Is advertising or PR better for a small business with a small budget?
Does PR or advertising give bigger bang for the buck for small businesses who need to make sure they get results and with limited risk and a limited budget?
I have no read other answers yet, but I'll give my 2 cents.
When you are running a small business with limited budget, any sort of honest, real and professional marketing channel and strategy is just great.
From word of mouth, guest author, coupons and banners in local newspaper, to a featured story, book and a warm casual phone calls, play tremendously here. It all depends on your type of business, contacts you may have and networks you are a part of, even marketing on a budget include getting to really know and understand which features and solutions do you feel comfortable using, and what type of relationships you are interested in building.
Would you mind sharing more about that specific small business? in which industry is in?
Be wary of those people who offer the sky for your money. Just trust your gut. Ask yourself questions like, Which channel or strategy can bring me the most in this project? How much of this budget can I allocate to my goal this month? etc.
Success to you.
If done right and you have the audience for it, I think social media is the cheaper route and does a better job than both PR and advertising together.
Public Relations will always give a small business better return on investment. Using the right PR who has experience in small business development as we do is what you need. I'm biased of course. Social media as Dana says is a good first step but you need to know what you are doing.
Not even a close call, PR for sure! PR lends instant credibility & is more of an endorsement. You can repurpose it via social media, direct marketing, etc. An investment in PR will more than pay for itself if you get the right team on board, good luck!
It's all about MARKETING. PR is getting the buzz out for free in local papers, etc that the brand is good for/in the community, that the business owner is a good person, etc. If your target market in under 40, then social media can be very cost effective. Limited budget requires that you know your audience, know where they hang out, and provide them with enough info to believe & trust that you're the place to go for more. It's not selling, it's getting those warm feelings going so people will think of your business when they are ready.
Getting a third party (PR) to say something favorable on your behalf is more desirable than advertising. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's credited Al Golin of Golin Harris PR with helping grow the brand when it couldn't afford to compete by advertising in the early years. However, PR takes an investment of time and effort over a sustained period that advertising does not. Moreover, unlike ads, you don't control the content, when, where or for how long the message appears. As a rule, if your marketing dollars don't generate at least 4-1 in incremental sales you won't break even if you operate on a 25% margin. In other words, spending $1000 on ads or PR won't bring you anything extra in profit until it generates over $4000 in sales. Both ad and PR people like to dispute this and claim their worth is greater but your accountant would verify this as fact.
While, as has been pointed out, PR and advertising are not the same, they do cross over each other from time to time and they do affect each other. And you can have; should have both, as long as you work it right.
A great ad campaign coupled with bad PR will do you no good at all and the same goes with great PR and a bad ad campaign. Whoever is handling your PR should be either working with or handling your ad campaign.
That said, the best PR that you can have is total integrity coupled with community responsibility and excellent quality of your goods and services. With that, it boosts any advertising that you do.
As a very lean startup company, most of my advertising is on the web, through word of mouth and via contacts that I have made through just being part and parcel with the community. Many people forget that they are part of the community when they do business, so a part of your PR and advertising budget (and this is where they overlap) should be in community relations.
Sponsoring local little league teams, participating and setting up booths at community events and getting out there to talk to people. Giving little freebies away (fridge magnets, pens, little gadgets, introductory free/reduced rate service, etc.) at these events will both get you out there as well as make people remember your company name.
It is all part of the foundation of a good business. Quality, integrity, community involvement. Make those part of whatever you budget for your image and you can have both good PR and an advertising budget that is within reason for your company.
But, as I said before, all of that is for naught if the integrity, responsibility and reliability of your goods/services/warrantees on them are nothing but empty promises.
That really depends upon the kind of market you're working in.
The people I give media training to are doing it to become efficient and confident spokespeople. But everyone who interacts with the market is in effect building the brand, so that is a good place to start.
Are you all singing from the same song sheet? Don't be surprised if the vision hasn't made it down to the coalface unless you engage with those people. For you, it;s a passion, but for them a job.
Advertising will give you brand recognition, but each sector will have its own hit rate for conversions to sales from display. However, PR, like charity, starts at home and tells a story. That story needs to be consistent and compelling to whichever audience you're pitching it to – punters, investors, journos.
If you start to get that right as a small business, you can then put advertising to work more efficiently because you've already created a story in the market.
Joseph, what type of business do you have? How old is it? Can you tell me your current value proposition and who do you believe your target customer is?