SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announces the new MacBook during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. is expected to unveil more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

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I spend hours communicating with small business owners all over the world and they have one common concern. My budget won’t allow me to do the kind of advertising I’d like to do.

In years past I would have had to agree. Most small businesses operate on such a small margin that it’s sometimes considered a good month if they just break even. But as Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a changin’.”

Inbound vs. Outbound

Let’s look at some common forms of outbound advertising in use today. What is outbound advertising you ask? It’s paid advertising that tries to find you rather than you finding it.

And it's usually pricy.

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Direct Mail
  • Billboards

What do they all have in common? They are all interrupters of our daily lives. They all come into your daily life and interrupt what you are doing. And there is a high cost tied to using most of them.

The good part of the TV show comes along and there’s a commercial.

On Radio we get our favorite songs but there is advertising there too.

Newspapers and magazines we have to read around the advertising.

Billboards block out our view and if we just look the other way there are probably more on the other side of the road as well.

Inbound Advertising

Inbound advertising is customers trying to find you and is usually much cheaper than that alternative but to say it’s easy would be an understatement.

Social media is inbound advertising. Future and current customers looking up your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn Page and following you for your information.

People who do business with you recommending your business to their friends and family.

Some Final Thoughts

No advertising is too expensive if it pays for itself and makes a profit for the business. Start up businesses are often building their business on a limited budget.

Social media is a very powerful marketing tool. It’s very efficient when used correctly. With more smart phones, iPads and laptops customers are more educated about products then ever before. They can compare prices right in the aisles of your business.

As I said social media is not easy but it can be very effective. You can demo your products on YouTube, give valuable information to customers that will create trust and confidence in your business.

For many customers, confidence transcends price.

If your competitors are not already using social media they soon will be. You can either get on the train or keep standing at the station.

Newspapers, radio, TV, magazines all have an online presence you should too.

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