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Advertising a Business

What is the best form of advertising?

The best form of advertising is the kind that generates the most business income proportional to the amount of money that can be spent (word of mouth costing the least). To determine this, you must first ask yourself what you want to achieve through advertising. Is your objective to increase business relative to one product or service? Or is it to get consumers into your store or office to buy any of the products or services you offer?

To determine what form of advertising will achieve this, you have to ask yourself:

  • What specifically am I selling–a product or an image?
  • Who am I selling to? What is my target market (i.e., the geographic location, age, and sex of my customers)?
  • Who are my competitors and what are the benefits of my product over theirs?
  • What should be the tone of my advertisement–humorous or serious?

Your advertising might convey to the consumer your product’s function, where it is available, its price, and how it’s better than your competitor’s. It should hook your target audience so that it becomes interested in the product. To do this, it’s also important that you know your customers. For example, if you advertise to former customers, you may make a repeat sale or get a referral to other potential customers.

Many different forms of advertising exist, such as direct mail, billboards, newspapers and magazines, radio, television, and the Internet. Try out a few different forms to see which works best for you. Better still, look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. If it works for them, it may work for you also.

How do I know where to advertise my business?

Often, the solution is both simple and obvious. You’ll want to identify your target audience, and then decide how best to advertise your business to it. Defining your target market and figuring out how to reach it are crucial to spending your advertising dollars effectively.

Here are a few suggestions to help you determine where you should advertise your business:

  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Where would you go to look for your business?
  • Look to see where your competitors are advertising–they might have done some market research. But don’t feel compelled to advertise somewhere just because someone else is.
  • Identify publications or advertising media that most accurately portray your customer base. For example, some products become synonymous with a specific area, age, or gender group.
  • If you’re unsure of your target audience, try to narrow your advertising by geographic area, consumer group, or both. This can help you determine where you should advertise.
  • Put your ad where customers will find it easily and logically (e.g., plumbing in the yellow pages or a local directory).
  • Be sure to consider different forms of media when advertising. You can advertise in the newspapers, on radio or television, in magazines or directories, or by direct marketing. Each allows you to target different audiences.
  • If appropriate to your target market, consider advertising on the Internet. You can have your own website or have banner ads placed on other websites (e.g., the local newspaper’s website).

How can I get free publicity for my business?

Free publicity may be the most cost-effective way of presenting your product to the public. Generally, it has more credibility than advertising since it gives the impression that the content was written by an independent third party. To get publicity, you have to create a reason why someone would want to know about your product. Then, you look around for a way to bring this information to the public’s attention.

The easiest way for you to do this is through the media, newspapers in particular. You could start by contacting a local or specialized columnist, a regional reporter, or a freelance writer. Tell the journalist why the paper’s readers need to know about you and your product. Often, if you have a story line prepared in advance, you can pitch the story to the journalist.

Other ways of getting free publicity include volunteering, submitting stories to the media specific to your product, holding a press conference or issuing a press release, writing a column in a paper, writing a letter to the editor, or donating to a worthy cause. Finally, you can try to get listed in the community news section to advertise some fact about your business, such as the celebration of its first anniversary. This will give you and your product exposure to the public.