For most small businesses, big advertising campaigns are just too expensive. On the whole they are usually used by large organisations, and aimed at a very large market.
Small businesses, by nature, have a small market and need to tailor their marketing and advertising accordingly. Ideally, your advertising should to be practical by nature and easy to implement.
To be effective it should reach your target market — your best customers.
So the first thing you should do is look at your existing advertising and compare it with the customer profiles you have just made.
Consider whether you are positioning your ads in the places where your best customers will see them.
There is no point in wasting money in advertising in places where it will be ignored or not seen by the people you want to attract.
Try to identify some common factor among your customers and then see if there is any particular publication or venue that you can use to place your ads.
Location is one of the easiest factors when considering where to best place your advertising. If your main customers live within a set radius you can immediately consider using:
- Community newspapers and publications
- Letterbox drops
- Local billboards.
By using a combination of some or all of these, you can feel reasonably assured that the customer you want to attract will be exposed to your ads.
A local newspaper will often do a deal with different businesses and tie up an advertising campaign with a feature article. This is called an “advertorial”. Keep a look out for this type of opportunity as it gives you the benefit of much greater exposure than an ordinary ad.
Letterbox drops are a relatively cheap form of advertising, and in some instances, you can create the ad yourself using your own computer.
By including some sort of discount voucher or coupon in both letterbox leaflets and newspaper ads, you can track the effectiveness of this type of campaign. Make sure you include some sort of tracking code on the coupons so you can easily trace where the coupons have come from (newspaper, mail-outs etc.) and thus, what was the most effective.
When using your local billboards, you will have to decide what it is you wish to advertise.
Large billboards, such as those found in some bus shelters, might be suitable for advertising your business name and location, rather than individual products or prices.
This is because these ads are usually put in place for a period of time and are also aimed at catching the attention of passing traffic who have to absorb the message quickly.
More detailed information can be placed on the types of community billboards found in local shopping centres or libraries.
Age and gender
The age and gender of your target market are big factors to consider when choosing where to place your ads.
If you are considering placing an ad in a newspaper, for example, you will find that certain sections of the paper appeal to different readers. More men read the sports page, while women enjoy the feature and lifestyle sections. It is unlikely that a retired person will read the local gig section.
So, think about the age and gender of your target customers and see if you can identify any particular media, place or publication that is more likely to be seen by that age group.
Customer business background
If you can group your customers by business background, you will need to consider what they have in common and how you can use this.
If you are appealing to people with a corporate type background, an obvious place to consider is the business section of your state or metro daily newspaper, or the financial sections in magazines and journals.
Placing an ad in this type of publication will be far more expensive than a local, community-type paper. Most ads are likely to be “display” ads and typically, the cost will be in the hundreds of dollars.
Saturday editions are usually the most expensive. Colour costs even more. For this kind of money you will definitely want to see results. Most papers will design the ad for you for an extra charge.
If you have a limited advertising budget, we would suggest that you only use these kinds of ads if you really feel that this is the best way to attract your desired customers.
Alternatively, there are trade magazines or journals, or any industry specific publication that could be useful. The rates are usually similar to local newspapers but cheaper than the state or metro dailies. However, these types of publications are usually quarterly, or monthly at best.
Hobbies and interests
As with business grouping, you could also try to identify what particular hobbies or interests your clients have in common.
In this instance, you can target special interest publications, club and association newsletters as well as notice boards in clubhouses or meeting places.
Again, the cost of your ads will depend on the quality and frequency of the publications.
Posting your ad directly to your customers is a sure way of making sure that your customer has every chance of seeing it.
Human nature being what it is, however, you cannot actually guarantee that it will be read and not just thrown in the bin. Take a look at your own mail and see what “junk” mail you read, and why, for ideas for your own mail-outs.
If you don’t already have address lists, do not automatically exclude this option.
Various companies sell their address lists for this very purpose and these can cost from a few hundred dollars up to thousands. The costs vary according to the quality of the address lists, with quantity and specificity costing more.