How to advertise your small business | BDC.ca
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How to avoid pitfalls in advertising your business

Follow these eight rules to get the most bang for your buck

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Everyone wants to reach more prospects to close more sales, and advertising is a good way to do that. However, how do you get the biggest bang for your advertising buck?

By following a few basic rules, you can develop effective messages, choose the right advertising medium and get the most out of an advertising agency if you choose to use one.

Rule 1: Get your branding ready

Developing your organization’s brand is the first step in creating an effective advertising strategy. Your branding should position your company in the market and equip you to reach your audience with the right messages.

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Rule 2: Create an advertising plan

Next, create an advertising plan as part of your larger marketing plan. It should include objectives and a budget.

What are you trying to accomplish with your advertising? Are you trying to introduce your company to the public? Promote a new product? Or announce a special promotion?

Next, identify the key benefit your business offers—the unique reason customers would want to buy from you and not you competitors.

Rule 3: Understand your audience

Every type of advertising has pros and cons. In deciding which one best suits your goals, first assess your audience.

  • What age group do your customers typically fall into?
  • Are they typically male or female?
  • What are their concerns and personal habits?
  • What kind of media do they consume?
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Rule 4: Select the best advertising medium

The three main categories of advertising vehicles are:

  • Online marketing, such as your website, social media properties and email campaigns. To learn more, download BDC’s free online marketing eBook.
  • Electronic media, including television and radio.
  • Print media such as newspapers, newsletters, magazines, circulars and signs.
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Rule 5: Go for a professional product

Remember, if your ads are amateurish, badly produced or appearing in the wrong places at the wrong time, your results will be diminished and your reputation potentially harmed. These pointers are valid for advertising in just about any medium.

  • Keep it simple and concise.
  • Prominently display your key messages and contact information.
  • Avoid reverse type (white text on a dark background) as this is hard to read.
  • Use only high-quality photography and visuals.
  • Use customer testimonials to build credibility.
  • Highlight the benefits of your products, rather than their features.
  • Avoid criticizing your competitors.
  • Have a compelling call to action—a message that asks customers to do something, typically make a purchase.

Rule 6: Get the most out of communication specialists

Advertising and marketing agencies offer a wide range of services from conception to production. If you’re planning online advertising, consult an agency that specializes in that area. A less expensive option is to hire a freelance copywriter or designer who can help you find the right concept and marry visuals with text.

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Rule 7: Shop around for an agency

When you’re trying to choose a firm, you will want to shop around, gathering referrals, looking at past campaigns and getting proposals.

Once you’ve made your choice, make sure to check references and then sign a written contract, specifying deadlines and costs.

Rule 8: Cooperate with your agency

  • Let the agency do its thing. Offer your ideas and feedback, but respect the expertise of the people you’ve hired.
  • Talk directly to the creative team. Insist on direct, face-to-face (or at least telephone) contact with them.
  • Simplify the approval process by allowing a limited number of people to deal with the agency and sign off on projects.
  • Be generous with compliments. A sincere compliment goes a long way toward making agency people feel appreciated.
  • Be prepared to pay a fair price if you want top-quality work.

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