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Advertising Isn’t An Expense; It’s An Investment!

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I spend most of my time talking and writing about small business. The vast majority of businesses in the US are less than 10 employees. Most are family owned and don’t have big bucks to hire marketing or advertising agencies to create a massive advertising campaign for them. So what do they do? In most cases they guess, cross their fingers and pray that whatever advertising method they choose will pay off in increased business.

How Advertising Works

The first step is determining what you want your advertising to accomplish. You might want to build a brand name for your new business, or you might want to promote new products or services you will be offering.

Next, you want to identify the people most likely to be affected by your message. You are always thinking in terms of benefits to your customers. How do you make their lives better?

Some Low or No Cost Advertising Ideas

Getting your name out doesn’t have to break the bank. There are low cost ways to get your name out at little or no cost. These are not going to be as affective as traditional advertising, but they can help expose your name to a few more people.

  • Try online directories: Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local are all free listing that will help online shoppers find your local business.
  • Free Newspaper Listings: The Bozeman Chronicle has a “People in Business” and “Business Briefs” in every Sunday edition. Monitor these sections both for a place to post your own announcements, but to also alert you to potential customers for your own business. Also do some research for doing your own press releases.
  • Your Personal Vehicle: I’m not a big fan of bumper stickers on cars but it’s a fact of life that people read them. So you might want to consider a business bumper sticker on your personal vehicle. If you don’t want to attach it to your bumper them tape it on the inside of your rear window. It will be easily removable for times you might not want it there. Make sure you include a readable phone number.
  • Donate a Prize: Radio stations are always looking for interesting and creative promotions. Donate a prize to the station in trade for a name mention.
  • Cross Promotion: A tire store and a local mechanic might team up to recommend each other’s products and services with coupons or offers to each other’s customers.
  • Put Your Invoices To Work: Most invoices have a spot where you can include a personal message. This is an ideal spot to feature a discount on the customer’s next visit.
  • A Facebook Business Page: This is a great place to build your brand as well as developing customers by providing what every customer is craving for — information. Show them how good you really are.

Some Final Thoughts

The most important rules to remember — customers buy benefits. Your advertising must solve their problem or benefit them in some way. Also, advertising must always be an investment; it can never be an expense. It must produce more income than it costs to produce and run the ad.

Build your business with the idea of investing in more and more advertising. It’s one of the few aspects of your business that pays for itself. What low cost advertising ideas have worked for your business? Comment below.

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