In today’s world there are so many options available to market your business, both large and small. What though tends to be the best? That is the great question. Companies are always looking for ways to get found. I would like to provide you some tips to optimize online marketing for your brand and business.

Let us explore what options are currently available to us and dive into the pluses and minuses of each. We will also define each avenue and look at some costs.

Traditional Media

Television: It is really going the way of the dinosaur (well advertising on it anyway). The infomercial still goes strong, but for the small business the cost often will no longer justify the result. With so many people watching television online, or on a DVR there is just not much of a place for the small guy to invest his entire marketing budget on a few ads on local television.

Radio: You can still reach some audiences. Talk shows tend to be the best, but many radio stations are struggling. They are not getting the audiences they once used to. Many people have flocked to Satellite and HD radio. Those at least that aren’t plugging in their iPod’s, MP3 players or even mobile phones into their car to listen to their self created playlist or podcast. If you use this medium be smart about timing and show that you chose, but there may be better values to your marketing dollar.

Newspaper: Do they still distribute these? You will have better luck advertising on their website than in their daily or weekly paper. I think people only still get the paper for the coupons so if you have good coupons then you may be okay with this. A per page ad? Probably not.

Billboards: If you are trying to get someone to exit the freeway to visit you, probably. If you are trying to get them to remember your 18 character web address, not likely. Too many of these are not bringing the right conversion, because as much as we text and drive we will not write a billboard phone number or especially web address while going 80 on the freeway. Be careful about how you are doing this. You will reach a lot more people in vertical press or online where your customers frequent.

Mailers: Most are tossed, unread, and disposed of. Again, the value of coupon has to be pretty good. These are often sent to a random recipient, not a specific targeted audience, other than just zip code. Look at mediums that allow you to target better. Restaurants can get away with this if the special is attractive enough, but for most of us it is not usually the return we would like, or even can get elsewhere.

Vertical Press: Can still have some validity, but not near as much. However, I think with the iPad and other tablets this “old” media will become new again. There are applications for these devices that can make it feel like you are reading the actual magazine, just in a digital format. There is an added power to this because your ad can be hyperlinked to a landing page on your website geared specifically to that ad. Newspapers could also take on this as well in the future. Until that is more mainstream it will be a struggle to justify a lot of this as a first or second priority.

Modern Media

Website: A web presence is key in today’s day and age. It must be mobile device and tablet compatible as well. This does not mean you may have to have 2 sites, but please people stay away from flash, or at least set it so their is a replacement for flash. Apple and Blackberry do not support it and currently they control the mobile market, plus there is no SEO value to flash anyway. So why bother?

Pay Per Click Search Engine Ads: There is a serious waste of money to this medium. However, it is extremely valuable at the same time. PPC has to do solely with how you are doing it. Google drives a lot of clicks to websites that are not prepared. It is like calling a girl for a date and then her totally forgetting you are coming and she may need an hour to prep, or worse may not even be there. This happens all the time with a PPC campaign. The client clicks on the link and it takes them to a page with no relevant content and worse no way to get in contact with you. Trust me, they are not going to search through your site just to find a way to call you. They WILL go back and find someone else. Please folks, use landing pages to gather contact information. These are valuable leads. You should know, you paid for them.

PPC Web Banner Ads: Same as above applies. These though are not search engine specific. They can be very specific content as you can target these based on keywords or key sites that are relevant to your business. Use them wisely as sometimes they can cost more than their search engine counterparts. Know your budget and your cost per click before you go into this full boar. Facebook is become a strong candidate for this space as well.

Future Media

Mobile Advertising: I mentioned one aspect of this above in Vertical Press. I think there is going to be a lot more of these type of opportunities come our way with the onset of 4g networks, iPads, tablets, mobile smartphones, GPS units, and more we are about to see. This will range from checking in specials opportunities like with Foursquare, Twitter & Facebook mobile ads based on GPS. Web ads, Local Listing services, Mobile browsers and more will have a big play in this space. Google and Bing are looking every day at ways to capitalize on this space and they will open doors for the business like yourself to put this to use in a powerful fashion.

Social Networking: This is already out there, but is ever evolving. The greatest benefit for most businesses is it is all about referrals and networking. For many businesses, the strongest customer base comes from word of mouth. Also, if you are not involved you probably should be, because the greatest detriment to business is word of mouth as well. More people share their feelings on Twitter than anywhere else. Are you aware of what they are saying about your brand? Even if you despise the social network and have no desire to advertise on it (you may be missing out on a huge opportunity if you fall under this group) you should at least follow up to see what people are saying about your brand so that you can either reinforce the good, or combat the negative. We have seen over the past year a couple huge brands completely redo their image based on what has been said on social networks. The top on the list is Domino’s Pizza. They were a dying brand, but never really knew why. They got into social media and started listening to what people said, ran campaigns, asked questions, and now what is going on? They have redone their image and are constantly working to improve it. That is the power of a social network in business.

GeoTargeted GPS Based Ads: This one is not available as far as I know of, but I do not see it as too far off. Right now if you listen to Pandora or some other online radio their ads are often targeted based on your IP address, so what is to say that as we are driving in our car that advertisements will not be tied to our current GPS location? As well we could see this on our phones in both Mobile Twitter/Youtube/Facebook as well as Google Maps & Point, etc. As something along this realm comes to fruition it will bring a great validity to these advertising methods as it will provide information, discounts, or advertising based on where you currently are. For example, if I were driving past a Starbucks at 9am an ad may come on my mobile device for $1 off a mocha, or at lunch time near Panda Express I get a 2 for 1 deal. There could be apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Palm to sign up for such a service to text a deal when near a subscribed location.

As you build out your online campaigns be sure to help your business optimize online marketing with a global approach. This will provide you with more traffic, enhanced revenue and a more recognized brand.

I footnotes