Advertising and Promotion

A question many business people ask is "how to advertise my business?" Are you one of those people? If so, read on Macduff, we'll discuss some options here.

This article includes both paid for and earned advertising, the latter being advertising that's not paid for ie organic social media reach, press coverage and the likes; because if you run a small business you may not have a huge marketing budget to splash.

Advertising is a vast arena, even more so since the emergence of online platforms and social media (I'm old enough to remember before they were "a thing", in fact, it feels like yesterday ūüôą). So for clarity let's break this into two key objectives:

Presence and Positioning

Presence - letting customers know you're there.
Hello - I'm here! On Grampian Business Finder!

Positioning - making your products or services stand out from the competition.

Stand out from the crowd on Grampian Business Finder

Here at Grampian Business Finder, and in our other business This Little Piggy Marketing we're fairly well known for helping businesses with both presence and positioning, we get a real buzz from helping our clients to get themselves out there and stand out from the crowd.

NO business is exactly the same as its competitors, if you sell the same widget in exactly the same marketplace that's cool, you can still differentiate on many other levels, another day another blog for that one - right now we'll focus on presence.

PRESENCE - how to advertise my business?

To get your business in front of people who might want what you have, you can find new customers through advertising, or source referrals from your existing customers and network of contacts. A good marketing strategy will likely include both. There's an old saying that  "word of mouth is the best form of advertising" which is absolutely true, but fewer businesses now than in the good ole days can rely on word of mouth alone, in today's modern world most marketplaces are highly competitive meaning relying solely on word of mouth is not enough to get you out there and standing out.

Finding New Customers using Advertising

There is a whole host of ways to promote and advertise your business and increase brand awareness, online being one of the most effective but some offline methods stand the test of time and should not be underestimated. Here are just a few to consider (this list is by no means exhaustive).

  • Google and Bing paid advertising on the internet
  • Social media paid advertising
  • Organic (free) content publishing on social media pages and platforms
  • Organic content publishing on social media groups ie Facebook and LinkedIn groups
  • Business directories and networking platforms - Grampian Business Finder has both free and paid for options
  • Vehicle livery
  • Google Business - formerly known as Google My Business, which provides the business listings Google Maps entries that you see when searching the internet
  • Blogging - given this is a blog, it would rude not to

Google and Bing Paid Advertising

Internet advertising allows businesses to advertise their products and services directly on the internet. An advertiser pays when someone clicks on an ad and hopefully buys something through their website. These ads are highly targeted and can be based on local and global search.

The ads are very effective because they're based on the intent of the searcher looking for your business and ideally looking to buy or order something from you. When the correct search terms are used this means that your ads are reaching exactly the right people. Please make sure you do your research to confirm that you're using the same search terms as your potential customers are using - don't rely on guesswork as doing so means your ads might not be seen by the right people or even worse you waste your money. You can research keywords using the Google Keyword Planner and other third-party tools. Internet ads done right, are very cost-effective given the precise targeting, and they also allow small businesses to compete on a level playing field alongside large brands - which some do very successfully.

Small businesses can compete with large brands

Regardless of online targeting capabilities, content is king, so your ads must engage the searcher and make them want to read more, whether your objective is to get sign-ups to your mailing list, people contacting you, people making purchases, or something else, your ads and landing page(s) must be compelling viewing in order to achieve that. You could have the best targeting in the world but without engaging content - written and visual, your ads will likely be unsuccessful.

Stand out from the crowd on Grampian Business Finder

Social Media Paid Advertising

Social Media advertising on ie Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn is a very popular way to advertise small business as well as large, and allows for the targeting and cost-effectiveness of internet ads, through the platforms' sophisticated algorithms and vast knowledge about their users' interests, demographics, and behaviours.

Organic (free) Content on Social Media Pages and Platforms

Organic content is the free content that you publish on your social media channels. While many, especially small business owners looking to save money, think this is the way to advertise business free, it's important to bear in mind that there are costs associated with the time you spend creating and publishing your content, or having a social media manager do it for you, it is, therefore, crucial to weigh up the actual costs of running your social media platforms and the return on your investment, just as you would evaluate the return on ad spend (ROAS) of paid for advertising.

