Lessons In advertising

No matter how wonderful your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it. The goal of any advertising program should be to cost-effectively reach the largest audience possible and attract new customers. If done correctly, advertising can be a wonderful investment for your small business; if done poorly, advertising can become a huge money sink.
Despite what you see on “Mad Men,” advertising can be a tricky game. We present 10 important tips to help you plan, execute, and monitor your advertising program.

1. Go After Your Target Audience

An advertising campaign should be geared toward your niche market. It is a common mistake to create generic ads that do not speak the language or grab the attention of your potential customers. Ask yourself what kind of customers you want to attract, and make sure your ads speak to them on a personal level.

2. Highlight Your Competitive Advantage

One of the keys to all advertising is to accentuate the pros of your company — those factors that give you your competitive edge. Too many ads are clever but fail to sell the specific benefits of the featured product or service. Unless you highlight these benefits, your ad delivers no value to potential customers.

3. Establish an Image

You can recognize the McDonald’s arches while whizzing by on the highway. Likewise, there are plenty of products that you recognize by their packaging or logo.
Image counts when it comes to advertising and promoting your business. Too many advertisers do not work to build a consistent image, and they’re missing the chance to make an impression on prospective customers.

4. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

There are ways to save money, but advertising is typically not the place to cut corners. Doing so will affect sales, and that affect the bottom line? Successful advertising may cost some money, but that is because it works, so contact our team.

5. Advertising in the Right Places

Your favorite magazine, radio station, or even television program might not be a favorite of your audience. Do some research about your target market to understand who they are and determine what they read, watch, and listen to. Then advertise in the appropriate media to ensure that you reach your target market.

6. Don’t Allow Your Budget to Run Your Ad Campaign

If you budget $5,000 per month for advertising, you’ve made it very easy from a bookkeeping perspective. However, if like most businesses you have seasonal highs and lows, you are spending too much money advertising during down times and not enough when you want to attract customers. Too many entrepreneurs do not budget according to their seasonal advertising needs.

7. Advertising Diversity

It is all too common for business owners to choose the best place to advertise based on price and potential rate of returns, and then stop. As is the case with investing, you do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Spread your advertising dollars around by choosing a variety of suitable media for your audience and budget.

8. Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone

No product or service will appeal to everyone. Many business owners, including corporate executives, try to come up with ways to reach every market. Typically, this does not work. It can spell disaster for small businesses, who cannot afford to spread themselves too thin. Therefore, find your market and be everything you can be to that audience.

9. Test Your Advertising in Advance

If you have the time or money to invest in focus groups, you should test your ads on other people. Do they understand and accept the message you are trying to convey? If not, get insight into how you could more effectively communicate your message.
There are other less-expensive ways to test your ads as well — questionnaires, for example.

10. Monitor Your Advertising

It is very easy to ask new customers or clients where they heard about you. As simple as this is, many entrepreneurs do not bother to do so. It is advantageous to understand which elements of your ads are most effective and which media offer the most profitable advertising opportunities for your company.

marketing firm orlando

Your Business – 7 Free Marketing Tips

Market Your Business for FREE

You may not have wads of cash to spend on marketing your business in the early stages of your startup, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t effective ways to get your brand out there.

Before the Internet, small businesses only had a few ways to market their products cheaply, through methods like printing out fliers or sponsoring little local events. Now there are all kinds of opportunities out there on the Web—you just need to know where to look.

Here are seven ways to promote your business online that won’t cost you a dime:

  1. Use the three big local listing services

Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of businesses called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up for.

  1. Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.

  1. Start a blog

A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the major keys of blogging is to keep your stream updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.

  1. Put up multimedia on YouTube and Flickr

YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but in order to succeed you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business, and allows you to link back to your website.

  1. SEO your company website

Search engine optimization cannot be underestimated in the world of constant Googling. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your site is primed for performance on search engines.

  1. Press releases

Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release.

  1. Join a relevant online community and contribute

Every niche has communities online that you can get involved in. But just signing up for a forum and posting every once in a while about your business isn’t beneficial for anyone, and will likely just annoy people. Actively contribute and build a rapport with the community, while keeping your business out of it. Passively promote your business by putting a link in your signature or mentioning it only when the context is appropriate.