I have 3 radio shows that play across Canada with over 14 million listeners and my broadcasting partners sell ad space on my shows.  Recently, with the economic changes I have seen many sponsors leave their advertising campaigns, recoiling and reining in expenditures, to hunker down for an economic pullback.  This is surprising to me every time it happens – and I have witnessed it many times in different markets.  Everyone has lots of bravado and motivation when the going is easy, but when it gets harder, they cave, fold, and complain about “hard times.”  So, let’s look at how to increase your business presence, expand your brand and grow in a market that some say is on the cusp of a recession.  What should you do?  Should you not advertise at all to save money – or should you advertise now because no one else is, and it could be easier to stand out and get noticed?  What should you choose – traditional advertising (print, radio, TV) or virtual advertising (social media, SEO/search engine optimization, or PPC/pay-per-click advertising)?  As a small business owner, it’s hard to monetarily quantify the value in advertising; although we all agree that it must be done if you want to acquire new customers.

Print advertising means that you want an ad in a printed hard copy publication such as a newspaper, magazine, or journal, likely to be read by a targeted audience.  Most experts agree that on average you will receive a 120% return on your investment, proving that print advertising can be a very effective way for a small business owner to expand their brand.  Print marketing makes information easier for readers to retain information and connect with the ad especially if it is in a known, reliable publication that already has the reader’s trust and brand recognition.  Print always holds a reader’s attention, increasing the likelihood that they view your ad and retain your message.  According to a study done by Polaris, (2021) 76% of Canadians trust print ads more than digital pop-up ads.

What about social media, SEO, GOOGLE ads, or PPC?  Some social media platforms are totally free, such as Facebook, IG (Instagram), Twitter, TikTok or YouTube.  This is a great way for you to connect with your potential customers however it is something that you really must keep current with consistent and relevant content.  You will need new information uploaded to the platforms weekly to keep your followers engaged.  Does it produce more business – that is difficult to quantify.   It certainly can give you brand recognition with your base customers.  To give you an example, I have been doing IG and Facebook for years and have recently just started YouTube.  I can tell you it is quite challenging to really put yourself out there and having done so, I personally feel that these are great “free” platforms to get your message out and connect with your audience or customers on a more personal level.  YouTube, IG and Facebook will increase your brand presence and provide validation to your existing customers – but does it actually create money in the bank and drive sales up? – I’m not so sure.

Because of this, many small business owners go a step further and spend thousands of dollars on SEO or PPC to increase their likelihood of being found first when you do an internet search for a product or service.  Marketing companies charge exorbitant fees for their services to combine PPC and SEO and claim that by doing so, you will be guaranteed to increase your presence in multiple search engine platforms.  Increasing your website ranking on the internet today is not easy.  It takes a long time to do it and will require consistent strategies to meet the ever-changing internet algorithm requirements.  You will also be required to do constant postings of marketing content (usually in the form of blogs) with specific keywords for your industry.  Costs for SEO/PPC range from $1,000 to $15,000 per month on average.

To be honest, having done all the above over the years, I personally think the best way to increase your business is to get back to the basics.  You need to be strategically targeted with your money and spend only on specific advertising that you feel will generate a profit.  You also need to get out of your comfort zone and get “boots-on-the-ground” in your community.  Sponsor local events, put ads in your local newspaper, start cold-calling, hand out flyers, engage with your targeted customers, host an open-house networking event, or phone up all your base clients and have a chat (but don’t forget to ask for a referral before you hang up).  Really – you need to get out from behind your desk and as we used to say in our sales meetings years ago: “start beating the bushes.”

You probably already know what you need to do to increase sales and expand your brand so, why not make 2023 your best year ever!


Good Luck & Best Wishes,

ATML - Christine Ibbotson