Content is queen (did I say king? it's actually both) so the quality of your content is extremely important - I don't mean fancy studio productions and designer images necessarily; I mean quality as in, does your content "stop the scroll"? Will your audience STOP scrolling and want to view it, and better still engage with your content? Quality content is essential for running popular channels, if your channel is not bringing you engagement it will not be seen, and no one wants tumbleweed on their social media channels unless, of course, you're selling tumbleweed.

Social media channels are not the place for tumbleweed

With this in mind, it's vital to analyse the impact of all your social media activities on an ongoing basis, using the insights and analytics provided by the platforms.

Organic Content on Social Media Groups

If your question is "how to advertise my business on Facebook?" or even "how to advertise business free?", groups may be great for you. Facebook and LinkedIn both have an abundance of groups, many of which you can join and promote your business on for free, whatever the size of an entity from small business to large corporate. The platforms also allow you to set up your own groups which is how the Grampian Business Finder Facebook Group came to exist in 2016.

Your content quality is equally as important in groups as it is on pages and platforms, and it's important to note that in the same way that different platforms require different content tone and emphasis, sometimes different content altogether; the same applies to groups so with that in mind make sure you get to know the group you're posting on, the vibe, types of content that is appreciated, the group rules etc, so that when you contribute you are maximising your chances of engagement from members and potential customers. Unless exceptional circumstances NEVER just share a piece of content from your business page to a group without accompanying words - add some chat to your fellow members, show them that you care and that you are approachable.

Have good banter

Business Directories and Networking Platforms

Business directories and networking platforms come in all shapes and sizes, there are many free online business directories - our freemium version is the free Facebook group, and there are a wealth of others including and yelp to name but 2. Inclusion in online directories can assist with your SEO (search engine optimisation) and I love when I see that the Grampian Business Finder Business Directory is helping to achieve good search rankings for our members.

Business directories including free online business directories, and networking platforms have a variety of benefits, one of our unique stand-out benefits is that we tag our members in relevant requests for providers on our Facebook group, (remember what I said earlier about the intent of the searcher?). We have over 24,500 members sourcing and promoting businesses on the group, with laser-focused intentions asking anything from "does anyone know a good accountant?" to "where can I do zumba classes?" and everything in between. Our members include individuals, small businesses through to large, and non-profits, charities, and community organisations. Our group also provides a networking platform for members to ask about business or local issues ie credit control, and market research for starting or growing a business, or enquiring about job opportunities.

Looking for your business

Vehicle Livery

Vehicle livery can not and should not be underestimated which is why I've included it here. Not all effective advertising methods are online, and vehicle signage is affordable, stands the test of time, and depending on your commute is seen by hundreds if not thousands. By the way, did anyone see me at The Killers gig in Falkirk? Traffic was slow and so many nice people commented on our signage by¬†Sign Company Aberdeen Limited, I even thought about going back the next night and parking for the visibility ūüėā (yes strategic parking is a thing). If you saw us drop me a comment and we can chat about how much we love Brandon Flowers.

This Little Piggy went to The Killers in Falkirk

Google Business

I can't let this blog go without a nod to Google Business, it's free to claim or create your business profile, and really straightforward to manage. Google Business significantly helps your SEO and your activity there is visible to people searching the web - so being proactive there is great for brand awareness and for advertising social media platforms and your website. Ideally, the aim is to be in the top businesses shown on the Google map for your ideal search terms.


Blogging when done effectively helps you to rank high in search terms that your potential customers are using, but it's not only about that, your blogs need to be relevant, and helpful to the reader - I hope this blog achieves that. Oftentimes, when I've suggested blogging to my clients they are reluctant to give away their secrets - like suddenly they will lose all their customers. A good rule of thumb on that one, is to ask "are they secrets or can the information be found online anyway?" If the latter would you rather throw your hat into the online ring, or be invisible? The saying "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" springs to mind.

