“The major mistake small businesses make when marketing their companies offline is that they think that everyone who reads the paper, listens to the radio or watches TV is a prospect.” Heidi Richards Mooney

"creating stellar ads for your small business"The goal of most  small businesses (or any business for that matter) who spend money advertising is to make more sales, get more clients, turn prospects into leads. Let’s face it, most advertising doesn’t pay for small businesses. Some businesses think it’s a “necessary evil” in order to promote their business. I have a confession: I rarely advertise these days, and when I do, it’s with a specific goal, or purpose: to thank a supplier or customer or because it’s a nice thing to do. These reasons seldom bring big pay-offs immediately.

Yes, they will help in the long run. But what if you don’t have lots of advertising money to spend? What do you do? You could spend your money using a particular advertising campaign or medium and wait for the phones to ring off the hook. In reality, it seldom happens that way! You have to create ads for your small business that are memorable and most important call the prospect to action. Its marketing small business offline at its best.

Think about ads you’ve seen in print or on TV that really grabbed you. Is there a particularly funny or memorable slogan or message you remember? We are bombarded daily by thousands of messages, offers and “sound bites.” Eventually we don’t notice them. They become noise to us.

Have you ever bought a new car and as soon as you drive it home you notice all the other cars of the same make and model? It seemed that the car dealer was having a big sale and almost everyone bought your car. Actually, what happened was that since you bought your new Volkswagen, it raised your “awareness” of their existence. Before you purchased your new VW, there were just as many on the road, you just never really noticed them. Your VW became important to you.

The same thing happens with advertising. Most businesses have (or want) to do some sort of advertising. And if you are like businesses, your advertising describes the features of your business; what you have to sell. You probably designed the ad yourself or had a rep or ad agency place the ad for you.

Do you know if your ad brought in any business? If not, you are doing what is known as “Image” advertising. We are familiar with Coca Cola, Ford, Wal-Mart, IBM, and McDonald’s because over the years these mega giants have told us over and over about their products. They have the market share to advertise and throw money into a huge advertising hole without much thought.

However, small businesses don’t have the luxury of throwing money around to see if something works or not. We must leverage every dollar. The only way to do that is to target your market and to have some sort of response device to determine whether or not the market is interested in your product or service.

The major mistake businesses make is that they think that everyone who reads the paper, listens to the radio or watches TV is a prospect. The truth is this often isn’t the case. Small businesses that follow a formula will succeed.

Headlines get attention when geared to a target market. The goal is for potential prospects to read your offer. The fact is that advertisement is geared to do one of two things.

  • Get leads that can be turned into sales
  • Sell directly from the ad

A fancy brochure or ad may win awards, but it’s a waste of money if it doesn’t convert prospects into customers. Create interest – Turn your features into consumer benefits. What are the emotional reasons a prospect should buy from you? Is it because your business has been around for 21 years or because you have fulfilled your customers’ requests for 21 years? Is it because your flowers last longer or because they made Aunt Gladys squeal with joy?

Make a list of the features, and then transfer those features into benefits.

  • Create desire by targeting emotional hot buttons through the description of your benefits. Be different. Most people buy based upon emotion (peace of mind, happiness, looking better, etc.) and they justify their purchases with logic.
  • Be Creative – Create a one-of-a-kind campaign. Do what the competition isn’t doing. Take Chick Fil-A’s bovine advertising campaign. Their use of cows on calendars has become somewhat of a phenomenon. At the end of one Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl, fans stood in long lines as they left the Georgia Dome awaiting their free copy of the calendar. The calendars have spread the cow campaign into markets the company never reached through their TV, radio, and billboard advertising. They even included coupons in the calendar with a 25% redemption rate, which has increased the number of return visits to the restaurants and increased the company’s chance of converting those people into regular customers, after all, isn’t that what advertising is supposed to do?

Advertising is a salesperson in print. Have a “call-to-action” in your ad. Tell them to call, create a sense of urgency, give a deadline, and let the client know what you wish them to do. If you don’t, you are just throwing your advertising money away. The call-to-action should be simple, easy to understand and measurable!