Advertising is cool. I was telling a story to convey a message about your company, products, or services. Advertising “stories” can be said with words, sounds, videos, or pictures.
In advertising, creativity counts, but being clear about your message is even more important than being the most innovative and unique company on the map. An ad that is too off the beaten track can be costly.
Think of the scary ads as the house with all the interior walls painted pink – it has a bit of mass appeal, making it harder to find the right buyer and close the deal.
If you need more money to hire someone to help with an advertising campaign, rely on your strengths.
If you have strong writing skills, start with a flyer or brochure. If you have an artistic flair, use more pictures and fewer words in your campaign. But no matter where you start, have someone else read your work before you go to print.
The ad should be focused, not everywhere, trying to reach “everyone.”
There are many different types of consumer groups, so you can only reach some of them with one ad campaign. Target a specific group (i.e., working mothers, homeowners in a particular area, pet owners, etc.) and cater to their interests. Providing broad or too much information in an advertising campaign tends to turn off customers.
To create a successful ad:
- Keep ad groups small and straightforward;
- Choose a specific consumer group to target;
- Do not use advertising to promote personal, religious, or political agendas unless it is your company’s mission.
- Choose a particular product, product line, or service to boost;
- Coupon offers, discounts, or incentives – everyone loves a bargain.
Advertising requires the ability to take criticism.
Test your marketing ideas on other people and listen to their feedback. The goal of advertising is to reach consumers, not to be “right.” You want to make money, and that requires the ability to accept constructive criticism. You may “get” your idea, but if consumers don’t “get it,” your advertising campaign will fail.
Business cards are cheap, and many servers now offer free design tools. You should have two types of business cards: cards that you plan to issue for networking and business identification; and cards to be used for advertising purposes (i.e., cards with discount incentives, product promotions, etc.)
Always carry business cards with you – you never know when you might run into someone who needs a service you can provide.
Start the blManyany free, customizable blogging services available only require little computer skills. Before you start blogging, take the time to read a competitor’s blog. They must be doing something right if they are selling in your industry. Studying other blogs and websites can help you think of new promotions and marketing ideas.
Buy a domain name and start a website.
Many service providers will host a website for free if you pay for domain registration; domain registration costs about $10 per year.
If you don’t have web design skills, choose a service with “drag and click” or other user-friendly tools that make designing a website as easy as typing in a document. Be sure to check out other websites for layout and shape ideas. Pay special attention to the content listed on competitors’ websites – what they are selling and their specific marketing tools.
If you don’t have the budget to hire someone to create a website for you but want something a little more professional than “free,” you can buy a website template for less than $60. Templates are converted to an HTML editor but do not necessarily require knowledge of HTML code.
Simple templates are designed to replace images and text with your own.
Pay-per-click and other online advertising.
It may seem like a quick and easy way to get your blog or website noticed, but buying Internet advertising space can also be very expensive. Be sure to understand the difference between the advertising services available and how you will be charged. Some services charge per click through your website from an advertised link; others take a commission from every sales action.
Generally, it is better to pay more for quality ads than buy volume ads with lesser-known search engines.
If you have a budget for online advertising, compare pricing to the cost of hiring someone to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website. Effective SEO can drive consumer traffic to your site from search engine queries much better than click-through ads can.
Television and radOnly someFew new businesses can (or should) start advertising on TV or radio. It is expensive, and having access to many resources will be overwhelming because your media will look “homeschooled.” Television and radio commercials require professional skills for scripting needs, set design or staging, taping, and editing.
Register with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
It is one cost (typically around $500 per year) worth it to anyone in the service industry. Consumers often use the BBB to check out contractors, cleaning services, car dealerships, and other businesses where they plan to spend a lot of money. A good BBB rating encourages consumers unfamiliar with your business to trust your company.
The best source of advertising is still word of mouth and personal referrals. Second, only to the Internet do consumers turn to people they know for product and service recommendations. Let your family and friends know you’re in business and ask them to help you spread the word (network).
Be quick to resolve customer complaints because people are likelier to freely offer up anecdotes about negative experiences to friends and family rather than good ones.
An advertising campaign tells a story, and you need to write more than one to reach various consumers. Movements should be aimed at generating revenue, directly or indirectly. Don’t use advertising campaigns to promote personal, religious, or political messages (unless this is something your company does as part of its business).
Advertise within your budget. Be creative, but be clear. And relax; One nasty ad campaign isn’t likely to destroy your business – but several good ones could!