Advertising can be an effective way of reaching a large number of potential customers. However, it is neither a quick nor cheap promotional solution. To convince customers to buy your product you will have to run your advertisements several times.

Expensive

Television advertising, in particular, can be prohibitively expensive for small businesses and shouldn't be attempted without specialist help from an advertising agency. Advertising in magazines and newspapers is much cheaper and you can manage it yourself. Another option is advertising on your local radio station, especially if your customers mostly live in the near vicinity.

The rates for advertisements vary but can always be negotiated. A typical quarter page ad in a local newspaper will cost around £800. You should consider getting help from a professional copywriter and designer to produce your newspaper advertisement, or an agency to create a local radio advertisement. This is costly but it is a one-off cost for each advertising campaign.

Managing your campaign

Who and how – decide who you want to reach and which media will be most effective to communicate with them. If, for example, your customers are mainly camping enthusiasts then advertise in specialist magazines. Or if most live in your area, advertise in your local newspaper and on the radio. Ask advertising representatives for demographic information on their readership to see if they fit your target market.

  • Set goals – right from the start of the advertising campaign set goals that can be measured through market research. For example, you might decide that you want 70% of homeowners in Derby to have heard of your shop when the campaign has been running for three months.
  • Message – decide what message you would like to communicate to your customers. Use your insider knowledge of your customers to decide on the things that motivate them to buy from your business. Then devise a message around them. It is advisable to test your message with market research or a focus group to make sure you get it right.
  • Timing – advertising is expensive so for most small businesses running advertisements all year round is too costly. Decide if you want to run a lot of advertisements over a short space of time, run seasonal adverts that reflect the nature of your business, or run a batch in cycles, such as in alternate months.
  • Calendar – draw up a calendar that shows when, where and what you intend to advertise over the next year.
  • Negotiate – once you know how often you want to advertise and where, you are in a stronger position to negotiate with advertising representatives. If, for example, you can offer a newspaper a series of ten advertisements you stand a better chance of negotiating a discount.