Advertising a Small Business

Edmond A. Bruneau, Owner
Creative Consultants
Spokane, Wash.

and author of the book, Prescription for Advertising.


A wise man once said, “The person who saves money by not
advertising is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” In
today’s fast-paced, high-tech age, businesses have to use some form
of advertising to make prospects aware of their products and

Even a famous company like Coca-Cola continually spends money
on advertising to support recognition of their products. In 1993,
Coca-Cola spent more than $150 million to keep its name in the
forefront of the public’s eye. So the question isn’t whether or not
you can afford to advertise, you simply must if you want your
business to succeed.

Some questions you should consider before buying ads are:

1. What media is the best to use?

2. How important is creativity?

3. Is there a way to buy space and time that will stretch my
advertising budget?

When it comes to advertising, a lot of people really don’t
know what they want, where to get it or what to do with it after
they have it. This publication will help you learn to determine
what type of advertising media is best for you, and learn to
identify guidelines you can use to obtain the advertising exposure
you need. It will help you identify ways to make your advertising
more cost efficient.

Advertising is an investment in your business’s future. And
like any investment, it’s important to find out as much as you can
before you make a decision. You’ll be able to use this publication
as a reliable reference tool often in the months and years to come.


Every advertising medium has characteristics that give it
natural advantages and limitations. As you look through your
newspaper(s), you’ll notice some businesses that advertise
regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their
products and services. More than likely, their advertising
investment is working if it’s selling!

Some Advantages in Newspaper Advertising

Almost every home in the United States receives a newspaper,
either by newsstand or home delivery. Reading the newspaper is a
habit for most families. And, there is something for everybody–
sports, comics, crosswords, news, classifieds, etc. You can reach
certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of
the paper. People expect advertising in the newspaper. In fact,
many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the
supermarket, movies or department stores.

Unlike advertising on TV and radio, advertising in the
newspaper can be examined at your leisure. A newspaper ad can
contain details, such as prices and telephone numbers or coupons.

There are many advantages to advertising in the newspaper.
From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper advertising can be
convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if
necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short
notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes
newspaper advertising offers. Even though you may not have a lot of
money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads,
without making a sacrifice.

Some Disadvantages with Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the newspaper offers many advantages, but it is
not without its inherent disadvantages, such as:

1. Newspapers usually are read once and stay in the house
for just a day.

2. The print quality of newspapers isn’t always the best,
especially for photographs. So use simple artwork and
line drawings for best results.

3. The page size of a newspaper is fairly large and small
ads can look minuscule.

4. Your ad has to compete with other ads for the reader’s

5. You’re not assured that every person who gets the
newspaper will read your ad. They may not read the
section you advertised in, or they may simply have
skipped the page because there wasn’t any interesting
news on it.

How Should I Work with my Newspaper Representative?

Every newspaper has its own sales staff, and you’re normally
appointed your personal newspaper “Sales Representative.” A
newspaper sales rep can be very helpful. He or she can keep you
posted on special sections or promotions that may apply to your
business, but always keep in mind it is the sales rep’s job to sell
you advertising.

Your sales rep might say that the newspaper can layout any of
your ads, pre-prepared or not. But these ads are assembly line
products and are not often very creative or eye-catching. Consider
using an artist or agency for your ads.

In addition, your sales rep can sometimes be instrumental in
making sure your story or upcoming announcement “finds” the right
reporter because the relationship between the advertising and
editorial staff is chummier than most people think, even though
they claim total anonymity.

Buying Newspaper Advertising Space

Since the Expanded Standard Advertising Unit System was
adopted back in 1984, it is now easier to buy advertising space in
newspapers. Advertising is sold by column and inch, instead of just
line rates. You can determine the size ad you want just by looking
in the newspaper in which you want to advertise. If you can’t
locate an ad that’s the size you want, just measure the columns
across and the inches down. For example, an ad that measures 3
columns across and 7 inches down would be a 21 inch ad. If the inch
rate is $45.67, your ad would cost $959.07. In case your newspaper
is still on the line rate system, remember there are 14 lines to an
inch. So, if the line rate is $3.75, multiply it by 14 and you will
have the cost of an inch rate. (the rate would be $45.50 an inch.)

