Small Business Advertising:
Planning for Effectiveness

There are two sides to the small business advertising process: 1) developing creative work and 2) deciding which media to use (media planning).

When it’s done right advertising can work very effectively but it is not necessarily the best vehicle for promoting every kind of business.

Business Coaching Insight:

Always test and measure your advertising by incorporating a 'call-to-action'

If you have a very small target audience and a high cost product it may not be cost effective to use advertising.

By nature advertising is a fairly 'blunt instrument'. It reaches a lot of people but many of them may not be in your target.

There are also many variables that determine how successful a small business advertising campaign will be.

Importantly, your product or service must be good. Advertising will not make up for an irrelevant or poor product. 

Criteria for planning advertising campaigns

There are various things to consider when planning an advertising campaign:

1. Target audience

Your starting point must be a clear definition of your target market. This will influence your creative work but also determine which media to use.

2. Creative work:

Good creative work is about the customer, not about the business. Many small business ads make the mistake of just being a list of what you do. To be engaging it needs to have a solid creative idea that is based on the needs and emotions of the customer.

Think about:

  • What need does your product or service fill?
  • What are the benefits of your product to the customer?
  • How will customers feel as a result of buying your product?

2. Time frame

How long do you need to advertise for? New business start-ups sometimes make the mistake of thinking they need one big ad and then lots of customers will come running. However, it never works that way.

One-off ads rarely work. An ad needs to be seen several times before people will take notice and decide to buy and this is especially the case if your product is expensive or low interest (eg. finance) so you will need to run your campaign over a longer time period.

3. Timing & Seasonality

Are there particular times of day, days of week, months etc that you should advertise.

5. Competitors

How are you positioning yourself versus your competitors? Both your creative work and media strategy need to take account of what the rest of your market are doing so you can create a point of difference.

6. Business objectives

Do you want to build brand awareness or generate call-to-action?

It is particularly important for small businesses to incorporate some kind of call-to-action so you get phone calls or enquiries straight away from your small business advertising. This enables you to measure where your business is coming from and find out what's working. 

7. Budget

Just because something’s cheap does not mean it is the right vehicle for your small business advertising campaign. Your media choice should be based on well-targeted media that fits your target audience and the message you’re trying to convey.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What media do you think they like to watch, read and listen to?
  • How will you know if your advertising has been successful?

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