There are so many ways to market and advertise products that working out what's best for you and your business can be like navigating a minefield.
Print, broadcasting, online and numerous social media sites are where your customers might look for the products and services you offer. The trick is in knowing where to spend your money and your time. Lara Bancroft, interactive marketing director at Yellow, says evidence-based advertising is online's strength over others.
"What you get with an online advert is a return on investment that can be tracked and measured," she says. "That is one of the things companies are demanding. With some of the more traditional media channels you can't get very specific data.
"A billboard is a great advertising tool for building awareness, but it is hard to track the response rate. As we get more advanced in the digital space then advertisers can be very specific with their advertising - about who they are targeting and where they are marketing their products or services."
The key to any advertising campaign is generating what those in the industry term a 'call to action'. This normally involves placing a proposition in front of potential customers that almost compels them to contact you to find out more.
"The first thing any business needs to decide on are its goals and what it hopes to accomplish from its advertising," says Bancroft. "Google AdWords is a good option. For example, a plumber might use the words 'Parnell', 'plumber', 'after hours'. You can be very specific when it comes to appearing in search results.
"However, the trick with advertising is to keep the message on point. Too many businesses make their offer too complex. My advice is to keep it simple and to drive consumers to where you can connect with them. That could be your website or your Facebook page."
Understanding who your customers are and building relationships with them is a key part of the advertising mix, says Bancroft.
"Building relationships is incredibly important," she says. "It is all about knowing who your customers are, what they want, what they expect, where they are and how you can best service them. Digital is such an important tool in accomplishing that."
She says that despite living in a digitally-connected world, people still want to do business with people.
"The internet is a great tool for finding information, doing product searches... but there is still a great number of people who actually go to businesses to make purchases," says Bancroft. "If business owners lose that connection with their customers, then they may lose the understanding of how to satisfy their needs."
As a business, Yellow regularly connects with its customers through a private online community to better understand the needs and wants of small businesses in New Zealand so that it can support their success by delivering what they need. It's something every business owner should emulate, says Bancroft.
"For example, a business could list its top five customers and engage with them," she says. "They can be used as a soundboard for new ideas."
Video is also playing a larger part in the advertising mix, with many promotional videos appearing on company websites and on YouTube a site that can be used for product research by shoppers.
"Video is a powerful tool and increasing numbers of firms are using them to promote their products," says Bancroft. "Google, which Yellow partners with, says that YouTube is now the world's second largest search engine."
"Also, videos are easily shared and can be watched on all devices computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. A video can deliver a very personalized experience."
Bancroft says the company's Yellow Toolbox site provides information for firms looking for digital marketing and advertising solutions.
Advertising key facts
1. Know your business and its goals
2. You have to be online
3. You need to be found
4. Measure and track your advertising to see what works and what doesn't
5. Don't be afraid to mix up your advertising - but don't forget what you are trying to accomplish
6. Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed by the options - particularly with social media
7. Think through your advertising and keep it simple
8. Use YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc - but don't do everything at once
9. Keep advertising offers simple
10. Always deliver on your promise
Source: Lara Bancroft, Yellow