Advertising Funnels for Small Businesses: Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Methods

in Business Management
small business marketing

There are endless advertising opportunities online and affline, but not all of them are profitable for small businesses.

All small businesses need customers in order to try to remain profitable and stay in operation.

One of the best ways of attracting and retaining customers is through advertising.

Advertising used to be through the mass media and extremely expensive, but with the growth of the Internet, online advertising has become much more targeted, and affordable.

This has opened up more years ago a totally new world of opportunities for small businesses, provided their owners know the advantages and disadvantages of each and plan their campaigns carefully.

Growth of Internet

growth of internet
Source: Internet Live Stat

Radio and Television Advertising


The advantage of advertising on TV and radio is to show millions of people the products and services of the small business. In particular, the advent of so many new cable television channels has made TV advertising accessible in terms of cost, even for small businesses.


The disadvantage is the production required to create something worthy of attention, and the cost of the ads.

Often there is no clear way to measure the success of the ad, such as the overall impact on the brand. Ads delivered through these media are a “scatter shot” approach which will be ignored by a large portion of the audience.

They are also a form of “interruption marketing” which many people find annoying and indeed avoid by changing the channel or leaving the room until their program is back on. The ads have no real staying power; they can only be seen or heard if they are repeatedly shown during a comprehensive ad campaign.

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Newspapers and Magazine Advertising


A well-written ad or sales letter can produce many sales in a very short period of time. Because they are printed, these ads tend to stay around longer than radio or TV ads and can be passed from one person to another.


The disadvantage is that the ads require a great deal of time and effort for layout and technical specifications. They can also be quite expensive.

Telemarketing, Direct Mail and Fax Blasts

All three of these can produce results if they are directed at a highly targeted audience. However, their results are not always measurable unless there is careful planning.

Direct mail, also known as junk mail, and also telemarketing are perceived negatively by many as being too aggressive in their tactics and dishonest.

Fax blasts can attract customers in a business setting but the ads can also often just end up in the trash. This method is very hated marketing funnel by the target audience.

Leaflets, Flyers and Billboards

These methods are the broadest and least expensive of the mass media options, but are difficult to quantify in terms of success. Leaflets and flyers can be kept for some period of time, or thrown away.

Billboards are often viewed by many, but it is hard to calculate how many people take action as a result of viewing them.

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Small Business Website

The key advertising tool for any company at the present time is their high quality own website, which should contain information about products and services and be easy to use.

The disadvantage is that many companies do not understand what it takes to have a useful website and will often spend a great deal of time, money and effort on a site that does not convert visitors into customers.

Driving too much traffic can ironically be a bad thing if it crashes an unprepared website.

Banner and space ads promote a company on other websites, usually through a special ad server, or through a banner network.

The cost can vary from low to high.

Ads can be targeted based on the nature of the audience of the site and the keywords searched for. However, banners are often perceived as annoying by users, or not even seen at all as a result of what is termed “banner blindness.”

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing such as Pay Per Click (PPC) are closely allied in that they rely on keywords to drive traffic to a corporate website through either organic search or the paid ads on the search engine’s results page.

They are the opposite of interruption marketing, and are rather termed contextual marketing because the visitor is already searching for what the site has to offer.

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The disadvantage of SEO and PPC is that not every small business has expert staff able to develop effective campaigns. SEO can add up as well in terms of time, PPC with time and cost with PPC.

Email Marketing


Email marketing is a cheap way to create a highly targeted list of potential customers interested in a particular niche topic.


The disadvantage is that it can be perceived negatively as ‘spam‘ and often goes unread or is undeliverable due to various email service provider filters.

Social Media, Forum and Blog Marketing


These online advertising methods are either free or very inexpensive. They can result in a great deal of traffic but this can be unpredictable.


These media are also difficult to keep track of in terms of results. There can be a steep learning curve for many people with regard to the technology required to use various sites and the message they would like to convey is not always received favorably.

In fact, negative comments can easily be posted on any website, damaging a brand before their staff even knows what happened.

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