When business is good, it pays to advertise; when business is bad, you’ve got to advertise. Advertising is the mouthpiece of business. It is essential. Retailers are offered a multitude of avenues to promote their products; the greatest challenge is deciding where to invest your advertising dollar to get the maximum return. Advertising your business, services, and products does not have to be haphazard. You can plan, measure and monitor your advertising activities…

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1. Consider your audience.

If you do not know your target audience, and you blanket advertise, you will be wasting your advertising budget. Everyone’s target market will be different, which is why you need to consider, firstly, such general variables as:

  • the geographic location of your business and your audience – passers-by, workers, or residents
  • the age group you wish to attract
  • the gender you are targeting
  • the primary socio-economic group you are hoping to draw upon
  • the occupations of your audience.

2. Target your specific audience.

Having reflected upon your general advertising framework, you should become more focused on the individual customer. Marketers often use the term SPADE to focus retailers on their real target audience:

Starter – The person who initiates the enquiry

Purchaser – The person who pays for the goods

Adviser – The person who influences the decision

Decider – The real authority on what to buy

End user – The consumer of the product.

This may be one person or five different people. At each stage they are looking for different benefits. Your final advertising thrust should reflect this customer analysis by promoting to the selected target audience the benefits of your product.

3. Select the appropriate advertising media.

Once you have decided on your target audiences, you can then decide on the appropriate advertising media you should use to get their attention. Among the media available to you are:

National newspapers – Expensive, but ideal for nationwide retail chains.

Regional newspapers – Have immediate impact but remember, yesterday’s newspaper is old news.

Local newspapers – Have excellent household penetration and can be very cost effective.

Trade magazines – Well read and very targeted.

Local directories – Very effective, but you must plan well in advance.

Radio – Local radio and community radio are becoming more and more popular. This is a useful medium to consider.

Posters – Often linked to major advertising campaigns.

Street benches – Useful in high traffic areas. The message should be rotated every few months.

Public transport advertising – Moving messages on buses, trains and taxis must be simple, bold and short. Get them right and they work.

Television – Regional television is very cost effective. Only large retailers can afford metropolitan television. Ask your local television station; their advice is valuable.

Sponsorship – Always sponsor local events attended by your target audience. It gives credibility to you as a neighbourhood retailer and one of the ‘local good guys’.

Parking meters – These work in the United Kingdom: over 35,000 meters are used by 5.5 million motorists a week.

Point of sale display – Remember, internal advertising is always more cost effective than external advertising. You know you will hit your target.

Letterbox-flyers, direct mailings, the Internet, sandwich boards… and the list goes on.

4. Do your homework before deciding.

Before deciding on which medium best suits your business, do your research. Contact as many advertising outlets as possible that suit your target audience. Ask for details on costs and evidence of how effective they are at reaching your target. Always keep notes of discussions so you can refer to them at a later date.

5. Keep to the advertising standards.

Most countries have advertising standards and an authority that monitors such standards. Regulations on advertising vary from country to country, but the following guidelines should always be adhered to:

  • Advertisements should be legal, inoffensive, and truthful.
  • Advertisements should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the consumer and society.
  • Advertisements should conform to the principles of fair competition.

6. Monitor the penetration cost of advertising.

It’s important to look beyond the cost of the advertisement. Look at its penetration rate. This is not an easy assignment but – how many of your target audience did it reach? Begin with your team. Advise them of what advertisements you have taken out and have them monitor the number of new customers who come in as a result of your advertising campaign. In this way, you can determine how much it costs to get a new customer. In many cases, a new customer or client has to return to your premises three times before you make a profit from them. Your staff need to know this and commit themselves to your advertising initiative.

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