What is advertising? How to broadcast your business in the best way

Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager at Bionic
By Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager

After you’ve set up your business, it can be easy to expect sales to flow from the offset. But, if people don’t know that your company exists, how will you attract customers?

Advertising can be hugely effective for startups and small businesses to raise awareness about their brand and make audiences aware of their product or service.

But, it covers a wide range of activities and it can be confusing knowing where to start. To help you understand how to implement an effective strategy, our handy guide will introduce you to the basics of traditional and digital advertising and how they can benefit your business.

What is advertising for business?

Advertising is the practice of marketing a business, product, or service to generate awareness amongst new audiences or increase sales. These goals aren’t exclusive to raising awareness and driving sales, it could be used to influence an audience to whatever a company wants them to do.

It works by using specific and personalised messaging that targets a segmented or general audience.

Advertising is often the first touchpoint a customer may have for a brand, so it can also help to inform an audience’s first impression of a business.

A blurred London bus drives past a bus stop with an blank advert poster on it

What are the different types of advertising?

There are two main types of advertising – traditional and digital – and these are made up of a wide range of different activities.

Traditional advertising

Traditional, or offline, advertising existed first and continues to be popular today. It involves creating a physical advertisement to reach an audience, which means that it can be a lot more difficult to measure the results of a traditional advertising campaign. These campaigns also tend to be more generic to capture a wider audience.

Some of the most popular methods of traditional advertising are:

  • Print — Print advertising is any type of promotional material that is printed into a physical product and distributed on a wide scale. Leaflets, newspaper, and magazine ads are the most common publication examples of print advertising. Print was hugely popular in previous decades but there has since been a decline given the rise of newer, digital methods.
  • Billboards — Billboards usually feature image or video campaigns that are blown up and displayed across a large canvas that is posted in high traffic areas. These tend to be in busy cities and along popular roads and the side of buildings. The sheer size of a billboard makes them easy to spot, which helps to put brands in front of a large number of people.
  • TV — TV advertising broadcasts across TV channels on a big scale. Unlike print or billboards, TV ads use videos rather than static images. This helps to form a memorable experience for a viewer and gives brands more scope to create a lasting impression. TV ads can become expensive as prices are based on the channel, time, and geographical location of where they are shown.
  • Radio — Radio is another media-based method of advertising, similarly to TV, however, it only enables brands to use the power of audio to capture audiences. Therefore, it can take a lot of skill and experience to generate a successful radio campaign.

Digital advertising

Digital or online advertising relates to marketing activities carried out online. It enables companies to push out ads across a huge range of online touchpoints, like search engines to social media platforms. These ads are often much more targeted to a specific audience, and unlike traditional advertising, they can be tracked to gain an accurate understanding of how a digital campaign is performing.

  1. Social media – Advertising on social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, is one of the most lucrative methods of marketing for businesses of all sizes. These ads reach such audiences on an incredibly large scope and can be exceedingly cost-effective to implement if run correctly. For more information on how this form of advertising can benefit your business, take a look at our Social Media Marketing guide here. [Link to upcoming Social Media Marketing guide]
  2. Internet – While social media advertising reaches those using social media platforms, internet marketing targets users on search engines, websites, and other areas online. These ads can be hugely beneficial for brands who have a clear understanding of their
  3. audience profile; internet advertisements can be highly targeted to reach precise audiences most likely to engage with your brand. To learn more, take a look at our guide to search engine marketing here. [Link to upcoming Search Engine Marketing guide]
  4. Mobile – If you know that your audience demographic engages with online content on a mobile device rather than on a desktop, running mobile advertising could be a great choice for your business. Displayed on smartphones and tablets, they can take the form of text-based ads, video ads, and in-app ads.
  5. Pop-ups – Unlike the other types of digital advertising methods which can help to raise general awareness, pop-up ads are used to target people who already have an interest in your business. Pop-ups tend to be used on a brand’s website and are shown to new users who already know of your brand. These ads are most useful for encouraging users to take a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter or using a discount code as an incentive.
  6. Email – Similarly to pop-up ads, email marketing can only be implemented once a customer already knows your brand and has actively subscribed to your email communications. Once a user signs up to this, you can effectively reach individual users directly through their inbox. Email marketing can be extremely cost-effective and rewarding for connecting with customers, but you may need experience to create engaging email campaigns that resonate with your readers.

Why is advertising important in marketing?

With such a saturated eCommerce market and plenty of brands vying for customer attention, making your business stand out from the crowd is crucial.

That’s why emotive and engaging advertising can help; it means ensuring that you’re reaching the right people with the most effective messaging to encourage them to take action.

Some key reasons why advertising should be a part of any business’s marketing strategy are:

1. Promote your product or service

The first step in any product life cycle is to promote whatever it is that you’re selling. Whether it’s an innovative product or a first-of-its-kind service, you need to spread the word about it. Advertisements introduce audiences to your offering, while also putting your brand out there.

