If I came into your office and told you that I would give you a twenty-dollar bill for every dollar you gave me… how often would you like to see me? Chances are you would not want me to leave until you ran out of dollar bills. Well, that is exactly what advertising is supposed to do. Turn $1's into $20's. The problem is, it's not an automatic process. There are guidelines that must be followed or the dollars are wasted and produce nothing. Here are some ideas to keep the $20's flowing.

Two Rules of Advertising

There are two rules of advertising. The first rule says: "Never advertise anywhere unless there is at least a 75% expectation that the ad will produce more than it costs." Advertising must always be an investment; it can never, ever be an expense. It must always produce more in sales than it costs… otherwise, why do it?

The second rule says: "When emotion and logic come into conflict, emotion always wins." Customers will make an emotional decision then create a logical argument to support it.

The Who: Your Ideal Customer

The first key to making advertising pay is doing it to the right people. That means finding your ideal customer or customers. Your target market. These are the people who are most likely to want or need your products and services. These people buy the benefits of your product, not the features of it. So your advertising should be all about them and their needs not about you and yours.

The What: What’s the Message?

Next is the advertising message. Are you a steak house or a hamburger joint? In other words, does your advertising say you are one thing, but when I show up, I find you are something else? Everyone claims to have the best service, largest selection, knowledgeable sales staff, etc., but do you really? Nothing will drive a customer away faster than misperception. In advertising, honesty is always the best policy. If you are a hamburger joint be the best one in history.

All the advertising in the world will produce nothing if the message is missing. In the "who" section you learned that customers buy the benefits, not the features, of a product. The message matches the needs and desires of the customer with the product or service being offered and contains a "call to action."

There must be something in that ad that will cause the customer to act. Come to the store, call an 800 number, visit a web site, redeem a coupon, mail in a rebate or send for free information. Fear of loss is always more powerful than expectation of gain.

Where: The Right Advertising Medium.

The second step in advertising success is finding the advertising medium that most effectively reaches that target market. Notice I did not say anything about the most economical medium, because advertising must pay for itself.

Could you advertise the Hula Hoop on radio? Of course you could and it might be inexpensive to do so. Would it be successful? Probably not, so how economical would that be? Television would be the better vehicle for the Hula Hoop, and would of course, also be the most economical in the long run. Before dismissing radio too quickly, radio could be used very effectively, and economically, to create curiosity about the Hula Hoop in the mind of the consumer.

When: Is There A Right and Wrong Time to Advertise?

The only wrong time to advertise is when it won’t increase your business. Look at your four lowest selling months. Chances are they are grouped closely together. So the question is, would you have gotten the same amount of customers if you had not advertised? Would your previous advertising still have enough clout to bring customers in during your slow times? Obviously there is no way to know this for sure. But one of the things you can do that might shine some light on the question would be to “key” your ads. Put something in the ad that will alert you as to where that customer came from. A coupon might have a code to let you know which paper or magazine the ad ran in. If the ads bring in more customers than normal you have your answer.

The How: What Do You Want Your Ad to Accomplish?

Your advertising has to serve a purpose. Advertising just to be advertising doesn't serve any useful purpose. In most cases you will simply be paying for business you probably would have gotten anyway. What do you want your advertising to accomplish? Build a brand name? Promote a product? Give your advertising a goal as you would any other employee. Advertising must produce.

Some Final Thoughts

Think of advertising as an employee. You want a salesperson to go out and talk to the right people about your products and services. If your selling market were Southwest Montana it wouldn’t make sense to send your salesperson to Texas. So don’t send your advertising to locals where it will not be noticed or productive.

The more accurate you are at identifying your target market and their wants and needs the more successful and inexpensive your advertising will be. So start saving money; advertise today.

Tom Egelhoff is an Amazon best selling author of three business books. His 400+ page web site www.smalltownmarketing.com is one of the oldest continuous sites on the Internet. He has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business” and quoted in business publications in China, Turkey, India and the UK. He hosts “Open for Business” each week, 11-2 PM Mountain Time on http://kmmsam.com

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