When you share your wisdom some will read it and leave and of course, that's absolutely fine, the world will keep turning. Some might engage with you though and share your content, chat in the comments, subscribe to your mailing list, or even become a customer - please feel free to do any or all of these things here ūüėČ, I'd love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions you may have.

Sourcing Referrals from Your Existing Customers and Contacts

I usually advise never to assume but I'm making an exception here and assuming that you the reader is delivering excellent products or services to your customers - high five to you! That being the case it stands to reason that your customers and contacts will recommend you to others, doesn't it? In theory, indeed it does, but in practice, it can prove quite tricky to get referrals and reviews, usually because people have the best intentions but limited time to spare, or they "don't know what to write". The good news here is that we can encourage our customers to give us referrals and reviews to increase our chances. Below are some suggestions for doing that.

  • When talking to happy customers, ask them to tell their friends about you
  • Ask your happy customers if they know anyone who could use your services or products, if yes ask them to introduce you
  • It might be appropriate to offer a finders fee or reward to your audience for securing you a new customer. Check out this¬†refer a friend offer of ¬£150 from Thorn Kitchens¬†here on Grampian Business Finder as an example
  • Customer-facing businesses - you're lucky! You can ask every customer for a referral when you see them
  • Customer-facing businesses - make that really lucky! You can also ask every customer for an online review - if you're spending time with them they might even be able to review you in the moment on their phones, there's nothing like striking while the iron's hot and while your customers are at their happiest!
  • If you have space on your receipts or business cards you can also add a request for referrals and reviews as an aide memoir
  • Or if you are for example a restaurant or hair salon you can put a request on your menus or price lists - nothing beats a captive audience with time on their hands, for collecting reviews!
  • All businesses - whether face to face, phone-based, or online - do ask every customer if they will kindly provide an online review on Facebook and Google, and your LinkedIn personal profile if applicable
  • Make requesting online reviews standard practice, embed this into your business routine just as you would open the shop door or check your business emails - it's that important. Too often business owners forget and it's a small discipline that can make a HUGE difference to a business's online presence

Ask your customers for reviews and referrals

Handling Online Reviews

Respond to ALL online reviews - yes even the not very nice ones. By responding to reviews you're not only thanking reviewers for their feedback and time, you're also demonstrating to other readers ie potential customers, how proactive, professional, and approachable you are, remember "people buy from people".

On the occasion that you get a bad review it's good practice to thank the reviewer, and either nicely put forward your side of the story, or in the event of having to hold your hands up (none of us is perfect) it's an opportunity to show that you're human and humble, while at the same time offering a solution or apology or whatever is the most suitable response. Doing so has a much better impact on other readers and perhaps the reviewer; than a review left unanswered to which the reader is left to draw their own conclusion based on one side of a story. A review argued with can often have a negative impact, not to mention the associated energy drain, unless the review is obviously malicious and/or the reply particularly hilarious, there are exceptions to every rule, in fact in marketing the rules are there are no rules!

Thank you for your review


Positioning is making your product or service stand out from the crowd, often in highly competitive marketplaces. Do remember that online options offer a much more level playing field whether you're looking to advertise small business online, or advertise large business. There are many ways in which small business owners can gain an advantage when advertising small business as summarised earlier, I will expand on this in a future blog.

If reading this has been helpful to you your review would be most appreciated, you can review Grampian Business Finder on Google and review Grampian Business Finder on Facebook.

Do drop me a comment if you have any questions or feedback or if you have suggestions for content you'd like to see here, I really enjoy hearing what you think. If you'd like some help with your online advertising and to know more about us working together I'm more than happy to have a free chat - no strings. The Grampian Business Finder platforms help businesses who are contributing to and/or operating in Grampian, Scotland; and This Little Piggy Marketing serves a global English-speaking market.

Thank you for reading. Here's to your success, all the best, Karen

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