Creating brand equity for your product or business is essential to your success, but all those advertising dollars necessary to make this happen can be too costly or too risky for an emerging or small business. Television, print, and radio ads may simply be out of the question for a small business with a tight advertising budget.
The answer? Strategic ad placement on the World Wide Web. On the Web, small businesses can level the playing field, taking advantage of the brand recognition of larger companies by purchasing banner ads on their sites. Small businesses can take advantage of already-existing Internet communities by purchasing ads on the sites of companies that are already household names, such as Barnes and Noble, or through service providers and search engines like America Online or Yahoo! Leveraging the brand loyalty of larger companies can be a way to cash in on their success
Call it standing on the shoulders of giants, but it can work as a cost-effective means of advertising for a small business. Small businesses should choose the company or online community with the target audience that matches their own.
“If your product or service can be demonstrated and sold on the Internet, it may be the least expensive, most efficient way you’ll find,” says Thomas Quarton, president of Cirque Corp., supplier of over 50% of the touch-pads in computers today.
The Web is most effective in targeting the demographic of males 15 – 30, but it t also reaches 30- to 40-year-old men and women. Also, this medium has an advantage that the other three do not — interactivity.
While television, radio and print ads are basically a message in a bottle waiting to be returned, the Web provides two-way communication. A well-placed banner ad, while reaching a potentially narrowed-down demographic depending on its placement, also allows the consumer to check out your product directly and also contact you or place an order. Paul Morin, director of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, points out that small businesses need to take advantage of the unique nature of the Web to make their presence and their products known. “This means exploiting what the Web medium can accommodate — use audio, video, interactive e-mail, whatever it takes for people to buy into whatever you’re selling and come back to your company.”
Another advantage of advertising on the Web its that it allows you to collect information about your customers or prospects that the other media do not. By having a contest or giveaway on the Web that requires a registration form, a small business can collect valuable information about the potential customers who visit their site.
One thing to watch out for when making a deal with an established company or Web community: do not sign up on less than advantageous terms. Wharton’s Morin puts it this way: “They hold the cards, because there are only so many big companies on the Web, and they have a huge universe of small companies to choose from.” The value of placing ads with big companies can be great, but you need to make sure they are not asking for more than that value in return.