Here are some other things to remember:

1. Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on
Sundays, which is also the day a newspaper is read most

2. Position is important, so specify in what section you
want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for
exact position…but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you
need it.

3. Request an outside position for ads that have coupons.
That makes them easier to cut out.

4. If a newspaper is delivered twice daily
(morning/evening), it often offers “combination” rates or
discounts for advertising in both papers, You usually can
reach more readers, so this kind of advertising may be
something to consider.

Other important tips to remember are:

* Before you advertise, have in mind a definite plan for
what it is you want to sell.

* Create short, descriptive copy for your ad. Include
prices if applicable. Consider using a copywriter or ask
your newspaper for free copy assistance.

* Face your products toward the inside of the ad. If the
product you want to use faces right, change your copy
layout to the left.

* Be sure to include your company name and logo, address
and telephone number in the ad.

* Neat, uncluttered and orderly ads encourage readership.
Don’t try to crowd everything you can in the layout
space. If the newspaper helps you with the layout, be
sure to request a proof of the final version so you can
approve it or make changes before it is printed.

Always make sure you are satisfied with what your advertising
says and how it looks before it goes to print.


Many of the same “print” type principles which apply to
newspaper advertising also apply to magazine advertising. The
biggest differences are:

* Magazines are usually weekly or monthly publications
instead of daily.

* Advertising messages are more image-oriented and less

* The quality of the pictures and paper are superior to

* Advertisements involve color more often.

The general rule that you can run the same ad 3-5 times within
a campaign period before its appeal lessens applies to magazine
advertising as well, even with a monthly publication. So it makes
sense to spend extra time and money to prepare a worthwhile ad that
can be successfully repeated.

Over long terms such as these, however, be aware that the
client (you) often tire of the ad before the audience does.

Because ads in magazines are not immediate, they take more
planning. Often, an ad for a monthly magazine must be prepared at
least a month in advance of publication, so ads detailing prices
and items have to be carefully crafted to insure accuracy.

Since the quality of the magazines are superior, the
advertising that you generate must be superior as well. Negatives
are usually required instead of prints or “PMTs” (photo-mechanical
transfers). Consider getting assistance from a graphic artist or an
advertising agency.

There are two categories of magazines: trade magazines and
consumer magazines. Trade magazines are publications that go to
certain types of businesses, services and industries. Consumer
magazines are generally the kind you find on the average news
stand. Investigate which type would do your business the most good.

An agency can also purchase the magazine space for you, often
at no charge, because the magazine pays the agency a commission
directly. If you wish to purchase the advertising yourself, contact
the magazine directly and ask for an “Ad Kit” or “Media Package.”
They will send you a folder that includes demographic information,
reach information, a current rate card and a sample of the

Although most magazines are national in nature, many have
regional advertising sections that allow your business to look like
it purchased a national ad when it only went to a certain
geographical area. This can be especially useful if your product
or service is regional in nature as well and could not benefit from
the magazine˛s complete readership. Each magazine does this
differently, so contact the one(s) you are interested in and ask
them about their geographic editions. Some sophisticated magazines
even have demographic editions available, which might also be


Since its inception, radio has become an integral part of
American culture. In some way, it touches the lives of almost
everyone, every day. Radio, as a medium, offers a form of
entertainment that attracts listeners while they are working,
traveling, relaxing or doing almost anything. A farmer, for
example, may listen to the radio while he is having breakfast or
plowing his field. People driving to work often listen to the
radio. Radio offers information such as: news, weather reports,
traffic conditions, advertising and music for your listening

What Are Some of the Good Things About Radio?

