small business financing

Learn the best advertising tactics and loan options to promote your company.

Are you considering borrowing money to hire an advertising or marketing agency to promote your small business? Maybe you want to increase the advertising you do on your own.

While upping your marketing efforts could be a good way to grow an existing business, it could be a risky endeavor if your marketing efforts don’t pay off and you’re unable to make the monthly payments on your loan.

This article will reveal the marketing strategies and tactics most likely to pay off for your business and the best types of small business financing to pay for promotional expenses.

Facebook advertising

According to Facebook, more than two million small to medium-sized businesses advertise on the platform. It’s an inexpensive and proven way to market to almost any audience.

Facebook makes it possible — and easy — to target almost anybody. The platform allows you to reach people in your target market based on location, interests, age, gender, online behavior, shopping habits, and more.

Developing Facebook ads is relatively easy. You need attention-getting headlines, descriptive copy that gets people to click, compelling images, and links to your website.

The Facebook Ads Manager makes it reasonably easy to run and test multiple ad sets, allowing you to identify winning advertising combinations to achieve success.

Some small business owners and entrepreneurs handle this themselves; others turn to social media marketing agencies for their expertise. In either case, it’s likely that if you borrow money to run Facebook ads, the investment will pay off.

Google My Business

Getting a prominent placement for your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most powerful things a local business can do. Companies must have their GMB listing show up in the top three for searches related to their location and what they do, for instance, “Chicago lawyer,” “Orlando plumber,” or “San Francisco therapist.” If they don’t, most searchers will visit their competitors.

Google My Business combines all your different Google platforms into a single place, including your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, Google reviews, Google Analytics and Google Insights access, and more.

A prominent GMB listing gives your business credibility and visibility. If you don’t show up to searchers in your local area, you may as well not exist.

Improving your GMB listing is not too difficult. It requires you to optimize your profile and earn positive ratings and reviews.

If you’re borrowing money to advertise your business, make sure your GMB listing is optimized so consumers can find it.

Google Ads

People search for everything on Google. It is how they research the companies they’re considering doing business with. No other advertising method has the potential to get your business in front of as many consumers.

Google Ads should be at the foundation of your online marketing. Sure, it can be expensive and competitive, but if you know what you’re doing — or partner with someone or an agency that does — it could bring many people searching for what you sell to your business website.

Content marketing

People no longer want to be “sold.” They prefer to “learn.”

That’s why an investment in great content is critical for small business success.

At its simplest, content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and drive profitable customer action.

Unlike paid promotion, content marketing is more focused on long-term results. The initial payoff is often low and slow, but over time, sustainable growth in website visitors, leads, and customers can help small businesses achieve sustainable and consistent success.

Content marketing isn’t easy. You could use your marketing loan money to hire an expert or agency. But it’s likely to pay off over time if you do.

Organic social media

Using social media for business is table stakes today.

Put simply, if people can’t find your business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin, you don’t exist. Consumers will turn to your competitors who ARE present on their preferred social channels.

Beyond this, social media keeps your business front and center for customers, making it likely they’ll do repeat business with you.

What’s important is that you identify the social platforms your consumers engage with and regularly provide meaningful information and content through them. Sure, that seems easier said than done. However, a small spend with a social media expert or agency could pay off in a big way for your company.

Coupon deals

Whether you sell a product or offer a service, think about whether it makes sense for you to leverage coupon deal sites like Groupon to promote your small business.

Many coupon sites have enormous audiences. They offer their members limited-time discounts based on location. The benefits of coupon marketing include mass exposure, local targeting, increased brand awareness, and the possibility of bringing in many new customers.

You’ll have to figure out if this advertising form suits you. Ask yourself: Can you afford to bring in new business at a discount and still pay off your marketing loan? Also, figure out the impact offering coupons could have on the consumer perception of your brand.

For some small businesses, coupon marketing is a windfall. For others, it does not make sense. However, it’s an option worth considering.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a fundamental part of digital promotion.

Most of the people who visit your website will not buy from you right away. Capturing contact info for additional marketing and lead nurturing through email is the best way to keep you in their consideration set. The same is true for current customers. A solid email marketing program will keep your business top-of-mind when it comes time to buy something you sell.

Getting email marketing right can be challenging. You’ll need to leverage a tool like Hubspot to set up email sequences and monitor results. It’s probably a smart idea to invest some of your marketing loan dollars to hire an email expert or advisor to help you set up your email marketing campaigns, show you how to monitor results, and optimize your efforts over time.

Webinars

A webinar is a seminar that happens online. It can be a presentation, demonstration, or virtual discussion. They can be an excellent way for professionals to demonstrate their expertise and connect with prospective clients. If you’re a doctor, lawyer, tax expert, or financial advisor, it could be a great way to get into dialogues with consumers interested in what you offer. Webinars may cost a significant amount to develop and launch, but they can pay off over time since they can be offered to new people year after year after year.

