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Online Advertising for Small Screen Printing Businesses

November 8, 2013

Online advertising can be an extremely powerful tool you can use to increase your business’ visibility and, ultimately, grow your customer base. Most small screen printers have had some experience with advertising, be it by phone book, billboard, student planner or traditional mailers.

Though the traditional forms of advertising can be effective for some businesses, the downside for small screen printers can be brutal. The associated contracts almost always are yearlong, the high costs continue to rise and there is no flexibility in changing your ad after it has been submitted for printing.

However, online advertising offers many unique options that traditional advertising does not. Let’s examine some of the biggest benefits of online advertising, and also consider a couple of different available options for small screen printing businesses.

Benefits for Small Businesses Budgeting: This is a key aspect to any successful business and it is especially important for small businesses. When it comes to online advertising, budgeting is comprised of options that will please everyone. Many sources, such as Google AdWords, allow you to set a custom daily or monthly budget, which means you can spend as much or as little as you want. Also, the budget can easily be changed, so tweaking it can be done instantly.

Analytics: Almost without exception, any online advertising option allows you to track you to track your advertisement’s success through analytics. Tools like Google Analytics, which can be attached to your website, can help with tracking. In cyberspace, it is relatively easy to see how many people view or click your ads, as well as the state and city in which they live. This info is crucial for a small business and can help determine the effectiveness of different ads.

Adaptability: With online advertising, you can usually tweak and adjust your ads anytime you want. Online ads are frequently composed only of text or simple JPG images, so if you decide one morning that you’d like to reword your ad, you have that capability. Also, you can perform split testing, which allows you to simultaneously run two different ads to see which one draws more traffic. By reviewing the analytics, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and save money by using ads that are proven winners.

Get Your Feet Wet
Here are some basic recommendations — all of which work especially well for the screen printing market — that  for small business owners who want to get involved in online advertising can use.

Search Ads (Pay-Per-Click): Search ads are mainly text ads that display on the tops and sides of search engine results pages (SERPs), i.e. Google. The advertiser selects the particular keywords e.g. “custom T-shirts” to be used in their ads, as well as the exact location (i.e., only in Maryland or only in Austin, Texas).

Search ads do not contain cheesy promotional images, but rather simple text and links to match organic listings. This makes them appear more trustworthy and increases their effectiveness. Search ads can be extremely powerful advertising tools for small businesses due to their keyword and location focus, as well as their budget adaptability.

Display Ads: These types of advertisements are the billboards of the Internet. They rely heavily on graphics and images (which is great for screen printers), and are often sold per impression — the number of times they are seen — rather than pay-per-click. Though display ads do not offer as much adaptability (it’s a little harder to change a display ad vs. a search ad), they are extremely useful for driving traffic to your website and should not be ignored. You can also find some really great deals, especially in local markets.

Free Options
The following two advertising options are great because they don’t cost money. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff?

Content Management: As the name implies, this kind of marketing is based on content. You, the business owner, develop and publish content that will interest your potential customer. In this way, you become an authority and your articles drive tons of traffic to your website. But remember, content marketing is an indirect approach. Publish content on multiple different topics, not just those pertaining to your business. You never know how many new customers will find you because of your weekly playlist.

Local Listings: These listings appear on sites such as Yelp, Google Places and Yahoo! Local. The odds are good that you already have a listing on these sites, but it needs to be claimed. Claiming your listings on these sites, and then keeping them relevant and up to date, can help drive more customers to you. As always, don’t forget to employ relevant keywords in your business description.

There are many more tips and tricks to learn in regards to online advertising, but many of these will be best discovered by jumping into the process. With easily adjustable budgets and the unrivaled ability to track results, the only real decision to make is which type of advertising you will try first.

Jackson Kulick is the director of marketing at Blue Ridge Graphics, 34-year-old, family-owned-and-operated screed printing business that also creates and prints custom contrast-pocket shirts. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jackson at