Radio is a relatively inexpensive way of reaching people. It
has often been called the “theater of the mind” because voices or
sounds can be used to create moods or images that if crested by
visual effects would be impossible to afford.

You can also negotiate rates for your commercials, or even
barter. Stations are often looking for prizes they can give away to
listeners, so it’s possible to get full commercial credit for the
product or service you offer.

Advantages to radio advertising include:

* The ability to easily change and update scripts are
paramount to radio broadcasting, since news stories can
and often do happen live.

* Radio is a personal advertising medium. Station
personalities have a good rapport with their listeners.
If a radio personality announces your commercial, it’s
almost an implied endorsement.

* Radio is also a way to support your printed advertising.
You can say in your commercial, “See our ad in the Sunday
Times,” which makes your message twice as effective.

What are Some Limitations to Radio Advertising?

Radio advertising is not without its disadvantages too, such

* You can’t review a radio commercial. Once it plays, it˛s
gone. If you didn’t catch all the message, you can’t go
back and hear it again.

* Since there are a lot of radio stations, the total
listening audience for any one station is just a piece of
a much larger whole. That’s why it’s important to know
what stations your customers and prospects probably
listen to. Therefore, most of the time, you’ll have to
buy time on several radio stations to reach the market
you are after.

* People don’t listen to the radio all the time…only
during certain times of day. So, it’s important to know
when your customers or prospects are listening. For
example, if you want to reach a large portion of your
audience by advertising during the morning farm report,
you’ll have to specify that time period to the radio
station when you buy the time.

One of the most popular times to reach people is during
Drive Times (from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) It’s
called that because most people are going to or from work during
this period, and because most people listen to their radio when
they drive. Unfortunately, radio stations know that this is a
favorite time to advertise, so commercial costs are much higher
during this time.

* Radio as a broadcasting medium, can effectively sell an
image…or one or two ideas at the most. It is not,
however, a detailed medium…and is a poor place for
prices and telephone numbers.

* Radio listeners increase in the spring and summer,
contrary to television audiences which increase in the
fall and winter and decrease in the summer. This is an
important aspect to consider when you are choosing
advertising media.

How Should I Buy Time on the Radio?

Like a newspaper, each radio station has its own advertising
staff. Each wants you to believe that their station is the absolute
best buy for your money…and many will go to great lengths to
prove it. But if you’ve done your research, or you are using an
advertising agency, you probably have a good idea of the station
you want to buy time on and when. If you don’t know which stations
you want to use, ask each station for its own research, that is,
the type of programming, musical format, geographic reach, number
of listeners and station ratings.

By getting the station ratings and the number of people it
reaches, you can figure out the cost-per-thousand people (CPM) by
simply dividing the cost of a commercial by the thousands of people
you are reaching.


Cost of commercial = $35.00
Audience reached = 45,000 people
Cost of commercial per 1000 people = 35/45 = $0.78 per 1000

Without getting complicated, here are two cardinal rules for
radio advertising:

1. It’s better to advertise when people are listening than
when they are not.

2. It’s better to bunch your commercials together than to
spread them apart.

A lot of radio sales reps will try to talk you out of
advertising during specific times. They’ll offer you a reduced rate
called TAP (Total Audience Plan) that splits your advertising time
into 1/3 drive, 1/3 mid-day and 1/3 night. This may sound like a
good deal, but airing commercials during times when your audience
isn’t listening is bad advertising. If however, you are sponsoring
a show such as Paul Harvey or the Morning Farm Report, it makes
sense to advertise once or twice a day on a regular basis, since
those programs have regular listenership. Frequency is a vital
element for effective radio advertising.

Since you can’t automatically recall the radio commercial and
hear it again, you may have to hear the same commercial two, four,
or maybe six times before the message sinks in. If you missed the
address the first time, you consciously or subconsciously are
hoping the commercial will be aired again so you can get the
information you need. That’s the way radio advertising works. And
that’s also the way you buy it.

