New to Digital Advertising? Our Three-Step Guide to Getting Started

02.07.2023 Sara Brasfield5 min

Building a business from the ground up is difficult. If you’re a small, local business, the challenges are even more daunting. There’s a reason 45 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years: between the costs of starting a business and the uphill battle of growing your brand and your sales, most mom-and-pop shops have limited time to start turning a profit and take off before their business runs out of runway.

Whether you’re a brand-new business or a small operation eager to grow, advertising is a powerful tool to increase local brand awareness, connect with prospective customers, and build a strong pipeline of conversions and sales. New to advertising? A small business marketing consultant can help you plan, launch and optimize digital campaigns that help your business reach its loftiest goals.

Read on for our recommendations as you approach your first localized advertising campaign, and check out recent trends among local advertisers like you in our recent webinar.

1. Treat Advertising as an Investment—Not an Expense

Small businesses are typically lean operations. With limited resources, discretionary spending is often out of the question.

Unfortunately, too many business owners and leaders view advertising as an optional expense. In reality, advertising should be a key area of investment for your business: since a well-designed ad campaign can generate more revenue dollars than the cost of advertising, businesses can improve their current cash flow situation—and increase the potential for greater revenue in the future—by prioritizing their investment into digital advertising.

When businesses forego paid advertising, they throw away a cost-effective opportunity to grow their revenues and become more profitable.

2. Define Your Goals as a Local Advertiser

Successful ad campaigns are designed to meet specific business goals. Your goals as a local advertiser will affect every aspect of these campaigns, from the type of advertising channels you use, to the audiences you target, to the messaging featured in those ads.

Most paid advertising for small businesses is designed to serve at least one of the following goals:

  • Awareness: This is a common goal for small businesses eager to build brand recognition. For new businesses in particular, awareness-level campaigns can help inform local consumers about your business and your services, setting them up to become a customer in the future.
  • Engagement: With this type of campaign goal, ad success is measured by your ability to get consumers to click on an ad or engage with your business in some way. Website visits, phone calls, and social follows and interactions are all examples of engagement that might be targeted through a campaign.
  • Conversion: A conversion is a purchase or other action that directly delivers your business a new customer and/or revenue. This type of goal is primarily focused on growing your business revenue and profits in the short-term.

Depending on your ad campaign, you may pursue more than one category of these goals. In most cases, ad campaign goals will be primarily aligned with one specific type of goal—awareness, for example—even if your business is hopeful that the campaign can also achieve some level of engagement and/or conversion.

3. Getting Started Checklist: Your First Steps Toward Advertising Success

  • Identify your top goals for investing in advertising. You can always change or refine these goals as you create an advertising strategy, but it helps to understand what you’re hoping to get out of your advertising.
  • Decide how much you can spend on advertising. Again, this number is subject to change as you start the process of planning campaigns. Even so, setting aside an ad budget is an important step in prioritizing this aspect of your business.
  • Define your target audience. Who do you want to reach with your advertising? This may include existing customers, a new consumer group you want to engage, or a combination of audiences. It may be helpful to develop customer personas that will help you characterize the type of audience you want to reach. (If you’re struggling with how to do this, a digital advertising partner can help).
  • Articulate the value of your business to your audience. Are you helping them solve problems, or giving them an opportunity to indulge in luxury? Are you helping them save money, or offering quality services they won’t find anywhere else? This value proposition will be at the core of your ad messaging.
  • Approach advertising with an open mind. Don’t assume that certain ad channels, such as digital video, are too costly for your business to afford. At the same time, don’t expect that your first campaign will be a home run. Remind yourself that you’re playing a long game, and that the best performance results don’t happen overnight.
  • Accelerate your ROI by working with a digital advertising partner. Digital advertising is a complicated field, and the process of trial-and-error can be costly for your business. A digital advertising partner accelerates your success by bringing their depth of expertise to your new advertising efforts. Connect with a partner that will help you avoid silly mistakes, implement best practices, optimize for success, and grow your business faster than you could ever achieve on your own.

Ready to get started with a digital advertising partner? At Cox Media, our blend of in-house expertise and innovative ad technologies have helped countless local businesses create successful ad campaigns that helped those companies grow. Find out how we can do the same for your business—contact us today.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than eight years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

Connect with a Marketing Expert

Share Post On Social

Connect With Your Local Marketing Expert

You know your business. We know advertising. Together, we can bring your business to more people. Contact a member of our team today. We’d love to help you grow.