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There are over one hundred different ways for a business in any market to advertise themselves. From the more traditional methods like newspapers and phone books to the latest digital platforms it can be hard to know what to choose.

When choosing a method of advertising as a small business, there are a few things to consider:

  • Where am I most likely to encounter my target audience?
  • What can I realistically afford to use?

The default answer isn’t always Facebook ads, by the way, even if it might be the answer to many small businesses these days.

Where is your most likely customer most likely to be found?

This is question number 1. And it sits first because it is the most important question. You could find the cheapest method of advertising and commit to it, only to find that no one is there. Which is probably why it’s so cheap.

You may assume that, with its millions of people watching entertaining, funny and interesting videos, that advertising on TikTok would be a great idea. Yet, if you’re selling sheepskin car seat covers, you’re not going to find an audience of buyers there. That’s because the audience there is mostly young (but getting older) and doesn’t have a large disposable income for something that could cost them hundreds of dollars, and they are very trend and fashion conscious. Which means that something that hasn’t been popular since the 1980s is unlikely to be popular now. And of course, the minimum cost of advertising on TikTok is $3000 a month, so you’ll need to sell a lot of covers to make that back.

Do some research first on where your most likely buyer is. If they’re over 55, they’re watching commercial broadcast TV and listening to talkback radio. Online, they are most likely to be on Facebook.

If your target is young first-time parents, they’re going to be on Instagram, Pinterest and in blogs of other young parents. Finding a network of Mum bloggers could work. Or scheduling something to young parents as an ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram might be more likely to work than advertising on a radio station.

The important thing is to know who your best potential customer is, and know where they hang out.

How much does it cost?

Advertising on TV and radio is notoriously expensive and generally out of the realm of possibly for most smaller businesses. You’ll be looking at $1000 upwards per month on them. To be fair, the cost of running a TV or radio station is also expensive, so they have big overheads.

Most smaller businesses will head towards Facebook and Google where they can control costs a bit more. You can start around the $150 a month on both of them, but you don’t really get any great impact until you reach above the $350 a month mark. The advantage to them is that you can target your audience much more precisely than you can on traditional media like TV, radio and print.

Once you’re certain of where your audience is, you can decide whether you can actually afford to reach them there.

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Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.