When I open the local newspaper, I cringe. More small businesses have wasted their precious dollars on do-nothing advertising. “Why do they bother”, I ask myself. I know they think their tiny little ad will somehow open the flood gates to new business for them. I also know it never does.
So, I repeat: How can small business advertise more effectively? I’ve written about this before. and I risk repeating myself, but I thought a quick Q&A process might be more helpful for small business owners in making their advertising more effective. Just so you know, these advertising tips aren’t just for traditional advertising vehicles like newspapers or radio stations. They also apply to advertising you do online, be it Facebook, banner ads or whatever.
Q1. What is your purpose in advertising? What do you want to have happen?
To be effective, advertising needs to have an objective. Otherwise, one can’t come up with a headline or copy to meet the objective. If you want people to storm your store, you need to give them a reason to storm your store. Do you want people to call you, then give them a compelling reason to pick-up the phone. Can that reason be something other than 75% off? Absolutely. For now, nail down your objective.
Q2. What is your message? What can you offer that will cut through all the clutter and get your audience’s attention?
Forget the discounts. Everyone gives boring discounts. Give them something of ‘value’. Give a free make-over, a free consultation. make it over-the-top. Create a contest and the best entry wins a free iPad or a trip to Hawaii. Make your offer something that really, really stands out and that sets you apart from your competition.
Q3. Is this newspaper, radio station or website, the right vehicle to reach my customers?
How do you know? Ask to review the demographics of the media and compare them to what you already know about your customers. You do have a profile of your ideal customers, right?
Zero-in on the demographics of particular sections of the newspaper and particular radio programs. Find out which days of the week or time slots are the best for readership. If your audience reads or listens to this vehicle, great. If not, forget it and move on to find one that is consumed by your audience. Consider advertising your offer online as well as offline.
Q4. What are you going to say in your ad?
This is the area that stops a lot of small business people in their tracks. You don’t
have to be a creative genus to put together an effective ad. Follow this framework…
a. Here is what I am offering. Just tell them in the simplest way possible.
b. Here is what it (what I’m offering) will do for you. Don’t sell them the saw. Sell them on the beautiful round hole the saw will make.
c. Here is what I want you to do next. Tell them exactly what they need to do to. Give them an easy to implement call-to-action.
Q5. How often are you going to run the ad and how big are you going to make it?
Frequency and size are other areas where small business owners drop the ball. You can’t run a small one inch ad one time in the Sunday newspaper and expect it to work like flipping a switch. This is why professional ad agencies talk about advertising “campaigns” and not single “ads”. You have to run the ad with enough frequency to stimulate action and the ad needs to be big enough to draw attention.
The right frequency will depend upon your offer, the audience and the media. But remember the rule of thumb, which is people need at least 7 exposures before they will take some action. So, don’t think in terms of one or three exposures. Think in terms of 4 or 5 exposures over a two or three week period.
If you can’t afford this level of frequency, then wait until you can. There is no sense in wasting your precious dollars advertising a great idea, only not to give it enough exposure.
Q6. How will you know if the ad worked?
Knowledge isn’t the same as guessing. You HAVE to measure the results to KNOW if the advertising did it’s job. You’ve invested good money to run the ad. The least you should do is to measure the results. So, put a measurement in place. Ask those who call or who visit your store how they found out about your offer. Have a code in your ad or a coupon that people have to present in order to get your freebie and track the codes or coupons.
That’s it. Follow this framework and your advertising will not only improve but it will start working for your business.
Do you have any tips to share with other small business owners about how you’re making your advertising work? If so, share those tips in the comments section below. Or let me know if these tips help make your advertising more effective.