November 2010
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Small company's can create big impact by using smart advertising

The biggest constraint for a small business is cash. After spending a good amount on setting up a business, an entrepreneur is usually left with just enough to sustain for sometime. For these small businesses, cost of advertising can be a stretch. But if they do not advertise, they will not see too many customers. This is a dilemma every entrepreneur faces-how much to spend on advertising.

Advertising is an important part of the overall puzzle. Advertising exposes a business to the public and helps it get new customers and sales opportunities. People get to know that such a brand/product/service exists. So how does a small business with a limited budget create that visibility for itself?

“Advertising doesn’t necessarily mean spending huge amounts of money. You can be creative in your advertising and promotions and all of it can be done at a fairly low cost as well,” says brand guru Jagdeep Kapoor.

Advertising is a necessity, but to have a healthy brand, spending a huge amount on advertising is not the only option. In fact, Mr Kapoor points out that all forms of media-print, television, radio, outdoor and the Internet-have cost effective options. “Having a proper marketing strategy will help in tapping these options,” he says.

Sometimes, too much of advertising can also be a problem. “Advertising needs to be used like salt. In just the right proportion,” quips Mr Kapoor.

Advertising sometimes can also be as simple as word of mouth. But whatever medium you use, before setting out to advertise, be clear on your target segment so that your direction is correct and you do not end up wasting the effirt and money.

Even a startup which is about to launch its first product and has a small advertising budget can create a big impact in a large city like Mumbai. An easy, cost effective way could be to use bus back advertising. These buses roam the whole city and can create a huge impact for the startup. “The idea is to create visibility without compromising on the effectiveness,” he says. Similarly, using radio advertising to target specific segments, or on ground advertising in cricket matches could be a great way to get the visibility.

You need to advertise and you have to be effective and cost effective when you are using the weapon of advertising to grow your brand. You need to advertise and you have to be effective and cost effective when you are using the weapon of advertising to grow your brand. Even your visiting card can spread the word about your brand.

Just some creative thinking is required to turn it into an ad. You can even make your car or SUV a moving billboard. Sacrifice the brand new shine on your vehicle and paint the name of your company on it, put a sticker on the back or even use the wheel caps for a small ad.

Today, one of the most cost-effective advertising mediums for small companies and big alike is the Internet. Here, a small firm can reach very specific customers. “Small companies can’t afford to let their marketing get wasted. Online advertising can help them track where they are spending,” says Aliza Knox , head of online sales and operations for Google Asia Pacific.

Through Google Adwords, a small company can track customers closely. They can know who have come and bought. They can even know about people who have just checkout their products online but haven’t purchased.

The Internet offers much broader reach at an affordable cost helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses quickly. Here, return on investment is more important and with Google, one can even start with as little as Rs 100 a day with of advertising . The idea is to let the entrepreneur see if he is getting the value he seeks. “Firms can experiment with different searches, keywords, geographies and budgets,” says Ms Knox.

The first basic step for companies is to get online and create a website. Ensure that it is a clean site, which is quick, and it throws up on searches on various search sites. In the online world, 33-50 % of business can come from search engine traffic. One should look at all listing options online, including the Google directory.

Social media too is emerging as a effective advertising option. Companies can be on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and even YouTube to reach out. A taxi driver in a small city in India used the power of social media to the hilt. He created an interesting, funny and very relevant YouTube video and uploaded it. His business has been roaring since.

Google has doubled its SME advertisers in the Indian market. Business of all kinds, from exporters, manufacturers to florists and other service providers have been using Google Adwords to effectively market their products. “On the Internet you can have very innovative content for your advertising and reach a very targeted audience, reducing wastage,” says Mr Kapoor.

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