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Advertising Effectively

I recently read a great quote that explains a lot about small business success. Dr. William Scholl was a podiatrist who spent his entire life trying to make people's feet more comfortable. During the course of his career, Dr. Scholl was awarded over 300 patents for his various foot–related inventions, and sold millions of his "Dr. Scholl's inserts." This was a man who knew a thing or two about business success. His motto? "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise."

Too often, a business either fails to advertise sufficiently, or its advertising is wasted on a scattershot approach that fails to focus on the business' best prospects — the people who are ready, willing and able to purchase its product or service. Instead of targeting marketing to a specific audience, these companies target a mass audience in an attempt to reach everybody. Often, they reach nobody.

The way to avoid this unenviable fate is really quite simple. You must, before anything else, define your target market. You have to decide things such as:

  • Who your customers are;
  • How old they are;
  • What sex they are;
  • What they like to do, watch and read;
  • What they would want from you; and
  • What catches their eye.

Once you have answered these questions, picking the vehicle to deliver your message to that market becomes much easier. For example, if you were selling skateboards, advertising on an oldies radio station would not make sense, while advertising on an alternative rock station would be appropriate. Knowing your audience up front will answer many of your questions and save you from some costly mistakes.

Your advertising options:
  • Newspapers are an inexpensive way to reach a large audience. They are good for promoting a sale or a special deal on your product or service. Newspapers carry a lot of ads, however, so there is a risk that yours may get lost in the clutter.

  • Magazines offer a slightly better opportunity to catch a reader's attention than newspapers, but the ads typically cost more. Magazines are good for promoting your business' image and building its credibility. Trade magazines and general business publications are good for business–to–business advertising.

  • Radio is a fairly low–cost, high–impact choice and is one of the best ways to reach a targeted market. Repetition (i.e. mentioning the product or service name repeatedly) is especially important in radio advertising.

  • Television advertising is extremely high–impact, but it is expensive. Local cable channels are more affordable, but are seen by far fewer people.

  • Yellow Page advertising is not cheap, but it delivers people who are ready to buy, now.

  • Outdoor advertising offers high visibility, and the cost per viewer is relatively low. But outdoor ads, billboards, and transit ads are best used in conjunction with other forms of advertising.
All of these media outlets have sales reps who can tell you who reads, watches, or listens to that particular outlet. Picking an advertising source that reaches your customers' demographic mix will make all the difference.

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