Small Business Advertising Strategies

For many small town business owners, small business advertising is regarded as a "necessary evil" to be tolerated rather than embraced. As a result, small business advertising is relegated to the "back burner" and considered a nuisance to be dealt with at the very last minute and often in a superficial manner.

That's too bad because advertising, which is one element of a comprehensive marketing strategy is the face of your business in the minds of listeners and readers. It's often the very first point of contact potential customers have with your business. It's the place many customers form their impressions, good or bad about your business.

We tend to fear what we don't understand and ignore what we fear. So, to get over the fear of advertising we need to understand its role in small business marketing. We also need to know what is effective and appropriate for your business.

Small business advertising choices typically include newspaper, radio, outdoor (such as billboards and signage) local magazines, newsletters and direct mail.

Salespeople, hired by the media outlet are paid a commission - a percentage of the advertising sold - and it is in their financial best interest to sell you lots and sell you often.

That's not a bad thing if it fits your strategy.

But it's also a great way to lose a lot of money.

Here's why.

Advertising salespeople have been taught that it is important to establish a "brand" in the minds of their clients' customers. A brand is a marketing created entity - something that has a personality of its own. It lives and breathes and can be differentiated from competitors by virtue of the brands' elements.

Think of popular brands and notice the thoughts and feelings associated with it.

McDonalds. The name evokes family; fast; consistent; children, safe, clean.

Volvo. No doubt you would consider it safe, dependable, reliable.

MacIntosh. What comes to mind? Style, elegance, music, graphics.

These company brands have been established over time and with much money.

Is branding important?

Yes it is.

But for a small town, small business marketer branding should not be pursued at the expense of advertising the product and service you provide with the specific intent of generating a measurable outcome or result.

You must be able to measure the outcome of your advertising and marketing programs because there are always more opportunities than budget. Measuring results helps you decide what to keep and what to cease doing. Keep winners, dump losers!

I speak from decades of experience when I tell you that advertising sales people are often poorly trained as marketers.

But don't take my word for it.

Put your sales rep to the test. Ask them to answer 10 questions before you put your trust and budget in their hands. Print out this list of questions and ask your media sales rep to answer them. The answers to the questions will help you to determine if the sales person taking care of your business is an untrained amateur or a sustaining resource you can call upon to help you grow your business.

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