How to Avoid Failure in Your Small Business Advertising

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Small business advertising shouldn't be done like most of the advertising you see on T.V. ... or hear on the radio. There ARE exceptions, of course. But for the most part, small businesses shouldn't do much of the following:

1) Institutional advertising (a.k.a. "Madison Avenue" type advertising).

2) Public relations or simply publicity seeking.

3) Any type of response advertising that's non-measurable.

The kind of advertising you SHOULD be doing is measurable. By this I mean you can ...

a) ... control costs.

b) ... measure results.

Small business advertising that doesn't fit these criteria is mostly like throwing money down a hole. (Like I said, there are exceptions. But if you try to promote your business using public relations you'd better have a business that can benefit from that get the help of a professional who specializes in it.)

Institutional ... Madison Avenue type stuff ... doesn't work in small business advertising any more than it effectively works for big companies using it. It's just that big companies typically have big budgets they can spend on bad advertising without going under financially.

That's a luxury most of us don't have.

Direct marketing is different. You can control its costs. Taylor it to your ad budget. And measure its effectiveness based on response to the offer in the ad or sales letter.

Examples of response triggers used in effective small business advertising include:

* Phone calls asking for a direct response ... like a sales appointment ... or a purchase ... or an invitation to come into the store with a certain customer "code" one can use to receive a gift or purchase discount.

* A TV or radio commercial that asks for a direct response ... like having the customer write or call in and tell what station they heard the ad on to get a free gift or special discount.

* Any type of media that asks for a direct response ... like redeemable coupons sent through the mail ... a sales letter send through the post or Email, with an invitation attached for a special "after hours" sale ... a postcard offering a 2 for 1 restaurant special ... or an invitation to call in and ask for free information.

Your small business advertising is going to be very wasteful unless you make the right offers to the right people. Being in tune with the needs, desires and motivations of your potential customers is crucial.

For example ... if Jack's Sporting Goods store advertises a 30% discount sale on all golf equipment by sending 5,000 brochures through the mail to nearby residents the waste-factor is going to be extremely high.

After all, how many of those residents are golfers? Probably only a small percentage. And of those who are golfers, how many of them will come in for Jack's sale?

In this case, most of his small business advertising dollars are wasted.

However ... if Jack takes that same offer ... and sends it directly to 500 golfers in his area the response will be much higher. He's able to get the names and addresses of likely golfers from a list broker by renting the names of people in his area who receive golf magazines.

See the difference?

Jack doesn't even have to mail out all 500 letters at once. If his budget is a little tight, he can stagger his mailing over a period of days. Or even limit the sale to those bringing in a coupon received through his mailing to test the effectiveness of his direct mail campaign.

Any small business advertising failing to ...

* offer a free gift(s)

* give a time limit on the offer so buyers will be motivated to act quickly

* award a bonus or premium of some sort just for coming into the store

* present a sale or discounted pricing

* announce something new (i.e., product, service, price)

... should be avoided. As a matter of fact ... the more of these elements in your advertising the better.

An ad containing each of the above ingredients ... targeting prospects known to be interested in the product/service... stands a very good chance of being a winner.

Your small business advertising doesn't have to fail. Once you learn the key ingredients you'll never again worry about throwing advertising dollars away.