I have two rules of advertising. Rule One: When logic and emotion come into conflict emotion always wins. Rule Two: Never advertise anywhere unless there is at least a 75% expectation that the advertising will produce more than it costs. Advertising must always act as an investment; it can never be an expense.

Cost vs. Value

Using my two rules above does it make sense to find the lowest priced advertising or the most profitable advertising? Let’s look at the Hula Hoop. Would it be more effective to advertise on TV, Newspaper or Radio?

Most people would say TV because the demonstration of the Hula Hoop would be most effective. Perhaps a TV campaign would cost $5,000 but produced over $100,000 in sales. Did the cost really matter? Paying that bill would not be a big deal.

You could also add radio to that mix because that medium could be used to build curiosity about the Hula Hoop. Radio can paint a mind picture of how much fun your kids would have and where you can see a demo of the Hula Hoop. In addition to cost, look at ways to use each advertising medium available to it’s maximum effectiveness.

Low-Cost Ideas

  • Radio stations are great opportunities to reach your target market. You can cut spots and have them on the air quickly. The better you know your demographics the more effective radio can be. Donate a prize for on-air giveaways and contests. Sponsor a show that features your industry or business.
  • Turn Your Car Into a Moving Ad. Bumper stickers, magnetic signs, company name on license plate holders are great attention getters. Don’t forget your phone. Everyone has a cell phone and just might call you when they see you.
  • Build Your Business With Employees: All employees should have business cards and give them an incentive to give them out to people. If someone brings the card in the employee gets something. Time off, a bonus based on the size of the sale, etc.
  • Invoices Make Great Coupons: Most computer generated invoices have a spot for a personal message. Use that to bring customers back over and over. Give them a discount on their next visit or purchase they do with you.

Some Final Thoughts

Stop thinking in terms of cost, and start thinking in terms of value. Your competition is trying every way they can think of to reach your customers. If they are successful it’s going to cost you six times more money to replace that customer than to keep them. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in advertising and reap the rewards?

Most businesses in smaller communities live and die by word-of-mouth. There is nothing more powerful than a satisfied customer recommending your business to someone else. Ask customers for referrals. The more people are exposed to your name, the stronger your business will be. It’s not how much you spend, but how and where you spend it. What low cost advertising tips have you successfully used?