Nearly all small businesses advertise in some way. Digital advertising mediums are most popular, but traditional advertising such as TV, print, and radio are just as important for small businesses.
A survey conducted by The Manifest among 529 among small business owners and managers at companies in the US had some interesting findings:
Small businesses here is defined as businesses that have a limited revenue and between one and 500 employees.
Nearly all small businesses advertise (87%).
Small businesses advertise on a variety of mediums, but social media (64%) and online (49%) are the most popular.
Small businesses still advertise on traditional mediums: print (36%), TV (22%), and radio (22%).
Millennial-owned or -managed small businesses (95%) are more likely to advertise than those owned or managed by Generation Xers (92%) or baby boomers (70%).
Small businesses owned or managed by millennials tend to advertise on more mediums than older generations.
More than one-third of small businesses (34%) use event advertising.
Facebook (86%) is the most popular social media channel that small businesses use to advertise, followed by YouTube (51%), Instagram (47%), and Twitter (41%).
More than half of small businesses (53%) invest in Google search advertising.
Two-thirds of small businesses (67%) plan to begin using at least one advertising medium in 2019.
Advertising helps small businesses scale and reach potential customers.
“It’s essential for small businesses to advertise to not only maintain the level of business they have today but to grow,” said Harry Chapin, CEO and founder of Forge Worldwide, a brand-building company in Boston. “Very few businesses have the ability to attract new customers and grow revenues without advertising.”
Small businesses capitalize on the opportunity to grow their customer base and keep up with their competition through advertising.
Utility, a mobile app developer in New York City, advertises so potential customers remember the company when it comes time to hire a developer.
“Selling anything always requires multiple touchpoints,” said Utility’s Vice President of Growth Nishank Khanna. “Before your brain wants to buy a can of Coke, you have likely seen it on a billboard while driving, then an ad on TV, and read it in an article. The multiple touchpoints re-enforce a prospect’s subconscious that your brand exists and has a solution to what they want.”
Small businesses use digital advertising channels more than traditional channels.
Small businesses advertise on social media (64%) and online (49%) over traditional platforms such as print (36%) and TV (22%).
Small businesses that have limited resources use digital advertising to target customers who are the most likely to be interested in what they offer.
“Digital can be most effective because it can be so targeted, especially if you just have one location or a product for a very particular niche,” said Dan Collins, chief strategy officer at GKV, a full-service digital agency in Baltimore. “You’re not just getting everybody who’s watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or another TV show. You’re getting people who are actually interested in your product.”
Digital advertising helps small businesses reach people who are interested in their products, whereas traditional advertising reaches broader demographics.
Curate.co, a management software platform for event professionals, focuses all its advertising efforts online to reach its target audience.
For example, its Facebook advertisements only reach those in the event planning industry, such as florists, caterers, and rental companies.
We’re in a very niche market, so you have to go where the fish are,” founder Ryan O’Neil said. “Traditional mediums are unable to allow me to specify who I’m marketing to.”
Digital advertising is a budget-friendly advertising strategy that makes it easy to target the most relevant audiences.
More than half (57%) of small businesses use traditional advertising mediums such as print, TV, radio, and out-of-home (OOH).
Traditional advertising is still more familiar than online advertising, which makes people trust it more.
“Print, TV, and radio have been around so long that there is an innate trust factor for a lot of people,” said Josh Ryther, senior partner at Deksia, a marketing strategy and brand development agency in Michigan. “It takes more to produce advertising that’s TV, print, or radio – not just time but more people and more thought. On Facebook, I can click three times and run an ad with very little thought or strategy behind it.”
Although online advertising requires less effort and is more affordable, traditional advertising is still effective because it is more trustworthy.
In fact, consumers find TV, print, and radio advertising more trustworthy than online and social media.
Traditional advertising also reaches consumers when they’re not online.
“None of us really live in just one channel all the time,” Chapin said. “Consumers today toggle between their phone, computer, radio, podcasts, and TV – and they do it all on their schedule. We live in an omnichannel world.”
Traditional advertising engages consumers when they are not on the internet. It also helps reach the demographics who don’t spend as much time online.
For example, the Storyteller’s Cottage, a venue that hosts literary events for children and adults in Simsbury, Conn., uses traditional advertising to appeal to its older audience – both people who attend events and those who sign their children up for summer camps.
“We rely on advertising to explain what we offer to potential customers,” said owner Lisa Natcharian. “When we need to reach an older demographic, TV and print ads are the best method.”
Advertising on traditional channels helps the Storyteller’s Cottage reach people who may not spend much time online.
Traditional advertising is trustworthy and is helpful in appealing to an audience throughout their day.
Small businesses owned or managed by millennials (95%) and Generation Xers (92%) are more likely to advertise than those owned or managed by baby boomers (70%).
Millennials recognize that advertising helps their business appeal to potential customers quickly.
“Millennials are used to instant gratification, and advertising helps satisfy that need,” said Les Kollegian, CEO of Jacob Tyler, a brand experience agency in California. “We live in a world with constant engagement, and millennials are the forefront of that expectation. Advertising helps people find a product they’re looking for quickly.”
Millennial-owned businesses understand that advertising engages modern consumers by appealing to their need for instant gratification.
Many millennials see the importance of advertising – even with a small budget. This includes Lagerhead Cycleboats, an entertainment boat company in Florida owned by millennial Drew Johnson.
Lagerhead Cycleboats uses radio, print, and online advertising.