Choosing a method of advertising can be hard for small businesses. These 3 steps help small business owners narrow down their options to choose the right advertising medium for them.

Step 1. Identify your target audience.

What type of audience are you trying to reach? Some factors to consider are…

    1. Age

    2. Gender

    3. Business owner or non-business owner

    4. Special Interests

    5. Area of residence / location

Depending on your target audience, you will want to focus your money on a certain type of advertising.

Step 2. Set your budget

How much are you willing to spend? To take a quote from “- The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin — after all expenses — is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.”

You can also think about this – how much money are you willing to spend per new client acquired? The answer that you provide will change the type of advertising you may ultimately choose.

Step 3. Check out your options for advertising

  • Promotional products – Custom printed items with your company’s information printed on them!

    We at recommend promotional products for any small business that is concerned about cost, wants to have their brand stay in the minds of their customers for a long time, and wants their advertising to actually help their customers at the same time. With that in mind, what type of small business wouldn’t want to use promotional products to advertise their small business?

    Promotional products are great for a number of reasons – we will list a few here!

    1. Cost effective – Compared to TV, newspaper, and magazine advertising, promotional products are much cheaper. But don’t let that make you think that you will be getting a less-quality form of advertising. People LOVE receiving high-end products with custom logos on them, especially ones that they will use. With that being said, there are promotional items that fit any business’s budget.

      1. Running a small scale operation? You can find products from $0.10 to $0.50 a peice! Have a little more money to burn and really want to impress potential clients? You will only have to spend $5-10 per piece on items such as custom thermoses, power banks, and other tech products, to truly make a favorable impression. In stores, people will be spending 3-4x the cost just to get the same product.
    2. Long exposure time of your brand – The average promotional product stays in the home of a client for over 6 months! Think about that! A television commercial will only stay in your mind for a couple minutes – at best. Even if people are not actively searching out your business, having your custom promotional products in people’s homes has been proven to increase brand recognition.

      1. Additionally, there is a power of compounding effect built into promotional items. People will see their friends with a custom printed bottle opener – they ask – Where did you get these? “I got them from X company” – “Oh wow, I should get some for my company”.. And so on…
    3. Promotional products provide a utility. People will actually use a majority of the promotional products that they receive – such as bottle openers, pens, rulers, magnets, bag clips, sunglasses, power banks, cups, bags, and more. The more people use your promotional products, the more brand exposure you get! It really is a compounding effect.


Newspaper Advertising

Often good for targeting a particular audience based on location, newspapers offer a good way for businesses to advertise to a large number of people. Price of the advertisements will change depending on the newspaper company, the size of the advertisement you want, and the location in the newspaper.

According to The New York Times’ media kit, full-page ads in the nationwide edition run for about $150,000 before the added cost for color.” Compare this to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, in Montana – a paper with much less circulation – the price of a full page ad usually runs around $2772 – much less expensive, but you will reach less people. If your company is based out of Bozeman and deals locally – this price might be well worth it!


  • Magazine Advertising

Magazine advertising can be a good form of advertising if you are going after a highly targeted demographic group. If your product or service falls within the category of a special interest group, you can advertise within a magazine dedicated to that special interest!

Consider both print and online forms of the magazine. Magazines often also have different print publications depending on the location that the magazine will be distributed.

This is an opportunity for businesses who target a special interest in a certain location to put out high quality advertising.

  • Direct Mail marketing

Direct Mail is one of the “tried and true” methods of advertising that can really benefit a small business. We feel that direct mail can be a good go-to strategy for local businesses who are trying to get high traffic to their business location.

I have seen it work well with new restaurants in my local area – they often send out a beautifully decorated mail flyer with high-resolution pictures of food and drinks, and have discount codes and cut-away coupons on the mailer itself.

These work well because I won’t have to drive more than 10 minutes away to enjoy this deal. These sorts of mailers may not work so well if you have a very broad audience spread over a large geographic area.

  • Advertising on Yellow Pages

Yellow pages, while becoming more obsolete, are still used by a fair amount of people (mostly senior citizens) when searching for local businesses. Some of the most common types of businesses advertised on yellow pages are – Plumbers, Locksmiths, Dentists, Doctors, Veterinarians, Attorneys, Auto Repair, Auto Insurance, and Restaurants. If your small business fits one of these categories, you may find some good opportunities to advertise.

  • Business Card advertising

Whenever you can someone your business card, you are accomplishing two tasks in one. You are forming a human connection with that person – which helps to grow trust in the business relationship, and, at the same time, you are marketing your brand to that person.

Business cards are great because they are small, and multiple cards can fit easily inside one’s pocket. If your business card is informative and tells the person who sees it “I solve a problem that you are having”, the business card may be a good low-cost advertising tool.

  • TV marketing

One of the staples of advertising is television – yet not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Super Bowl ad! Television is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive forms of advertising available, because the the amount of people you reach is so high. Obviously, advertising during prime time television will be more expensive that advertising during the late hours of the morning when it seems like there are only infomercials on.

Small businesses may want to look into television advertising if they want to reach a local audience, as the prices for short features on local / public television stations will be much less expensive than trying to get your brand in front of America as a whole with prime-time television. You could even try to appear on a small channel talk-show that promotes local businesses. All in all, if your budget allows for a more expensive endeavor, television advertising might be a good call for your small business.

  • Social Media Platform Advertising

Social Media is known for its reach and its ability to have your content go viral under the right circumstances. Facebook is the “titan” of social media with over 2 billion active monthly users, and while others like Instagram are further behind with 800 million monthly users, there is sure to a platform that is the right mode of advertising for your small business.

According to entepreneur.comthere are four (4) qualities that a business should have if it is looking to advertise on Facebook.

  1. Your products are unique – people want to be inspired and find something that they have never seen before on Facebook.
  2. You sell to consumers – Facebook was originally designed to be a social network for college students to share comments, photos, and other events in their lives. Facebook today retains this design, and you will find more success if your advertising efforts on Facebook target consumers – not business to business advertising.
  3. You want to sell fun products – people come on facebook to socialize = – and they want to be entertained. Even if your product is not stereotypically “entertaining,” if you are able to portray your product in a fun way, you may have success advertising your small business’s products on facebook.
  4. Your business “harmonizes” with a social political, social, or cultural belief. Some of the biggest social movements have their roots on Facebook nowadays. If your business is able to provide a product that relates to any of these movements, you could find a benefit to advertising on facebook.

Instagram advertising is slightly different because the app is dedicated to photos. You can advertise your small business for free if you have high-quality photos posted with the right combination of hashtags. If you own a makeup business, posting high quality photos with hashtags that are specific to people who enjoy make-up, you will be able to market your company for free!