Local businesses only need local advertising.



So the choice is then between local analogue adverting and digital or a mix. How do you make the choices when you are a small local business with a small marketing budget. (The reality is that every business no matter what their size faces the same choices, it is only the scale that differs.)

Local analogue advertising includes everything off line, billboards, local sponsorships, letterbox drops,  and many others. In most cases, digital becomes  a choice between Facebook and Google AdWords . Often I see business owners make a series of compromises that dilute the effectiveness of their efforts by spreading it too far, and further they do not adequately consider the varying strengths and weaknesses of  the platform choices they are making.

Creating a simple framework against which to ‘score’ the alternatives against your   objectives is useful, but there are two critical questions to be answered first:

  • What is  the objective of the marketing spend. Without a clear objective, the rest becomes a potentially costly academic exercise, so lets assume you have that one nailed.
  • Who is my ideal customer. Being able to refine your communication in whatever form it is to attract the people you want to attract is key. No point wasting communication money reaching those who do not want, or cannot afford whatever it is you are selling. In addition  understanding the behaviour so you can refine the channels you use to communicate is a benefit that   is delivered by digital tools, but that knowledge is transferrable to analogue. Recently I saw an ad in a bus on a route in the north shore of Sydney for a specialist self managed superannuation provider. Firstly adverting such a service on a bus is perhaps not the best channel, and secondly the advertiser was located in Stanmore, so any ‘local’ advantage was lost.

Following are 6 simple things to consider that may assist the choices:


The sponsorship of a local sporting team lasts the period of the sponsorship, perhaps longer as the kids wear the jerseys running around the park. A Facebook ad that attracts page likes can be used and reused to the same presumably interested audience,  a Google ad is gone once the budget is spent on clicks, which may be from a potential customer, a competitor consuming your budget, or a bot in the Philippines.


This has become flavour of the month as digital has made it seemingly easier, by providing tools that do it on autopilot. Google offers remarketing tools that can be remarkably effective, but they can also be remarkably annoying when you are chased around the web after a casual look at a website for any one of a number of reasons not necessarily associated with a purchase. However, it is an old idea, one that effective analogue advertising has been using for  ever, often called ‘leverage’. When you spend some money sponsoring the local kids soccer team, putting your businesses on the back of their jerseys, there is nothing stopping you giving out a voucher to visit your restaurant, shop, or for a discount on your services at the games where the kids are playing, displaying your sponsorship. This is simply leveraging the investment made in the sponsorship, ‘remarketing’ to the digital mavens.


On line you  can track everything, and generate an explicit ROI on your marketing expenditure, using the numbers to refine and focus the investment. This is way harder to do using analogue media, but there is no reason you would  not be able to track the redemption of the vouchers given out at the match noted above, and steadily refining the offers you made. It is just a bit more work, and nobody ever thinks of doing it. However, the value of  the data generated by digital media is huge, so long as you make the further investment in collecting, analysing, generating the insights, then actually using the insights to direct your efforts. Most local businesses in my experience fall down in this cause and effect chain.


Local businesses have a significant opportunity to collaborate way more than they do. The dress shop with the shoe shop, real estate agent with the interior decorator, restaurant with local grog shop, the list goes on. Digital media makes this a bit easier, but only a bit, you still have to agree the terms, timing and nature of the offer, and how the costs and benefits are to be shared irrespective of the media.

Generating and using lists.

Analogue channels are not good at inexpensive list building, but it can be done, and has been done forever. However, the building and leveraging of lists, either by email, targeted digital adverting, or indeed  the combination of a list with old fashioned snail mail is a channel  where digital has the goods on analogue. However, many local businesses fail to build lists and the technology to leverage them although now well known and pretty simple eludes many, leaving money on the table.

Attention & impact.

Finally, perhaps the most important parameter  for which it is hard to have some tick on a list, is the impact of your communication. Paying for an ad or offer that is not sufficiently memorable or impactful to generate an action of some sort as a result of the ad is a total waste of money irrespective of the medium. Small businesses do not spend anywhere near enough time, effort or expertise considering this vital element.

When you need a bit of assistance with all this stuff, call someone you trust, and who has the experience, as  the cost will be greatly outweighed by the benefits


This post was inspired by another of Hugh McLeod’s insightful cartoons that popped into my inbox, and I used it in the header for this post as well. Thanks Hugh.