The best three places to start advertising

I get this question a lot and replied to an existing client with the same message. Here are three of the best places to start advertising if you are a small business with a limited budget. Note, every business has a limited advertising budget, some just have a bigger budget. Considering the message being sent and the target audience small businesses are going after these are my recommendations in order of importance:

  1. Google AdWords  – works the best because you have the widest number of options and it scales. You can spend $100 a month or $1 Million. Google has the traffic and advertisers can drive relevant users to your web sites.
  2. Social Media  – works great for small business, you can share information, ideas, videos, sample music, announce important dates, and generally keep in touch with the fan base. Facebook can promote to specific audiences and is the most efficient way to build a customer list. Twitter is best for real-time event based information.
  3. Email – is still a useful tool once you have an established list of names. Email works best for nurturing fans and sending direct messages, offers, specials on a regular basis.

Avoid print ads, newspaper, out of home, TV – those work for big brands will multimillion dollar budges.

How to promote yourself in three easy steps

Problem = You want to promote an upcoming event
Budget = FREE to $1,000
Solution = Facebook Events, Targeted Ads and Scheduled Posts. Use social media, paid posts and advanced targeting options to get your message out.

Below is a quick outline of what I would recommend to a client. The bulk of the budget is used to get the messages out and drive new visitors to the event page to learn more, sign up, share with friends and ideally purchase tickets to the event directly.

1- Facebook Events
The first thing would be to promote the event on Facebook as an upcoming event. Creating an event is FREE on Facebook. Start by looking In the left navigation bar, there is a link for “Events” and click the “+ Create Event” button in the upper right.

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 11.18.46 PM Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 11.18.16 PM

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 10.31.21 PMPost all of the in depth details of the upcoming event. Name, Details, Location, Date and Time. For maximum exposure set the Privacy option to “Public”. If possible include a link to purchase tickets. Driving users on Facebook to another Facebook page works best because the user is still on Facebook. Forcing a user to leave the site can directly effect click through rates and ultimately lower the total campaign results. It also helps to give users a reason to “share” the event like a special discounted ticket price for Facebook users, a discount at the door or best a special coupon code to use when purchasing tickets online.

2 – Targeted Ads
Promote your event with an Ad. You can promote the event to as large an audience as you want. How large depends on your budget. The advanced targeted options only show the event ads to users who are in the immediate geographical area and like a similar category. For example: Only people who live in San Francisco who also like Music.

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 5.15.07 PMIt’s best to create a series of ads based on slightly different targets. You can also include variations of the ad copy to increase the chances a user will be interested enough to click.

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 5.11.24 PM3 – Scheduled Posts
Draft a series of pre-event Facebook posts with a increasing sense of urgency. You can write all of posts ahead of time and then scheduled to go out on Facebook and Twitter in the appropriate order with free tools like buffer or tumblr. The time is spent planning everything out and getting the messages correct.

Pre Event Posts:

  1. Introducing the event
  2. Announcing the upcoming event
  3. Promoting a special offer
  4. Reminder of upcoming event (1 week before)
  5. Hurry space is limited (3 days before)
  6. Event is tomorrow (1 day before)
  7. Event is today
  8. Event is in 4 hours
  9. Hurry event is in 1 hour
  10. Event is starting!

Post Event posts:
It’s important to continue the conversation even after the event is over. Some times sharing pictures is enough. Always ask a question in the follow-up posts to encourage a reply. “What was your favorite food at the snack bar?”

  1. Thanks for attending
  2. Share you experience
  3. Share you pictures
  4. Promote CDs / Download
  5. Special Offer on CDs / Special Download Package

Along with the initial event page that was created in step 1, you can also promote any or all of the scheduled posts using the same advanced targeting options mentioned in step 2.

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 10.56.10 PMWhat’s great is the budget for a posts does not need to be a lot. I have found that even $100 – $500 budget for a “sponsored post” amplifies the reach significantly. Of course, this is core to the Facebook business model and how they make money.