Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Beginner's Guide to Advertising

How to Squeeze the Value Out of Your Advertising Dollars

Despite the obvious benefits, when it comes to getting the word out about their service or product many business owners do not know where to start. On top of this is the preconception that advertising means the investment of big bucks, something that a lot of small and start-up businesses simply do not have.

Contrary to popular belief, advertising does not have to be stupendously expensive. If you do your homework you can eliminate unnecessary advertising efforts and costs. This includes having a clear idea of who your customers are and how to communicate with them, as well as being familiar with your competitive environment.

The Benefits of Working with a Professional

Getting a good advertising agency on board can be a smart business move. Agencies can assist with anything from providing a strong advertising strategy to advising on where, when and how often you should be running your advertisements. Delegating these tasks to the experts leaves you free to focus on what you know best -- running your business.

Things You Can Try out on Your Own

Employing the services of a professional can save a lot of time and money in the long run, but bear in mind that if a new company’s preliminary marketing budget is very limited it is not beyond the realms of possibility to go it alone and conduct an advertising campaign without the guidance of an agency.

A good place to start is with one of the biggest advertising tools you have: your company website. Try a few things yourself, see what works and get plenty of feedback from your clients and friends.

Even if you don't have a website yet, the Internet can still provide some great and inexpensive ways of marketing your business. For example, free business directories, such as global directory The Business List and the UK based Scoot, allow you to promote your company for free and will get your product or service in front of hundreds of potential customers.

Common Mistakes

As with anything, there are a whole range of traps that business owners new to advertising can fall into.

The biggest mistake a company can make is not listening to the consumers and not getting the customer experience right. If you rush into advertising before either your product or your customer service plan is ready then you risk damaging the delicate relationship between you and your customers.

Advertising as Part of the Marketing Mix

Advertising should not be the only tool you use to promote your business. On occasion, direct marketing, an email strategy or even a public relations campaign might be much more effective and a good advertising professional won’t shy away from telling you this. However, it is an integral part of the marketing mix and can be highly beneficial for any size of company, as long as the product and the customer experience are ready for the exposure. If you approach your advertising with an open mind alongside a strong idea of what you want advertising to achieve for your company then you will be that one step closer to joining Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola and Nike in the Business Halls of Fame.

© Jennifer Boyes

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