Most of the time, radio advertising should be bought in
chunks. High frequency over a short period of time is much more
effective than low frequency over a longer period of time. It’s
important for your audience to hear your spot again to get more
information out of it. For example, if you wanted to advertise a
two week campaign and you could afford 42 radio commercials, the
following buy would serve you well: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and
Thursdays, place three spots between 7-9 a.m. and four spots
between 3-6 p.m. for two weeks. Notice that both day and hour
periods are concentrated.

By advertising in concentrated areas in tight day groups, you
seem larger than you really are. And people hearing your
concentrated campaign for two or three days will think you’re on
all the time. The radio sales reps may try to sell you three spots
everyday on the station for 14 days (a total of 42 spots). But
your campaign won’t be nearly as effective.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your commercials:

1. If you’re including your address in the commercial,
simplify it. Instead of “134525 East Pines,” say “at the
corner of First & Pines, next to Gumbies.” It’s easier to

2. Don’t use phone numbers in your commercial. If you have
to mention your phone number, refer to the Yellow Pages
in the local phone book.

3. Radio works better when you combine it with other
advertising media.

4. Check out the price differences between 60-second and
30-second commercials. Normally, 30-second commercials
are only 1/3 less than 60’s, which makes a 60-second
commercial a better buy.

5. Be creative with your radio advertising, too. If it
sounds like all the rest of the commercials, it won’t
stand out. Your message won’t be heard nearly as well.
Advertising agencies are usually quite good at producing
creative radio commercials.

If you decide to write your own radio scripts, remember these
basic copy writing rules:

* Get your listener’s attention immediately.

* Write in conversational style.

* Avoid using buzz words or jargon.

* Repeat your important points.

* Make your ending strong and positive with call-to-action
for response.


Television is often called “king” of the advertising media,
since a majority of people spend more hours watching TV per day
than any other medium. It combines the use of sight, color, sound
and motion…and it works. TV has proven its persuasive power in
influencing human behavior time and time again. But it’s also the
“king” of advertising costs.

Advantages in Television Advertising

Television reaches very large audiences-audiences that are
usually larger than the audience your city’s newspaper reaches. The
area that a television station’s broadcast signal covers is called
A.D.I., which stands for “Area of Dominant Influence.”

Some advantages of television advertising include the

1. Advertising on television can give a product or service
instant validity and prominence.

2. You can easily reach the audiences you have targeted by
advertising on TV. Children can be reached during cartoon
programming, farmers during the morning agricultural
reports and housewives during the afternoon soap operas.
A special documentary on energy sources for heating homes
and business will also attract viewers interested in
heating alternatives.

3. TV offers the greatest possibility for creative
advertising. With a camera, you can take your audience
anywhere and show them almost anything.

4. Since there are fewer television stations than radio
stations in a given area, each TV audience is divided
into much larger segments, which enables you to reach a
larger, yet, more diverse audience.

Disadvantages in Television Advertising

Because TV has such a larger A.D.I., the stations can charge
more for commercials based on the larger number of viewers reached.
The cost of television commercial time is based on two variables:

1. The number of viewers who watch the program.

2. The time during the day the program airs.

One 30 second television commercial during prime time viewing
(8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) can cost 10 to 30 times more than one radio
spot during drive time (which is considered prime listening time).

While the newspaper may cover the city’s general metropolitan
area, TV may cover a good portion of the state where you live. If
such a coverage blankets most of your sales territory, TV
advertising may be the best advertising alternative for your

Producing a commercial is also an important variable to
consider. On the whole, television audiences have become more
sophisticated and have come to expect quality commercials. A poorly
produced commercial could severely limit the effectiveness of your
message, and may even create a bad image in your customer’s mind.

