James Caan on advertising your business

James Caan gives his tips on advertising your business to get noticed.

As a start up, you may have the best product or service available in the market but until people are aware of your business, you don’t have a business. Advertising your business plays a key role in raising awareness and securing new and repeat customers. In this article I talk through some of the ways you can advertise your start up to new and existing customers.

Choose your method of advertising

When it comes to advertising one size won’t fit all. The way you choose to advertise your business will depend upon your market, customers and product or service. Advertising should be specific and targeted. Do your research. Focus on the message that you are trying to portray. Think about imagery. Do you want a face behind your business or do you want to focus on the product? Your advertising should bring together the collective message of your brand.

Start ups have the benefit of being free from the constraints that large and established businesses face when it comes to advertising. Have some fun with how you choose to advertise your business and capture your target customers’ attention. Think creatively. Once you have thought about your advertising and the message that you want to promote it is time to consider where you are going to be placing this message.

Using technology to advertise

It is vital for businesses to embrace technology from the outset when it comes to advertising. There are some exceptional pieces of technology out there through which you can drum up publicity for your business.

With social media services such as Twitter and Facebook being used by billions across the world, your business should have a presence on such sites. A well thought out status update/tweet can attract vast attention from the general public yet involves absolutely no cost. There are so many options online to advertise for free, cash-strapped start-ups would be foolish not to take advantage of these.

Unibubble, a Start Up Loans Company recipient did just this after two of Unibubble’s founders applied for finance. Unibubble is a website set up by a group of students from the University of Warwick which allows students to connect with fellow students, sell belongings and interact with their student life; making campus life more accessible.

To put Unibubble in the spotlight, the guys behind the company decided to capitalise on the viral trend of the infamous “Harlem Shake.” They created an event via Facebook; within 4 days, 1,000 people had clicked ‘attending.’ The duo created posters for participants to ensure the brand was captured on film. Over 1,500 people turned up. The event was posted on YouTube and has since been viewed by 80,000 people. The Unibubble site saw a 776% increase in traffic per day due to the event as well as 297% increase in registered users per day. The phenomenal results of this free advert really do highlight how creatively and cheaply start-ups can advertise.

Mobile apps can also be a fantastic way to communicate and advertise what you do as a business. I decided to create a business app and the volume of business that has been generated off the back of this app is fantastic.

Paid advertising

Advertising through media publications such as local papers/websites, social media sites, industry focused publications and through online search engines such as Google can be an effective way to reach your target market. Just remember that these outlets can be expensive, so do your research first. Which publications are your customers likely to read? What keywords will they respond to?

Advertising at trade shows is a great way to get your business off of the ground. You may also decide to advertise within local businesses. I am a firm believer that networking is one of the most important things to do as an entrepreneur and that it should be the fabric of your business. It is vital as a start up that you go out and network at every opportunity. This will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to promote and advertise your business.

If you have the budget and feel lost when it comes to advertising, you could enlist the help of advertising agencies to devise and implement an advertising campaign. If you decide on this route, do your homework; shop around to find the best deal. Make sure the agency completely understands your company, the direction you want to take it in and the results you expect from their service. If you advertise with posters and billboards, make sure your message will be seen and read. Is there a high dwell time? Add more copy. Will customers only see your ad for a few seconds? Then keep it brief and to the point.

Track the results of your advertising

It is really important to track the results and effectiveness of your advertising to avoid wasting money. If your company has a website, you can measure the success of your advertising campaign by finding out the number of visitors you’ve had ‘click through’ to your webpage. I would suggest you keep an up-to-date spread-sheet of your advertising costs and regularly compare figures to the inbound enquires you have received through your campaign.

James Caan, Former Chairman of Start Up Loans

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