Because you need to discover the advertising methods that work best for you, it is critical to monitor all responses in relationship to the dollars spent. Ask all customers, “Where did you hear about us?” and note their answers and the date—a simple way to monitor results. When you start advertising, monitor every strategy. Sign up for ads in one magazine issue, one week of radio air time, and two newspaper insertions, and compare the results. Successful businesses not only take advantage of the most obvious form of advertising, they create consumer demand for their products through effective marketing strategies. Traditional advertising includes a variety of methods, including the following.
Point-of-purchase materials include posters, banners, table tents, brochures, displays, balloons, and in-store coupons displayed next to your product to increase its visibility. Take advantage of the people who walk by your dis- play by making it stand out. How many times have you impulsively grabbed something at the checkout because it caught your attention?
Radio and television
Radio and television advertising is usually recommended for promoting highly consumable items or special events and to establish consumer aware- ness. If you don’t have a large inventory, several outlets, or fast-selling items such as hamburgers or computers, then use other forms of marketing. If you can afford radio or television air time, combine it with printed media. Used by itself, air time won’t generate the expected business because it is short- lived. Getting the public to recognize your name takes repetition—and that is expensive. The cost is usually prohibitive for small businesses. Of course, a guest spot on a radio show as “the expert” costs nothing. Another way to promote your business through radio is by storytelling for business. This new technique looks at how businesses can tell their own story to capture the essence of the business.
For many larger businesses, transit advertising works well, but it is costly. The advertisements on the back or side of a bus are obviously visible. If you have sat behind a bus in traffic, you have probably read many. Smaller advertisements placed inside a train or bus are also effective—bored commuters often have nothing else to read. Large advertisements on the back of bus seats or inside shelters are effective, but be sure to advertise in the right geographic area.
Marketing on the Internet is extensively discussed elsewhere, but suffice to say that competitive businesses keep up with technology and are accessible via email and their websites. A site gives you a 24/7 presence and can be utilized in many ways. Consumers are now using the Internet for paying bills, ordering from rep- utable companies such as large office stationers, and for finding information. Even a business servicing a local market could benefit. For example, a local florist with an online catalog and secure ordering provides a convenience for our busy society. There are also many businesses that service a particular area online. For example, a search for "SEO Leeds" will give you lots of results for search engine consultants in Leeds.
Those servicing a wider market—state, national, or international—should consider a website. Hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts gain regular international business this way. If you specialize in a product—for example, collector dolls—a website and secure ordering system is a great business booster. People are still hesitant to buy over the Internet from unknown busi- nesses, so be conservative about what you spend and monitor the results.
Have a professional design the site and be prepared for a costly venture, depending on its size and bells and whistles. Consult first with other busi- nesses and industry professionals. Splash your email and website address on everything—business cards, stationery, brochures, and all advertising, as con- sumers often visit a company’s website first.
People love a deal and can’t resist words like “sale,” “special,” “70 percent off,” or “inventory clearance.” Time-sensitive deals such as offering to pay the tax for the first twenty customers create an urgency to buy, particularly for higher- priced items. Specials will help clear out slow-moving inventory, stimulate cash flow, and increase market awareness, but should not be unprofitable.
Mix and match
You may have been told that the more you advertise, the more effective the results, or that your first advertisements may not work for you. The truth is, every advertisement should work for you if it is correctly planned and priced. The more you advertise, the better the results. Response rate should gradually increase, so don’t expect the telephone to ring off the hook after the third advertisement.
Two or three techniques combined in the same time period generate a better response. A new business can’t afford to wait for customers to magi- cally appear. You need to become known—quickly. For example, an “infor- mational” advertisement in a magazine and radio advertising may not prompt people to call, but adding coupon books or flyers will. Your market is now surrounded with your information.
They are informed of your business’s benefits with one type of advertising, and you are encouraging them to come in with another. Don’t deplete your marketing budget to do this. For better air-time rates, either buy the same day, all day, every week, using the same time slot, or use the same time slot every day on the same days every week. Magazine, flyer, and coupon advertising can be two-color instead of full color. Full color isn’t necessary, unless you are selling high-end products.