Finding a balanced approach to your advertising dollars is critical for small business owners. This article identifies techniques to assist with that balance.
You now have that website up and running. You have a great product. You are all set to start taking orders and making those trips to the bank to make deposits! And then you wait, and wait, and wait some more! Unless someone can find your site, you will have a very long wait! That is where the value and benefit of advertising comes in. Advertising is what brings potential customers into your "virtual business door". As a business owner, every dollar you spend is a dollar right out of your pocket. This affects your profit margin and revenues. This can be especially difficult if it comes at a time when you're trying to grow your business. If you're going to succeed, you have to pay close attention to your bottom line and look for creative, innovative ways to cut costs while still getting what you need.
That old saying that it "takes money to make money" has never been truer than when it comes to promoting your business. And when it comes to spending money on advertising, how do you make sure that your advertising is working hard enough, without spending a fortune that consumes all your profits or even worse money that far exceeds your business revenues?
Thanks to the Internet, you've got lots of options for finding cost-effective advertising that does what it's supposed to -- bring targeted customers who are hungry for what you're selling, right to your door. But don't forget about cost-effective offline methods as well. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Always make sure you focus your advertising dollars on your target market. The tighter your niche, the better your chances of finding the customers who are looking for exactly what you've got to sell! So rather than going wide, and trying to sell to everyone, narrow your focus, and then, if possible, narrow it some more! Figure out who your "ideal" customer is, and then create an advertising campaign for them. Once you know who you're selling to, look for media that targets that demographic.
If your ideal customers aren't defined by a specific geographic location, look at regional or specific demographic publications. Perhaps a regional paper runs an annual issue that focuses on an issue or activity that reaches your target market. Use local cable television to broadcast your ads only in certain markets. You'll get cheaper rates and a more focused demographic.
Some monthly magazines offer discounts for multi-ads placed over a 3, 6 or 12 month time period. Most publications have a different rate schedule for different types of advertisers -- so depending on your product or service, you could qualify. And if not, sometimes just asking for the discount will give it to you.
Do you own a retail business? If so, check into co-op advertising funds that may be offered by your vendors. Co-op programs provide joint advertising for your and your vendor, and you'll get a portion of the cost of the ad reimbursed because the ad mentions the vendor. (Note: most Co-op programs have strict guidelines, so check with your vendors and make sure you're following the rules).
Don't forget or be afraid to recycle the good ads in other advertising medium. If you've got an ad that's especially effective, looks great (or more importantly that is profitable), by all means reuse it in a circular, brochure, handout, flyer or direct mail piece. Use the graphics on your Webpages if available.
In summary, your goal should be to find a balanced mix of online and offline advertising. This will go a long way towards getting the greatest bang for your advertising buck! With a little creativity you will be maximizing your profits while minimizing your expenses.
Stephen Wright is President & CEO of InternetMarketing.com
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