When it comes time to consider the most effective ways to advertise your small business, one of the most common questions you might have is, “Which method of advertising is best for the amount of money and time I have to spend?”
No one single method of advertising works for all businesses. A dry cleaner might have a different way to reach his clientèle than a clothing retailer, a gift shop owner or a furniture store retailer. Analyzing different means of advertising before starting a campaign is crucial. It also minimizes trial-and-error expenses.
Carefully consider the following points, and you’ll be on your way to better advertising and bigger returns.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
Advertising campaigns need to have a goal, so what’s yours? What do you want to achieve with this campaign? Do you want to increase awareness of your business with the public? Are you looking to bring in more leads? Do you want to increase sales? Perhaps you’re seeking to promote a specific product or service.
Take a look at what you want to achieve and determine what your exact goal are before considering the different types of advertising methods you could use to promote your business. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to promote a one-time event or have a long-term campaign?
- Do I need a powerful burst of marketing or a more stable method?
- What action should people take because of my campaign?
Targeting the Right People
After you decide what you want to accomplish with your advertising campaign (and be specific), you need to consider how you’ll reach your target audience.
Wait; you did determine who your target audience is, right?
An ad campaign won’t be effective if the question, “Who am I trying to reach,” is answered with, “Everyone!” It just isn’t feasible for a small business to reach everyone.
Think of fishermen. These workers don’t take their boats out to cast a wide net in the hopes of catching a few varied types of fish. They wouldn’t be able to make a good living in their industry.
Instead, they target exactly the type of fish they want. They determine whether their fish swim high or low and in schools or individually. They learn where the fish go and what attracts them—as well as what makes them swim away. They examine the perfect weather conditions, water temperature and the best times of day (or night) to fish.
When they go fishing, they fish for one type—not a dozen.
Not to compare people to fish, but the method of honing in on a target audience is much the same in business. Ad campaigns target a specific group of individuals with particular likes, dislikes, behaviors, habits, needs and desires.
So be like a fisherman when choosing a method to advertise your business. Don’t cast a wide net and take a chance. Think about your ideal client and answer the following:
- Is that person a younger one or an aging individual?
- What type of job does the person have?
- Does the individual have a need that your product or service fulfills?
- What type of personality does your target client have?
- What demographic does that person belong to?
How Can You Reach Your Target Audience?
Once you know whom you are trying to target, then you can decide how you will effectively reach that individual. There’s no point in creating a press release if your ideal client doesn’t read newspapers. There’s little point in an email campaign if your ideal client doesn’t use a computer often.
Take a look at the language of your campaign, too. To reach your ideal client, you need to speak a language familiar to the person. Younger people tend to prefer fast, snappy tones. Business people like a professional style. Baby boomers might like an adventurous, youthful sound.
Now examine the medium of advertising for your specific goal. Is email your best delivery method? Or is a hand-out pamphlet at a trade show the best method? What about a radio ad or a television clip? Have you considered a viral video or direct mailing?
How Long Do You Want The Campaign to Last?
Some strategies are perfect for short, fast bursts of marketing messages. They’re geared to land a quick sale or create a buzz around a promotion. Other campaigns contain long-term ad messages built to withstand the test of time, like a static website for a business.
Decide whether your campaign is for a one-time event or needs longevity with its message. Will you be carrying this consistent message throughout all your future campaigns? Do you want your ad campaign to be one that you can use once, every month or a few times a year?
If you want a short burst of advertising to be effective, opt for methods that are quickly set up and that provide fast returns on investment. Longer campaigns need to be flexible enough to adapt with time. They also need to provide a good, consistent return over a period with the least amount of attention.
When determining how long you want your ad campaign to last, ask yourself:
- Will it need attention and revision from time to time?
- Will you need to update the information often?
- Do you want your campaign to be “evergreen”?
Keep in mind that while short campaigns are easily set up and produce fast results versus “evergreen” (year-round) campaigns, an “evergreen campaign” requires less effort in the end, producing more consistent long-term results without consistent attention.
“Evergreen” advertising does require long-term maintenance, though. It requires care and adjustments based on results to make it even more effective. When it has run its course, it may need an overhaul or a complete change to boost effectiveness again.
How Much Can You Invest?
There are many factors involved in determining how much to invest in an ad campaign beyond cash.
- The available budget for advertising
- The realistic potential for a return
- The cost of time and labor involved in the campaign
- The opportunity cost of choosing one method over another
The opportunity cost is an important one to consider. If you choose opportunity A over opportunity B, what is the loss of not having chosen opportunity B? Is A cheaper in dollars but B would cost less in man hours? Every choice involves lost opportunity, so weigh the pros and cons before moving ahead.
Many people choose ad campaigns that cost less in dollars but that may involve more time investment. They feel that the less they spend, the better.
Sometimes, that’s true. However, every hour that you aren’t working directly in your business making money is a loss of money—the trick is to figure out whether the hours you’d invest in your efforts would cost you more in the long run through lost income.
Always try to choose an advertising campaign that provides the highest rate of return based on the total investments of time, money and effort. You want an effective campaign—and an efficient one, too.
Making the Final Choice
Before deciding on any advertising method, think about all of the previous points. Here’s a summary of things to consider:
- What do you specifically want your advertising to accomplish?
- Who are you targeting as the ideal person for your ad?
- What’s the best way to reach your intended audience?
- How long do you need your ad campaign to last?
- What is the opportunity cost and the potential return?
With those answers, you can examine various ways of advertising your business to people and see right away which methods are best for your target market, your goals, and ultimately your business.