Advertising agencies or TV commercial production facilities
are the best organizations for creating a commercial that will be
effective for the goods or service you are offering. But the cost
of a well-produced commercial is often more expensive than people
think. Some TV stations will claim they can put together
commercials for “almost nothing.” Before agreeing to this, find out
what “almost nothing” means. Then, determine if the commercial
quality and content they are proposing will represent your firm’s

Many companies use the station’s commercial production
facilities for creating “tag lines” on pre-produced commercials.
Often, the station will help you personalize the spot for little or
no cost…if you advertise with them. Remember, more than anything
else, when it comes to making a TV commercial, you get what you pay
for. And when you’re buying commercial time for one 30-second TV
spot costing from $600 to $1,200, it makes sense to have the best
sales presentation possible.

Remember, like radio, the message comes and goes…and that’s
it. The viewer doesn’t see your commercial again unless you buy
more placements.

Creativity: A Vital Element

When you advertise on TV, your commercial is not only
competing with other commercials, it’s also competing with the
other elements in the viewer’s environment as well.

The viewer may choose to get a snack during the commercial
break, go to the bathroom or have a conversation about what they
just saw on the show they were viewing. Even if your commercial is
being aired, viewers may never see it unless it is creative enough
to capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to
consider the kind of commercial you are going to create…and how
you want your audience to be affected. Spending money on a good
commercial in the beginning will pay dividends in the end.

Don’t Use TV Unless Your Budget Allows

Attempting to use TV advertising by using a poorly-produced
commercial; buying inexpensive late night commercial time that few
people watch; or just placing your commercial a couple times on the
air will guarantee disappointing results. To obtain positive
results from TV advertising you must have enough money in your
budget to:

1. Pay for the cost of producing a good TV commercial (today
costs range from $2,500 to $20,000 and above).

2. Pay for effective commercial time that will reach your
viewer at least 5-7 times.

Properly done, television advertising is the most effective
medium there is. But it is big league advertising…and you
shouldn’t attempt it unless you have enough money in your budget to
do it right.

If you’re still attracted to TV, it’s a good idea to call in
an advertising agency for production and media buying estimates.
Then, figure out what sales results you can expect. With such data,
you should be able to reach a logical advertising decision.

Buying Television Advertising Time

There are many things to know and consider before buying a TV
programming schedule. That’s why, in most cases, using an
advertising agency or a media buying service is recommended when
advertising on TV. If these services are unavailable, find a TV
representative that you can trust. Your agency or representative
can help you select the programs you should advertise on in order
to reach your market. Also, ask about “fringe” time, adjacencies
and package plans.

When you are engineering your schedule, remember that
repetition (or frequency) is a very important ingredient to use.
Make sure your audience sees your commercial with the context of
the programs you’re buying. Ask for a commercial affidavit.
Normally, it doesn’t cost any more and the station will provide you
with a list of the exact times your commercial was run.

Other Considerations

For an effective and inexpensive way to get your message on
the TV screen, consider using pre-prepared TV commercials that may
be available to you through a manufacture or distributor you deal
with. You can add your name and logo to the end of the commercial
for little or no cost. Look at cooperative advertising too. Many
companies offer prepared advertising materials you can use and at
the same time may pay for a portion of the advertising schedule.


Cable advertising is a lower cost alternative to advertising
on broadcast television. It has many of the same qualities as
broadcast television, and in fact, since it offers more
programming, it’s even easier to reach a designated audience.

The trouble with cable is it doesn’t reach everyone in the
market area, since the signal has to be wired instead of broadcast,
and also because not everyone subscribes to cable.

If cable does reach a large part of your market, have an
advertising agency investigate its cost or call the cable company’s
advertising sales department. Chances are the commercial time will
be 10 to 20 percent of the costs of regular broadcast time.


Telephone book advertising is another way to reach your
market area. It allows you to place your business listing or ad in
selected classifications within the book, with the theory being
that when people need your product or service, they look up the
classification and contact you.

