One of the best forms of advertising is "word-of-mouth," where someone is extremely happy with a product or service and talks to friends about it. But in order to get that initial person, other forms of advertising must be utilized, and the most effective ways depend on who your potential customers are and then matching the best media to reach them.
Determine Your Target Audience
Assess the type of customers you want to make aware of your product or service. Think about who makes the best potential customers for your business. Write down as many categories as you can. A working mother, a high school student, a businessman, a dog owner, a sports enthusiast and a homeowner are some examples of different types or groups of people. Decide which of these types would be in the market for what you offer. Once you identify your target audience, you can then make a better decision as to how to reach them using some of the many different methods of advertising.
The most effective way to reach your target market depends on the type of product or service and the type of people you want to reach. A grocery store sale item is likely to get the best response by running a coupon in a local newspaper. A product that helps fishermen should be advertised in a fishing magazine or on local tide table brochures. Think about all of the various ways you can advertise your business: newspapers, radio, magazines, TV, Internet, billboards, restaurant place mats, posters, church bulletins, coupon books, the phone book's yellow pages, hand-out brochures, and shopping cart placards. Then imagine you are the type of person that would be interested in the product or service you offer, and think about which form of advertising they are most likely to see (or hear).
Your advertising campaign will be most effective if it is timed to special dates or events. A florist, for example, can have customers at any time, because funerals, birthdays and weddings happen all the time. However, targeting males with special deals on roses for Valentine's Day can be most effective in increasing sales. Embroidery graphics shops that make school sports teams shirts, uniforms and hats should do additional advertising prior to the start of the local schools' baseball and football seasons. Ads for a pharmacy can focus on cold remedies just as the winter cold and flu season gears up. Budgeting extra money into advertising at specific times for specialized products and services can generate a good return on your investment.
Frequency of Advertising
On TV, you've noticed that every football game has commercials for beer. Certainly, these companies sell an enormous amount of product, yet they still advertise, targeting programs that sports enthusiasts watch. They want their products to be instantly recognizable and to remain in the minds of the buying public. Small businesses that have limited budgets should consider running smaller ads often, as opposed to spending their entire budget on just a few large ads. Consistency and staying in front of people's "eyes" and "ears" can be most effective in increasing business. Plan on running larger (or in the case of radio, longer and more frequent) ads during special times and events that are most advantageous to your business.