When it comes to marketing their business, most small business owners rely on newspaper advertising as the main way of pulling in the customers. It's such an accepted thing to do that many small business owners are surprised when they find it doesn't actually work too well. They spend money, but don't get much, if anything, back in return. The thing they don't realise is the advertising isn't working NOT because advertising doesn't work as a medium, but that the advertising is being done in the wrong way. Most business owners copy advertising techniques from other businesses, and those businesses are copying from them, so everything goes round in one big ineffective circle.
Successful small business advertising
It is a fact though, small business advertising does work very well, but only if you do it in the right way and use the right techniques. And here is how to get it right and make sure your advertising is doing a good job.
First, make sure you test and track every single piece of advertising you do. That way you'll be able to see exactly which pieces of advertising bring in the money. If any of your advertising is not bringing in money, stop it immediately. It's just wasting money, and your time. The fact is, every single ad you run should get you a return, and if it isn't you should stop it immediately.
Take aim carefully
One of the best things you can learn is the importance of targeted advertising. Just because an ad is seen by hundreds of thousands of people doesn't mean it's a great way to advertise. For many small businesses, the local newspaper is a good medium, but for things like business-to-business advertising it can be useless. For instance, I once spoke with a business owner who was perplexed that her ad in the local paper had "not received a single response". After learning a bit about her business, I could see why. Her service was aimed at a small group of prospects, and most of the people reading the local newspaper wouldn't have had the slightest interest in it. Much better in her case would have been an ad in a specialist magazine or one placed on a specialist website or forum. The circulation might have been smaller, but it would have been far more effective.
Learn the basics of successful advertising
Most ads you see are completely useless at generating response because they use "branding", which usually means a pretty picture with a slogan. This is the type of advertising used by the big companies, and so small business owners follow it just because they think it must be right, when actually it usually doesn't work at all.
The solution is simple, though, and that's to follow a simple formula for writing your ads. Forget the idea that people won't read ads with lots of words. People read the newspaper articles, and they'll read your ad if you make it interesting. The way to make sure people read your ad is to put a headline on it, just like a newspaper article. The best headlines tell the reader exactly what you offer.
In the ad itself you should do four things:
Tell them what you have to sell. Choose one thing you sell and advertise that. Don't make general offers or tell them about your business. Choose a product, and tell them all about that one thing.
Tell them what the product does. Explain what the product does in detail and why it's such a good thing to have.
Tell them why you think they should buy it. Tell them all about the benefits of what you're selling. Tell them what it does in simple terms and why their life will be better once they have it.
Tell them what to do. Give them clear instructions on how to get the thing you're selling. Tell them to come into the store by a certain date. Or tell them to pick up the phone, or visit a website. Whatever you do, don't leave them wondering how to order your stuff.
The conclusion you can take away from all this is that small business advertising works very well, if it's done in the right way. The good news is that most business owners can't be bothered to learn how to do it properly, and so those that do can wipe the floor with the competition. Even better, learning how to market yourself is not difficult. All it needs is the decision to do it, and then put it into action.