Much of the “sell” copy for a product or service, therefore,
does not have to be in your ad content, since the people who have
looked up your classification are already in the market to buy.
The thing to be aware of when you write the ad is the other firms’
ads within your classification. In other words, why should the
reader select your firm over your competition? That is the crucial
question — and your ad should provide the answer.

Telephone Yellow Pages salespeople often employ the technique
of selling as large of ad as they can to one company, then showing
the other companies in the same classification what the one company
is doing so that they can match it or beat it. This is not the
best criteria for determining ad size, but is definitely good for
the ad salesperson.

To determine the size you should use, consider the following:

* Your ad should be large enough to incorporate the vital
information the reader needs to make a contact decision
(as mentioned above).

* Remember your lessons in print advertising. Keep your ad
clean, creative and eye-appealing. Even though the phone
company will “design your ad for free,” some firms employ
graphic artists and advertising agencies to create a
Yellow Pages ad that really stands out.

* Give yourself a budget to work with. Figure out how much
you want to spend on Yellow Pages advertising for the
entire year, then divide it by 12. That will give you
the payment that is automatically attached to your phone
bill every month.

Do something unique or different. If no one else is using
color, use color. Even shades of gray can make an ad look better
and more appealing.

Advantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

* One ad works all year long.

* Gives your prospect a method of easily locating and
contacting your business, even if they didn’t initially
know your name.

* Can help you describe the differences between you and
your competition.

* You pay by the month instead of one large payment.

Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

* You must commit to an entire year of advertising.

* You are immediately placed with a group of your
competitors, making it easy for the prospect to
comparison shop.

* Some classifications are so cluttered with advertising,
your ad is buried and ineffective.

* It is only effective when a prospect looks you up in the
correct classification, assuming the prospect knows what
classification to look for in the first place.

If you require more than one classification, your Yellow Pages
representative often has packages and programs that can save you
some money. In addition, the same is often true if you need to be
advertising in more than one city or market.

Yellow Pages advertising is an important medium to consider in
our fast-paced, information-hungry society. People really do let
their “fingers do the walking” instead of driving around blindly.
Make sure your Yellow Pages ad is attractive and informative enough
to be the one or two businesses the prospect actually does select
to call. And then make sure you have the resources to deal with
the inquiry. After all, there is nothing more annoying than being
put “on-hold” by a busy checker or being served by an uninterested
or unknowledgeable employee.


When people think of Outdoor Advertising, they usually think
of the colorful billboards along our streets and highways.
Included in the “outdoor” classification, however, are benches,
posters, signs and transit advertising (the advertising on buses,
subways, taxicabs and trains). They are all share similar
advertising rules and methods.

Outdoor advertising reaches its audience as an element of the
environment. Unlike newspaper, radio or TV, it doesn’t have to be
invited into the home. And it doesn’t provide entertainment to
sustain its audience.

Some Outdoor Advantages

* Since it is in the public domain, Outdoor Advertising
assuredly reaches its audience. People can’t “switch it
off” or “throw it out.” People are exposed to it whether
they like it or not. In this sense, outdoor advertising
truly has a “captured audience.”

* It’s messages work on the advertising principle of
“frequency.” Since most messages stay in the same place
for a period of a month or more, people who drive by or
walk past see the same message a number of times.

* Particular locations can be acquired for certain
purposes. A billboard located a block in front of your
business can direct people to your showroom. Or you can
reach rural areas efficiently by placing a billboard in
each small town.

* Outdoor advertising is an excellent adjunct to other
types of advertising you are doing. In fact, it is most
effective when coupled with other media.

Some Outdoor Disadvantages

* Outdoor advertising is a glance medium. At best, it only
draws 2-3 seconds of a reader’s time.

* Messages must be brief to fit in that 2-3 second time
frame. Ninety-five percent of the time, either the
message or the audience is in motion.

* The nature of the way you have to buy outdoor advertising
(usually a three month commitment) is not conducive to a
very short, week-long campaign.

