As a small business owner, every dollar you spend is a
dollar that comes right out of your pocket and affects your profit margin,
especially when you're trying to grow your business. If you're going to
succeed, you have to pay close attention to your bottom line and look for
creative, innovative ways to cut costs while still getting what you need.
That old saying that it "takes money to make money" has never been truer
than when it comes to promoting your business.
|So when it comes to
spending money on advertising, how do you make sure that your advertising is
working hard enough, without spending a fortune?
Thanks to the Internet, you've got lots of options for finding
cost-effective advertising that does what it's supposed to -- bring targeted
customers who are hungry for what you're selling, right to your door. But
don't forget about cost-effective offline methods as well.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
|Focus your advertising
dollars on your target market. The tighter your niche, the better your
chances of finding the customers who are looking for exactly what you've got
to sell! So rather than going wide, and trying to sell to everyone, narrow
your focus, and then, if possible, narrow it some more! Figure out who your
"ideal" customer is, and then create an advertising campaign for them. Once
you know who you're selling to, look for media that targets that
demographic. Depending on your product or service, think community and
neighborhood newspapers, high school sponsor advertising, chamber of
commerce directories, etc.
If your ideal customers aren't defined by a specific geographic location,
look at regional or specific demographic publications. Perhaps a regional
paper runs an annual issue that focuses on an issue or activity that reaches
your target market. Use local cable television to broadcast your ads only in
certain markets. You'll get cheaper rates and a more focused demographic.
|Buy leftover space or
airtime. This is advertising that the publication, radio or television
station hasn't filled by their usual deadline. Of course you'll have to take
the spots that are available, but again, depending on your business and the
product or service you're selling, that inconvenience could still be worth
the discount and the exposure you'll receive.
Use classified ads. They're not just for employment offers any more. You'll
find classified ads in magazines and newspapers. Before writing your ad, go
to your local library, and look through the back issues of the magazine or
newspaper that you're considering. Look at the ads that catch your eye, or
that are repeated month after month. Those ads wouldn't be in there each
month, if they weren't making the advertiser money. Use those ads as
springboards for ideas when you're ready to start writing your own
Always ask for a discounted rate. (Many publications offer an "agency"
discount of up to 15 percent. If you are acting as your own in-house
advertising agency, you might qualify for the special rate.