Advertise in targeted media

This is an old and relatively expensive marketing tactic, but it’s a proven one. Place ads in printed and digital publications that cover topics related to what you sell. Advertising can bring prestige to your brand if placed in high-profile publications. It can also generate results if it reaches people interested in what you’re selling.

For instance, an ad for a furniture store next to a story about top decorators in a high-end city guide could polish the store’s reputation and reach people who care about furniture and decorating their homes. In this case, an investment in advertising could pay off significantly. However, if you use advertising incorrectly, for example, placing a hardware store ad on a fashion blog, it could cost you a lot and not generate any business results.

If you decide to advertise, work with an agency that specializes in your industry and knows your market.

Direct mail marketing

Direct marketing isn’t dead. In fact, in many cases, it’s a great way to break through all the digital clutter.

Similar to most types of marketing, your chance of direct mail success is tied to how good your creativity is. You can’t just send people junk mail and expect a return on your investment. You need to send something that will compel them to open it, delight them, and get them to act.

Direct mail isn’t easy, but it could be worth trying with a specialized agency, especially if your digital marketing efforts are falling flat.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you do one thing with your marketing loan dollars, it’s to optimize your website for search. After all, your other marketing efforts are worthless if people can’t find you on Google or your competitors show up ahead of you in its results.

Getting SEO right isn’t easy. Google changes its algorithm all the time. That’s why it’s essential to keep an SEO expert on retainer to advise you. An investment in SEO expertise will pay off in “free” visitors — and prospective customers — coming to your website for years to come. Failing to invest in SEO could make your business invisible to Google searchers. And if your business doesn’t exist on Google, does it exist anywhere?

Best small business loans for marketing

Not every financing option is right for business development purposes. Here are some types of business funding worth considering:

  • Traditional bank loans usually have the lowest interest rates and most favorable loan terms of all the business financing options. Established small businesses with owners who have good personal credit ratings typically qualify for them. Term loans are the most popular financing type offered by traditional financial companies, and the proceeds can be used for almost any business need, including marketing your company. (Short-term loans are best for marketing.) Be aware: Most banks will require you to put up a personal guarantee on a loan, which means you could lose valuable assets if your marketing campaigns fail and you cannot pay back your loan.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans come with attractive interest rates and terms. SBA 7(a) loans are the top SBA loan option. They provide U.S.-based small businesses with low-interest financing. The maximum loan amount is $5 million. They may be used for many things, including promoting your business. Be aware that it can be challenging to be approved for an SBA loan, so your small business must have an excellent credit history and solid track record to qualify. If your business is a startup or associated with an underserved community, you may qualify for the SBA Microloan Program. The financing amounts from this loan program are relatively small, capping out at $50,000.
  • A business line of credit provides you with financing when you need it, and you only have to pay it back when you use the money. It’s similar to a credit card in that you are granted a limit you can borrow against, then pay it back and borrow again. It can be a good option for marketing purposes because you can borrow the money to launch a campaign and pay it back when it generates results.
  • Business credit cards may be required for many marketing efforts. Facebook, Linkedin, Google Ads, and other advertising platforms will need a business credit card before you can launch advertising. Like a line of credit, you could use the credit card to pay for advertising and repay the money as soon as new business comes in. If you use a credit card to pay for advertising, choose one that offers travel or other perks that could benefit your operation.
  • Online loans are essentially the same as those from traditional banks, except that most of the loan application process is online, including uploading bank statements, tax returns, your business plan, and other information required to determine creditworthiness. Loans from online lenders can be used for virtually any purpose, including marketing, and are usually faster to get than traditional ones. Eligibility for these loans is easier than from conventional banks. If your business is newer or has a less-than-stellar credit score, it could be the ideal option for your advertising needs.
  • Credit unions can be a good source of marketing funding for small business owners who are members. If you are a credit union member, check with yours to see if they’d put up the cash for your marketing.
  • Venture capitalists or angel investors will often include marketing dollars as a part of a small business investment package. If you’ve received venture capital or angel investor type of financing, see if this is the case for you.
  • Crowdfunding or a Kickstarter campaign could be intriguing options for paying for marketing, especially since they’re a form of marketing in themselves. If you use crowdfunding to secure marketing funds, find ways to turn investors into customers and advocates.
  • Friends and family could be a suitable funding option for small advertising efforts. Just make sure you have something in writing that explains loan repayment.

Some types of small business financing that don’t make sense for marketing purposes include merchant cash advances, real estate loans, accounts receivable financing, and equipment loans.

Final thoughts

Like all aspects of running a small business, if you borrow money for anything, you must be able to pay it back, maintain solid cash flow, and still earn a profit. The same is true if you borrow for marketing purposes. When you use loaned money for marketing, it has to pay off in a big enough way to pay off the loan AND earn your business a profit. That’s why you need to select the best and least risky marketing strategies that will generate great results. If you can’t confidently do it yourself, seek professional guidance and support. It could be the smartest way to invest your advertising loan money.

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