5 Advertising Tips for Small Business

Advertising doesn’t work

I can’t tell you how many business owners have told me “advertising doesn’t work”.  To be more accurate, what they should be saying is “My advertising doesn’t work”.  Advertising  works, but one has to


Your Advertising Doesn't Work

know how to make it work  and many small business owners don’t.

Here are a five quick advertising tips that apply to online or offline advertising.

1.  Advertising needs a purpose

For advertising to be successful, one needs a specific purpose.  What specifically do you want your advertising to do?  Do you want to build awareness, differentiate yourself from your competition, generate some word of mouth buzz?  Perhaps you want your advertising to stimulate traffic during the down periods of your business.   If you know the purpose of your advertising, all of the other pieces will fall into place.  You just need to realize that…

2.  Advertising needs to be seen to work

Think about it.  Your small 2 inch by 1 column ad appears on one page out of 60 or 70 pages of a newspaper.  Factor in that only a quarter of the newspaper readers may represent your audience or have any interest in what you are marketing.  Then think about how much of a page people actually read or see.  When one considers all of these variables, is it any wonder that small 2 inch by 1 column ads get ignored and don’t produce a torrent of in-store traffic? The same is true of radio, Television and online.   Don’t bother advertising if you’re not willing to pay to have people see it.  Go as big as you can afford and factor in the fact that…

3.  Advertising requires repeated exposure

You may not like to hear that, but it is the truth.  Professional advertising agencies don’t talk in terms of ‘ads’.  They talk in terms of ‘advertising campaigns’ because they understand that in order to have an impact in the market, advertising needs multiple exposures in order to create buzz and momentum. It is a lot like how you and I learned the alphabet and our multiplication tables.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Advertising works the same way on consumers.

Unfortunately, small business owners don’t plan repeated exposure of their advertising.  Their ads appear one week and are out-of-sight and mind for the next six or eight weeks.  There is no value to this sporadic approach.   One has to have an advertising plan that includes repeated exposures.

4.  Advertising needs to be tracked

Truth be known, few small business owners ever track their advertising, so they really don’t know if their advertising is doing its job or not.

How does one track their advertising?  Ask customers how they heard of you when they call or visit your store and keep a tally sheet.  Don’t forget to ask how your visitors found your web site. Code your advertising.  Example:  Put a unique code on a coupon or ad so you can track the media source. Drop the media that isn’t delivering and zero in on those media that are delivering.

5.  Advertising is more than a pretty photo, your logo and address

One has to give people a reason to pay attention to ads.  Your ad needs to include a viable message, one that addresses a problem that your customers face.  In so doing, you’re a) getting the attention of the customers you can service and b) presenting you as the problem solver.

Often, small business owners think they need to be overly creative with their headlines and graphics.  If you have the talent, great.  If you don’t have the talent, don’t let that stop you.  Boil your ad down to three basics.  Here’s a common problem you have, here’s what I or my product will do for you and here is what you need to do to get these benefits.  That is it.  This simple formula does a couple of very important things.  First, it targets those consumers who have a problem you can solve.  Second, it positions you as a problem solver and third, it gives the reader or listener a call to action.

Do you have problems with your advertising?  Do you think it could be better?  Let me know what your advertising problems are in the comments section below and I will be happy to address them for you.


Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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