There are two types of advertising. The first is intended to bring business in NOW! That is why you so often see print ads in capital letters promoting sales and the like. Immediate advertising must grab people's attention right away. The other type of advertising is intended to build brand awareness. The goal of this sort of advertising is to familiarize potential clients with the name of your small business so it will be remembered when your services are needed down the road.
Building your brand is a slow process that requires ongoing advertising. However, the cost of running even a few commercials or print ads every month can really add up over the long haul. For a large company, finding the money necessary to build a brand may not be a problem. But what if you run a small business? The good news is that there are many affordable ways to reach out to potential customers and build your brand.
First of all, consider something as simple as buying a two–to–three line classified ad consisting of a heading and a Web address. Your Web site can provide more information than could ever be given in a large print ad or in a 30–second radio or TV ad. Many newspapers have a service directory in the classifieds which would work perfectly for this type of advertising, and the papers usually give discounts for bulk buys. Running a small ad like that every other day can be an inexpensive way for many people to get to know your business.
Another simple way to build your brand is to make a list of companies and contacts that could potentially drive business your way, and then send them a brochure and a letter. For example, a wedding photographer could contact bakers, wedding halls, churches and synagogues, and florists — all of which could be potential goldmines of referral work. Maybe some of these businesses would be willing to insert a small brochure advertising your business in their newsletter or monthly statements. Some businesses will often pass along information their customers will perceive as valuable. A church bulletin might take ads, and while they would be very inexpensive, the potential return is great. The more people who see your name, the more valuable your brand will become.
If your company has a lot of business–to–business dealings, you might consider running an occasional ad in trade publications or special editions of newspapers. Again, these are great ways for people to get to know your name and thereby can provide you with a targeted audience who will need you when the time is right.
While branding takes patience, it's kind of like an insurance policy for your business. Down the road, you will be happy you did it.