Hopefully that is exactly the way you feel…because if you WANT to advertise chances are you shouldn’t. Why? It’s an expense and like baseball it fails more often than it succeeds. One reason for its failure is because of incompetence on both client, vendors and agencies and the other reason is that it is an extremely arduous, stressful, shot in the dark process of getting someone to change their routine and switch to your product or to believe that your new ‘fad’ is worth their hard earned money. So if you’re lucky enough to have solid foot traffic, or are successful with an ad in the phone book and online listings…by all means stick with it, offer good service and your positive word of mouth will naturally grow your business. However…if you are not that lucky…do not go out and spend a ton of money. Do not listen to any radio, print, TV or cable salespeople that darken your doorstep and throw a bunch of ad lingo at you and a $5,000 package for one or two week’s worth of advertising. It won’t work. You might see a slight uptick in your business at first, but not enough to offset the $5,000 you just spent for two week’s of advertising…and guess what? Your ad message just sailed through the air and is gone. It’s not coming back…it’s not ever going to do anything else for you.
But you’ve got to do something right? You’ve been patient. You’ve sat and waited. You put the sandwich board outside your front door and people are not coming in on their own. So what should you do? The first thing you should do is look at your finances and come up with a realistic budget. And be just that…realistic. Don’t increase your ad budget by 10% and expect a 10% increase in traffic. It doesn’t work that way. Work up a number that makes sense for you long term and by long term I mean a monthly expenditure that you will be able to afford for the next 12 to 18 months. Because the process of educating your market about what you do takes time and if you stop in the middle…everything that came before is now wasted. You could advertise for six months straight and if you stop then…guess what…all of those impressions you made are gone. They are gone and now what are you going to do for month seven? So you’ve got to be strong and realistic when it comes to your budget.
Second…you need to determine your marketing area because this, along with your budget, will also determine the best media for you to use. Again…be realistic. If you run a sub shop…people are not likely to travel more than five miles (if that far) to come get a sub. If they do…please send me a cheesesteak, because they must be really good. If you own a car dealership, for instance, check out where your like-minded competition is (same make) and then draw a ten mile radius around your store and that is your primary marketing area. Draw a ten mile radius around your competition…you typically won’t have much luck going into those areas, but the space between is up for grabs and you should consider cost effective ways to reach those unclaimed customers. Depending on whether you own a service business, a restaurant, a store front, or you are completely online will determine your marketing area. And again be realistic about the customers you can reach and can reach you…because that will save you a lot of wasted money and increase your chances of success.
So your homework is to determine a realistic budget and to determine your marketing area. To determine your marketing area be realistic about how far customer’s are likely to travel for your product / service and then take into consideration your competition. Sometimes you might shy away from competition and sometimes you’ll need to get in their grill a little.