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Pros & Cons of Paid Advertising for Small Businesses


As an entrepreneur and woman in business there comes a point where you inevitably will need to think how you are going to share your brand, shout from the rooftops that you exist, and generate more sales.

From my experience it comes down to…are you willing to pay for that buzz through advertising? I speak with many hard working entrepreneurs each week and our conversations always seem to circle back to advertising and how it has potential for eventually becoming “free exposure”.

Since I’ve been down the paid advertising route before, I figured I’d share my experiences and explore the pro’s and con’s, from one entrepreneur to another.

These are just my experiences (since I’ve tried it all ), so make sure to have your customer and your business goals in mind, and to stay in tune with what feels right for YOUR brand.


1. Guaranteed Placement:

Since you are paying for placement, you control the message. You control the size of the ad and how long it will run. No mystery around the message here. For example when I first launched JackieDeals (strictly the deals site), I wanted to get in front of the right audience so I paid for an ad on a highly visible website of a former star of ABC’s “Bachelorette.” It was the right fit because her audience was interested in fashion, beauty products, and entrepreneurship. We ran the ad for several months and had great results.


If you place an ad successfully you can drive more traffic to your website and align yourself with people and establishments that match up with your brand. Having a designated budget for advertising provides guaranteed placement and creative control of your message.

2. Paid Exposure Could Lead to Unpaid (Free!) Exposure:

When I started my first business, a monthly subscription service, I experimented with paying to run a small ad on a blogger’s website. This blogger only featured subscription services. While the ad was running, we worked the PR/free exposure angle and sent her a box (as a gift). This resulted in her doing a nice write-up about us.  We then had both a paid ad running and free exposure on her blog which resulted in over 600 new customers within one week. Even more valuable… word spread quickly about our business to other bloggers. Paid ads lead to free exposure which led to more free exposure. Talk about momentum.


If you pay to advertise, with your targeted audience in mind, it could lead to other opportunities and ultimately help with your un-paid exposure opportunities as well.


1. Once May Not Be Enough

With most forms of advertising, frequency is key. The more your ad is seen, the more your consumer can recall the message and be persuaded to take some action. For example if your consumer doesn’t buy that issue of the magazine you advertised in or hop online to that specific site, your precious ad is missed. You may need to run that ad multiple times to generate results.


The more times you run the ad, the more money you’ll spend. It can add up quickly. Therefore targeting is key. If your products or service are seasonal, save your ad spend for that time of year. If you have the opportunity to run your ad in a highly targeted site or magazine, consider the shelf life. Is it a monthly magazine, quarterly? Without eyeballs and frequency, the ad spend is pointless.

2. What’s the Perception of Paid Advertising?

It’s probably no secret to your customers that you are paying to be seen. This approach may be viewed with contempt…and viewed cautiously by your audience. For example, magazine editors didn’t approach you so an ad placed in their magazine may not have the same credibility since you are paying to get your “buy these products” message out there.


There’s nothing wrong with testing different advertising options, just consider how you want your brand to be perceived. Some brands refuse to pay for adverting while others run ads throughout the year. If you prefer an authentic approach, think carefully before heading down the advertisement route.


Stay tuned for next week when we go over the PROS and CONS of Public Relations aka Free Press!

Be sure to check it out.

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