methods have become more efficient – agencies have become more accountable – and many have begun to offer cost-structures that are dependent on the results they generate.  It’s worth speaking with the firms in your area to see if you can find a good fit.  An effective agency’s work will pay for itself several times over.

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