When you buy outdoor advertising, remember that location is
everything. High traffic areas are ideal. A billboard in an
undesirable area will do you little good. Keep your message
concise (use only five to seven words) and make it creatively
appealing to attract readership. Few words, large illustrations
(or photos), bold colors and simple backgrounds will create the
most effective outdoor advertising messages.


What makes “direct” mail different than regular mail?
Nothing. It’s just a way the advertising world describes a
promotional message that circumvents traditional media (newspaper,
radio, TV) and appeals directly to an individual consumer. Usually
through the mail, but other carriers also participate.

Direct mail may be used more than you think. Studies indicate
that it is the third largest media expenditure behind television
and newspaper.

Rules to Remember

* Define your audience. Figure out who you want to reach
before developing your direct mail program. This allows
you to specifically target your message to fit common
needs. It is the best advertising medium for “tailoring”
your appeal.

* Locate the right mailing list. You can either build a
“house list” by doing the research yourself and compiling
the information on a computer ˛ or you can purchase an
“outside list” from a list house or mailing organization
already pre-prepared and ready to go.

* There are many ways to purchase lists. You can buy them
demographically (by age, profession, habits or business),
or geographically (by location, state and zip code). Or
you can by a list with both qualities. More than likely,
there is a mailing list company in your area that would
happy to consult with you on your needs. If not, there
are a number of national mailing lists available. On the
average, you should pay between 4 to 5 cents a name.

* For assembly, addressing and mailing your project, you
also have the choice of doing it yourself or locating a
mailing service company to do it for you. As the numbers
of your direct mail pieces increase, the more practical
it is for you to enlist such an organization for
assistance. They also are very good at getting you the
lowest postal rates.

* Consider using a self-addressed reply card or envelope to
strengthen return. Use a Business Reply Postage Number
on the envelope and you’ll only pay for the cards which
are sent back to you.

The blessing (or curse) of direct mail is that there are no
set rules for form or content. The task of deciding what your
mailing should have as content, its design and its message(s) is up
to you. However, remember to attract the reader’s attention with
color and creativity. Use clear, comfortable writing and make your
appeal easy to respond.

And of course, coordinate the mailing with other advertising
media if you are also using them in the same campaign. It can
significantly increase the potential return.


“Giveaways” — the pencils, pens, buttons, calendars and
refrigerator magnets you see everyday — are called “Specialty
Advertising” in the advertising business.

Chances are, you have some specialty advertising items right
at your desk. Businesses imprint their name on items and give them
away (or sometimes sell them at very low cost) in order that:

* You notice their name enough times on the item to build
“top-of-the-mind” awareness. So when you need a
restaurant, for instance, you think of their name first.

* You appreciate the goodwill of the company giving you the
item and eventually return the favor by giving them some

These are both long-term advertising investments that can take
months or years to turn into actual sales.

First, select the best item that would tell your story most
effectively. While an accountant can give away an inexpensive
calculator, the same item may not be ideal for a hairdresser. A
comb or brush might be more appropriate in that case.

Second, decide what you are going to say on the item. A
company slogan? Address directions? Since you have a relatively
small area, you must be very concise and direct.

Third, figure out your method of distribution. Are you going
to send them to each customer through the mail? If so, how much
will that cost? Will you have them in a big bowl that says “take
one”? Distribution is just as important to consider as buying the

Just as there are many reputable specialty advertising
professionals in your area, the industry is notorious with a lot of
high-pressure telephone and mail solicitors who often give
specialty advertising a bad name. Don’t buy specialty advertising
through the mail without checking the quality and prices with
trusted local representatives first. And, buying specialty
advertising over the telephone is not recommended at all.

Specialty advertising is a unique way to generate goodwill and
put your name on items that people remember. But don’t do it
unless you have an item and distribution plan that will benefit
your business.


There is no one — sure-fire — best way to advertise your
product or service. It is important to explore the various
advertising media and select those which will most effectively
convey your message to your customers in a cost-efficient manner.

