How the Service Industry Markets Big With Small Dollars

If you’re a fan of AMC’s hit drama “Mad Men,” you might have an understanding of how the balance of power worked for advertising in the ’60s. The biggest companies with the deepest marketing budgets ruled the advertising space across all mediums. Because that space — television, radio, print — was controlled by so few, Main Street just couldn’t possibly compete with Wall Street.

Today, however, businesses have far more tools at their disposal. Not only do these tools give smaller businesses more access to a broader audience, but the methods are infinitely more affordable, as well.

1.) Instagram visualizes your menu

I follow some of my favorite restaurants on Instagram because of the excellent shots they publish from their kitchen. Restaurants, pubs and bars, are taking advantage of this free platform to help customers, and potential customers visualize their menu.

If you work in the food industry, always be snapping pictures of your specials and new dishes to draw patrons through the front door.

2.) Advertise in your own space

Even if, your establishment isn’t a sports bar, you probably have several TV’s propped up around the bar and even by some tables and booths. A new trend in advertising is the rebirth of “a captive audience advertising,” which is essentially an ad that can’t be avoided. A common example of this is ads that run on the screen before a movie in the theater. The audience isn’t going to look at the ground while it’s running, so they’re guaranteed to see it.

Most likely the TV runs sports at night, but try dedicating one or two to running ads about your specials and new items on the menu. The ads cost nothing and can entice customers to order new items. If you don’t have TV’s inside your business, it’s something worth considering. Cable packages that run sporting events start around $30 a month and flat-screen TV’s are highly affordable when purchased in bulk, according to

3.) Get involved with others

Are you a restaurant owner? Write guest posts for food blogs. Do you run the marketing for a pub? Get involved with local small business sites and forums to discuss what’s going on in the community. The purpose of this isn’t to advertise or name-drop your business, but simply to contribute and make your name known amongst your industry. This will get you more word-of-mouth business, and the people that you’re helping will likely reciprocate.

4.) Search optimization

Google rankings will be your best friend when dealing with local competition. The great thing about SEO is that tip number three lends itself to tip number four. When guest posting and contributing on the web, link back to your own website to give it a better ranking. You don’t have to be obvious and name-drop every opportunity you get, just link back when the time is right.

Also, create “microsites” to speak to different areas of your business. We discussed earlier how microsites are good for your company as a whole, and they will also serve you well for SEO purposes.

Image courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr.