Increased sales depend on a unified, coherent, and consistent marketing program; and advertising is one of marketing’s major activities. The success of many businesses depends on effective advertising, which these days can be quite expensive. The following guidelines will help you to maximise your advertising dollar…

1. Be aware that advertising can work.

‘I don’t believe in advertising. We ran an ad three years ago and didn’t get one call!’ Plenty of businesses say this each time the idea of advertising is raised – but they never get around to evaluating where the ad was placed, what it said, its size, its audience and particularly why they thought a one-shot ad would produce results. If only they had considered the following advice:

2. Select the appropriate media.

The key to successful advertising is to use the right medium to reach the right people – national, state, and local newspapers and magazines, radio, television, letterbox flyers, posters, Internet, direct mailings, sandwich boards, etc. Different media can reach different audiences, so again you’ll need to do your homework to achieve the best result. Avoid basing your buying decision solely on the price of the advertisement. In fact, for best results, it might be best to advertise through several media outlets at the same time.

3. Get inside the customer’s head.

In planning your advertisement or campaign, always start with the customer or prospect. You may need to seek the assistance of research to answer such questions as: What problem can we solve for the customer? What does the customer want? What do we have on offer that other organisations do not? Do we have a solution for the customer – or just a product?

4. Use a quality advertisement.

It will cost you more money to produce a quality advertisement but, if results are what you are looking for, investing in quality is well worth the cost. Remember, you’ll be competing with other businesses for the attention of the reader, listener, or viewer. The longer you can hold your potential customers’ attention, the better your chances of convincing them that they want what you are offering – and you’ll have more chance of doing that with quality advertisements. You may well require the services of an advertising agency to generate a quality ad.

5. Make it easy for the prospect to respond.

Whatever and however you’re advertising, it’s essential that you make it a simple process for an interested customer to seek further information or to make a purchase. Display a toll-free number prominently, or provide a credit card facility, or offer a pre-paid postcard or envelope for the reply.

6. Attract prospects with irresistible benefits.

The aim of your advertising should be to convince customers that they will derive immense benefit from what you are offering. In addition to old-fashioned ‘reliability’, ‘dependability’, and ‘after sales service’, we now see attractive discounts, free steak knives, two-for-the-price-of-one and buy-one-get-one-free offers, delayed payments, free gifts, and a range of other eye-catching sweeteners. What can your business offer prospective customers or clients in terms of traditional values and sweeteners?

7. Plan and follow an advertising schedule.

If you run your advertisement once, it is highly unlikely that a majority of people will even see or hear it – let alone respond to it. And just because it appears, does not mean that everyone is even ready to respond. The aim of advertising is to be out there just when someone needs you, your product, or your service. Little wonder that research tells us, to be effective, an advertisement must run three to seven times.

8. Get value for your money.

Stretch your advertising dollar by making each advertisement work and work and work. For example, be sure to reprint your advertisements and mail them, together with a personal note, to existing customers and prospects. Tell them where the advertisement appears and why. You’ll be getting double value for your outlay as well as ensuring that those who missed it haven’t after all.

9. Remember: advertising is only part of your total marketing program.

Check out the opportunities to produce and distribute additional promotional materials to support your advertising. Some years ago, for example, one major petrol company’s ‘put a tiger in your tank’ advertisements followed up with such gimmicks as tiger tail petrol tank caps, and another company’s ‘reliable, cheerful, trustworthy Stanley’ in the advertisements was then transported around the country for guest appearances. Combine your advertising with press releases and media stories about your company and its services and products.

Finally, remember that when business is good, it pays to advertise; when business is bad, you’ve got to.

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