Always remember, advertising is an investment in the future of
your business.


U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA offers an extensive selection of information on most
business management topics, from how to start a business to
exporting your products.

This information is listed in The Small Business Directory. For a
free copy contact your nearest SBA office.

SBA has offices throughout the country. Consult the U.S. Government
section in your telephone directory for the office nearest you. SBA
offers a number of programs and services, including training and
educational programs, counseling services, financial programs and
contract assistance. Ask about

* Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national
organization sponsored by SBA of over 13,000 volunteer
business executives who provide free counseling,
workshops and seminars to prospective and existing small
business people.

* Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), sponsored by
the SBA in partnership with state and local governments,
the educational community and the private sector. They
provide assistance, counseling and training to
prospective and existing business people.

* Small Business Institutes (SBIs),organized through SBA on
more than 500 college campuses nationwide. The institutes
provide counseling by students and faculty to small
business clients.

For more information about SBA business development programs and
services call the SBA Small Business Answer Desk at 1-800-U-ASK-SBA

Other U.S. Government Resources

Many publications on business management and other related topics
are available from the Government Printing Office (GPO). GPO
bookstores are located in 24 major cities and are listed in the
Yellow Pages under the bookstore heading. You can request a Subject
Bibliography by writing to Government Printing Office,
Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402-9328.

Many federal agencies offer publications of interest to small
businesses. There is a nominal fee for some, but most are free.
Below is a selected list of government agencies that provide
publications and other services targeted to small businesses. To
get their publications, contact the regional offices listed in the
telephone directory or write to the addresses below:

Consumer Information Center (CIC)
P.O. Box 100
Pueblo, CO 81002
The CIC offers a consumer information catalog of federal

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Publications Request
Washington, DC 20207
The CPSC offers guidelines for product safety requirements.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
The USDA offers publications on selling to the USDA. Publications
and programs on entrepreneurship are also available through county
extension offices nationwide.

U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
Office of Business Liaison
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 5898C
Washington, DC 20230
DOC’s Business Assistance Center provides listings of business
opportunities available in the federal government. This service
also will refer businesses to different programs and services in
the DOC and other federal agencies.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Public Health Service
Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Drug Free Workplace Helpline: 1-800-843-4971. Provides information
on Employee Assistance Programs.National Institute for Drug Abuse
Hotline: 1-800-662-4357. Provides information on preventing
substance abuse in the workplace.The National Clearinghouse for
Alcohol and Drug Information: 1-800-729-6686 toll-free. Provides
pamphlets and resource materials on substance abuse.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Employment Standards Administration
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
The DOL offers publications on compliance with labor laws.

U.S. Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
P.O. Box 25866
Richmond, VA 23260
The IRS offers information on tax requirements for small

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Small Business Ombudsman
401 M Street, SW (A-149C)
Washington, DC 20460
1-800-368-5888 except DC and VA
703-557-1938 in DC and VA
The EPA offers more than 100 publications designed to help small
businesses understand how they can comply with EPA regulations.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
200 Charles Street, SW
Washington, DC 20402
The FDA offers information on packaging and labeling requirements
for food and food-related products.

For More Information

A librarian can help you locate the specific information you need
in reference books. Most libraries have a variety of directories,
indexes and encyclopedias that cover many business topics. They
also have other resources, such as

* Trade association information
Ask the librarian to show you a directory of trade
associations. Associations provide a valuable network of
resources to their members through publications and
services such as newsletters, conferences and seminars.

* Books
Many guidebooks, textbooks and manuals on small business
are published annually. To find the names of books not in
your local library check Books In Print, a directory of
books currently available from publishers.

Magazine and newspaper articles
Business and professional magazines provide information
that is more current than that found in books and
textbooks. There are a number of indexes to help you find
specific articles in periodicals.

In addition to books and magazines, many libraries offer free
workshops, lend skill-building tapes and have catalogues and
brochures describing continuing education opportunities.

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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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