Advertising in a Nutshell

The bottom line of all advertising efforts is
an obvious one: to attract customers and bol-
ster sales. But often small business adver-
tising is wasted on a shotgun approach that
doesn’t focus on the company’s best prospects
– those who are ready, willing and able to pur-
chase the product or service. In an attempt
to reach “everybody,” these advertisers either
miss their true market or spend far more than
necessary to reach it.

Once you’ve targeted your market, and
know exactly who and where your prospects are,
it’s important to clearly identify what you
want your advertising to accomplish. Speci-
fic advertising objectives include:

* Creating new customers.
* Increasing usage.
* Increasing order size.
* Promoting replacement of functional but out-
dated products with technologically superior
* Improving brand name recognition.
* Generating customer inquiries.
* Creating sales leads through the use of re-
sponse ads, coupons or toll-free “800” numbers.
* Promoting special events such as sales, busi-
ness openings or the introduction of new pro-
ducts or services.
* Enhancing the overall image of the business.

Generally, the most effective ads focus on
customer needs or wants, and emphasize the most
desirable benefits of the product or service,
such as convenience, style or durability. Other
tactics include comparisons with competitive
products, two-for-one sales, special one-day
discounts, and offers of free information.

The tactics you choose in your advertising
will help determine the media you select and the
exact message you communicate. One of the best
ways to become familiar with the tactics in your
field is to collect your competitors’ advertis-
ing materials and use them to stimulate your

The most important things to take into con-
sideration in any ad are the audience and the
offer. Who is the ad trying to reach? If the
ad isn’t presented to the right audience and ad-
dressed to them in their own language, then it
isn’t going to get noticed. And if the offer
isn’t something that interests them and gets them
excited, then they’re not going to take any ac-
tion even if they do notice it.

Finally, make it easy for customers to re-
spond to your ad. Tell them what action to take
and include (depending on the advertising medium)
coupons, an “800” number or business reply en-
velopes. And be sure to stand behind what you

Deciding Where to Advertise

The mediums in which you choose to advertise
will depend on the audience you’re trying to
reach, the geographical range of your busi-
ness, where your product or service can be
most effectively presented, and your budget.
In deciding where to advertise, keep the fol-
lowing considerations in mind:

* When and how often your message needs to be
* How effectively the medium communicates your
main selling points. Make sure any medium
you choose allows you to present all the in-
formation customers need to make a buying de-
cision or to request additional information.
* How much a particular medium costs, relative
to the number of people it reaches.
* How many of the people seeing the ad fall
within your target customer group. Getting
your message in front of those who are in-
terested in what you have to sell is pivotal
to advertising success.

A final point is that advertising does not
need to be brilliant or highly creative to be
effective. The secret of successful advertising
lies in its continuity – sending an informative,
consistent message over time that motivates ex-
isting customers and prospects to turn to you
when they are ready to buy.


“Most entrepreneurs think that if they have a
good product, people will buy it. They don’t
understand that promoting their business is
key,” advises restauranteur Adolf Dulan, co-
owner with his wife Mary of Aunt Kizzy’s Back
Porch in Marina del Rey, California. “This
does not mean just putting flyers on wind-
shields, however. You need to be more sophis-
ticated.” The Dulans decided to specialize in
“authentic American home-style food and tradi-
tional Southern hospitality” after being in
the fast-food business for 10 years. “We saw
the trend towards healthier eating styles,” he
recalls. In addition to advertising in a local
newspaper (“as most restaurant clientele comes
from a three to five mile radius”), the Dulans
give each customer a hand-out that details
their 18-year relationship and working partner-
ship, and the restaurant’s colorful history.
“This hand-out has made Aunt Kizzy’s interna-
tionally known,” says Dulan, who admits that
word-of-mouth advertising from customers has
been their strongest promotional tool of all.

About author

SMB Reviews
SMB Reviews 473 posts

SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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