Small Business Advertising 101

by Charlie Cook

Bob from Ottawa wrote to ask, “What is the most effective way to advertise locally at a friendly price. Thinking of postcards…”

Bob has an unusual small business. He paints murals on the walls of children’s bedrooms. While his occupation is unique, his question about the best way to spend advertising dollars is not. I regularly get the same query from realtors, executive recruiters, and other service professionals and small business owners. Whether you’ve got $500 or $15,000 dollars allocated for advertising, how should you spend it to attract new clients and customers?

The fact is this is not the right question – or, at least, not the first one to ask. Most people spend more time deliberating on where to spend their small business marketing dollars than they do on the key elements of a successful advertising campaign. The result is that many people tell me, “I’ve tried advertising and it doesn’t work.”

Use the following steps to make your marketing and advertising work for you and to build a campaign that generates more money than you spend.

1. Identify Your Advertising Goals
What role does advertising play in your plans to grow your small business?

– Is your advertising part of a short-term marketing effort or one part of your long-term marketing strategy?

– Do you want to generate leads?

– Do you want to use your advertising as a catalyst to building long-term client relationships?

– Do you want to generate one-time sales, for example, to move excess inventory?

2. Clarify Your Small Business Marketing Message
Whether you are considering print, media (cable, TV or radio) or Internet advertising, the key to success is getting the attention of the people who want your products and services. If your marketing message doesn’t grab your prospects’ attention, you’ve wasted a whole lot of money.

3. Prompt Action

Once you’ve got your prospects’ attention you want them to take action. Depending on your small business marketing goals, you may be looking for a quick sale or to build your prospect list. What is the action you want your ad to prompt?

– Do you want people to visit your web site?

– Do you want them to call you for an estimate or an appointment?

– Do you want them to come to your store?

– Do you want to get them to give you their contact information so you can market to them again and again?

So what advice did I give to Bob, the muralist? I told him to combine marketing and advertising and to clarify his marketing message to parents before spending money on his next ad. A one-line explanation of the problem he solves will ensure that his ads are noticed. Then I showed Bob how to prompt prospects to take action by showing samples of his work and offering a free guide to decorating children’s bedrooms on his web site. All this described in one or two concise sentences in his ad.

Given Bob’s business goals, small business marketing plan, and budget, postcards were an excellent way to deliver his marketing message. With an effective small business marketing message and strategy they would help him grow his business.

Make your advertising an integral part of your small business marketing strategy. Use a brilliant marketing message in your advertising. Give your prospects an incentive to take action and you’ll attract many more clients and find yourself earning more.

(VALUE: $200)
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