2,839 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
There has never been a better time to be a small business looking to market itself. Traditionally, one of the biggest struggles for small businesses has been running cost effective advertising campaigns. Having the budget and expertise to create a high quality logo, develop effective ad copy, identify the proper advertising channels, etc. has been out of reach for most small businesses. The result was that small businesses either opted out of advertising altogether, which caused them to miss the opportunity to market to a large target market, or they wasted money running ad campaigns that were ineffective.
The advent of crowdsourcing is changing the face of advertising for small businesses. Businesses owners now have the ability to tap into a huge talent pool that has the time and expertise to help them create and manage sophisticated and profitable advertising campaigns. Following are five tips for leveraging the power of crowdsourcing to advertise your small business.
1. Start Branding With a Memorable Logo
Every business needs a brand. While brand advertising is not the purview of most small businesses, the best way to establish a recognizable brand is through a powerful and memorable logo. Long gone are the days of asking your friend’s college-age kid to whip up a logo for you. You can now have a professional logo designed for you in only a few hours using a number of logo creation crowdsourcing businesses such as 99Designs and Crowdspring. Once you’ve gotten your logo, these businesses will also help you build a professional looking website using the same crowd of design experts.
2. Advertise Effectively on Google, Yahoo and Bing
Many small businesses have tried search engine advertising but most have found that it takes more time and expertise than they expected to be successful. Two solutions are coming from the crowd. If you want to work with one person directly, you can now find a paid search expert on freelance marketplaces like oDesk or Elance. If you’d rather not try to pick just one person, you can use Trada, a service that lets multiple paid search experts work on your campaign together on a pay for performance basis. Either way, bridging the expertise gap is the solution to effective search advertising.
3. Help Your Customers Promote Your Business
Happy customers are your best referrals, and generating referral business is easier than ever before. There are a number of location-based services now that let customers “check in” to your location using their mobile phones. Foursquare and Gowalla are the leaders, but more targeted services like the soon-to-launch Forkly for restaurants pop up every day. When customers check in, they frequently publish it to their Facebook and Twitter streams. Each check-in is free advertising for you to all of their friends and followers. Help the crowd promote your business by getting active with these services and offering incentives (e.g. a coupon or free cup of coffee) to the most active users.
4. Become Active in Social Media
While many people focus on engagement with customers as the primary reason to have an active presence on Twitter and Facebook, a lot of small businesses are realizing that social media is also the cheapest way to spread the word about their product or service. If your business has a Facebook page (it’s free!) and one of your customers “likes” it – this is viewed by all of their friends. Frequently, this can lead to their friends to discover your business for the first time.
One of the most undervalued aspects of working with a coupon company like Groupon or LivingSocial is that many people take advantage of coupons as a group. If you have a Yoga studio, it’s likely that the first person to receive a coupon offer for your business will forward it to two or three of their friends so they can take advantage of the offer together. This is another form of the crowd advertising for you: passing along recommendations. Recommendations from friends are one of the most powerful forms of advertising.
To get the most of our crowdsourcing your advertising, simply change your perspective about who the crowd is. Sometimes the crowd is a group of experts such as logo designers or online advertising experts, and sometimes the crowd is simply your existing customers. Either way, the most successful small businesses are learning how to leverage the crowd for advertising in powerful ways that were previously unavailable.
Niel Robertson is the CEO and founder of Trada, the world’s first crowdsourced PPC marketplace. Robertson is also a founding member of the Crowdsortium, an organization for crowdsourcing companies and organizations. You can find Niel at Trada.com/blog and @nielr1 on Twitter.