2. Creates demand

Successful advertising doesn’t solely generate awareness, it should prove to potential customers exactly why they need your product or service. Your brand should explain how it can solve customers’ problems, which helps to generate demand.

3. Able to monitor performance

A strong marketing strategy should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. To hit the measurable goal, you must be able to monitor the performance of your

advertising campaign — otherwise, how will you know if it has worked or not? Digital methods can be tracked and can return a detailed analysis including stats and figures of how well your ads are doing.

4. Analyse the competition

If your competitors are running advertising campaigns, ultimately, to compete, you need to also be creating your own campaigns. If you don’t, it’s easy for your audience to be completely blind-sided by your competitors. While it can be an aggressive industry to navigate, advertising can benefit you by revealing who your key business rivals are.

What are the benefits of advertising?

To successfully reap the rewards of advertising, it needs to be closely aligned with your overall marketing goals. For this, it’s important to map out what targets you want to achieve so that you can put an advertising strategy in place to work towards them.

Here are some specific goals that you might want to consider for moving your brand forward:

  • Create a distinct brand for your business — Branding is the first building block for startup businesses and advertising can help to create a positive perception for your brand. Ads should channel your brand’s ethos, expertise, and product quality to give potential customers a snapshot first impression of who you are and what service you offer.
  • Generate awareness of your business — Advertising is also invaluable for small or startup businesses looking to boost awareness of their brand to a broader audience. In a company’s infancy, generating buzz around the brand should be the primary goal before encouraging people to do any other action.
  • Provide basic information about your business — When introducing your brand to your target audience, you must provide some basic information that will allow them to find your business and learn more. These are things like contact details, website address, social media handles, etc.
  • Promote a specific action — Any advertising campaign should have a clear action that they want customers to take. It could be to visit your website or store, sign up for your mailing list, engage with your brand on social media, or use a promotional code.
  • Change sentiments around your brand — Not all actions will result in a conversion. Some brands may have an established perception already – and it might not always be positive. Advertising can help to shift people’s attitudes toward your brand. For example, following negative PR or customer backlash, brands may look to use advertising as an outlet to apologise and offer an explanation for the incident. Done sincerely and correctly, this can work to boost positive sentiment around the brand.

How to write an eye-catching campaign

A great advertising campaign may sound like it will work in theory, but poor execution can mean that all your hard work and planning go to waste.

To write an eye-catching advertisement, you must appeal to your audience’s interests and show how your product can help them. It should always include:

1. A well-targeted headline

A strong headline should catch your audience’s attention and keep them interested. It’s often the first thing a reader will see, so your headline must be able to draw them in. A few tips for generating an attention-grabbing headline are:

  • Keep it concise
  • Make it easy to read
  • Address the reader directly
  • Use emotive language
  • Offer something useful
  • Outline a problem

2. Clear design

A well-thought-out design can make or break your advertising campaign. A careful, considered, and a user-friendly layout can speak more about your brand than the words you use; it can boost trust, showcase expertise, and make it clear what action you want your audience to take.

Cluttered designs can be confusing and your key message will become muddled. Whereas a more conscious approach can make your brand memorable based on a few easily identifiable visual cues.

3. Well-written copy

Copy, or your choice of words, is what sells your message to your audience. Your copy should highlight exactly what you want your audience to know in an easy to understand way.

Your copy is also an opportunity for your brand personality to shine through, showing your audience what type of company you are and why they should trust you.

How do small businesses advertise?

Larger companies will already have an established audience and can be more creative with their advertising as people already know who they are and what they sell.

For smaller businesses, advertising can be trickier. A streamlined and carefully considered strategy will help you to channel your marketing budget, and efforts, into something more likely to be successful.

Here are a few tips for small businesses to get the most out of their advertising:

1. Precise audience targeting

To spend efficiently and maximise your budget, make sure that you’re advertising to the right audience. Creating an audience profile of who your target audience is and where they reside will help you with this. Once you’ve identified this, you can refer to these findings to help inform your advertising strategy. Choose a traditional or digital method that is most relevant to your audience.

2. Measure performance

If you’re using a digital advertising method, measuring the performance of your campaigns is essential. Knowing how much you’re spending, how many clicks you’re generating on your ads, and what percentage of these clicks result in purchases, will help you glean an idea of which ads are most effective. Keeping track of what’s working and what’s not will help you to make decisions for future campaigns.

3. Careful timing

If you’re starting with a small advertising budget, it’s wise to only advertise at the right time. Push your ads during the peak season when your customers are most likely to engage — such as pushing a summer campaign for beach clothes for a fashion business — and consider pausing activity during slower months when sales might not be as high.

How to successfully advertise your business

While there are a lot of things to consider when you’re drawing up your advertising strategy, forming a logical plan is vital. From understanding which method is best for your business to knowing what you want to achieve, these should all be taken into consideration to help your campaign succeed.

To learn how Bionic can help sort your business essentials and free up time for you to concentrate on running your business, give our tech-enabled team a call today on 0800 524 4131.