Advertising is one of a number of ways to market your business and products. While you might have face-to-face contact with many of your potential customers, there is a limit to how much direct selling you and / or your sales team can do. Advertising throws the net wider, and exploits the capacity of mass media like newspapers, radio and television to reach thousands of people at a time.

It also lets you speak to that audience in your own words – so you can get creative, and get inside the mind of your target market. An advertisement promotes not just your product, and indeed not just your business; advertising can be a way of generating feelings and expectations among readers and viewers that make them consider your product above others.

Small or young businesses usually have smaller and more focused markets that can be reached more cost-effectively by direct marketing methods. For this reason, advertising will often be employed only once the company grows and wants to address a larger market and project a more corporate image. On the other hand, certain businesses (like bed and breakfast establishments) rely heavily on advertising for their custom and must budget for advertising costs from day one.

Advertising - Targeting

Ask yourself what media your target audience read or watch, and consider the other kinds of advertising activity competing for their attention. The media you can consider include:

Newspapers (local and national).

  • Magazines (consumer magazines and trade journals).

  • Directories.

  • Commercial Radio.

  • Television.

  • Cinema.

  • Outdoor, eg on billboards, posters, on buses or on the subway.

  • Internet.

Every business needs to inform potential customers of its existence, but choosing the right means of advertising is not easy. Without proper planning, advertising can be an expensive waste of time. The more you know about your market the better informed your decision to advertise will be. As part of a planned strategy, proper use of advertising creates awareness and generates sales of your products/services.

Often your choice of media will emerge naturally from the research you do into your market. Industrial markets are best suited to advertising in trade magazines and direct mail. Consumer markets will use more popular media such as local press, radio and television. A business which relies on a very localized market, e.g. a convenience store, may only require a leaflet delivery to householders in the area.

Various directories are available to assist you in determining which media is most appropriate to your needs and a number of agencies are involved in researching audience profiles for various media.

In choosing media, consideration must be given to the following:

  • Target market media habits: where are they, what do they watch, etc?

  • Nature of unique selling points: a balance must be struck between the media image and the type of product. The media must also be able to convey the correct appeal.

  • Complexity of the message: a detailed message requires more frequent exposure in order for it to be retained.

  • Competition for audience attention: is there too much noise/clutter in the media under consideration? If so, will this distract audience attention?

  • Media cost.


Writing Copy

Advertising Campaign

In order to determine the success of a campaign and the effectiveness of the media chosen, advertising results must be measured. A simple way of doing this is to ask customers how they heard about the business, whenever a contact is made. In the long term a pattern should emerge.

Some forms of advertising may be very successful at attracting attention, but not all enquiries will necessarily convert into sales. This is not just undesirable in terms of the value for money from spending on advertising, it can also be expensive for a small business to handle a large number of casual enquiries that do not generate income. It is therefore important to evaluate your enquiry sources in terms of the sales they each generate.

Such methods are really only of use where you are looking for a direct response, usually by telephone, from the customer. Other forms of advertising are more difficult to evaluate. It is hard to know if an increase in sales is due to good advertising, or some external factor such as a decline in competition. An advertisement may have reached the right audience, but with the wrong message.

Such issues can only be explored properly through the use of in-depth advertising research methods such as surveys and recall tests, and even then the answers can be ambiguous. Otherwise the well established small business must rely on their own understanding of what type of people their customers are, and how they make their purchasing decisions.

Useful Tips

  • If someone responds to your advertising or publicity by telephone then they are clearly in the market for your product/service. Ensure that you record their name and address. If an order is not forthcoming, then you will at least be able to follow up the enquiry.

  • If possible pre-test any advertising before its launch. This will reveal any problems likely to occur before any investment is made.

  • Be aware of new advertising opportunities, eg access to cable TV and digital broadcasting - could these provide a forum for your business promotion?

The cost of advertising to a business will vary greatly depending on the methods used. A national television advertising campaign will obviously cost far more than a short slot on the local radio. A smaller business is more likely to use locally targeted advertising initiatives in order for costs to be proportionate to the overall cost of producing and selling the product.

Advertising That Works

How to make your advertising work

There are various ways to make sure that your advertising gets through to people and encourages them to try (or continue using) your product. Here are a few:

  • Have a clear message. The simpler and clearer the message, the more effective it will be. The advert should say exactly what is offered in as few words as possible, in a memorable and original fashion.

  • Give your advertisement entertainment value. Advertising is increasingly expected to entertain the customer.

  • You could try using shock tactics. This is a high-risk strategy and may not be suitable to your product or market. Get advice on staying within the law, and have a look at your local Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion.

  • Ensure top-class design and layout. Good design (in an increasingly design-conscious age) is important and simplicity is the key. If a business invests in the production of a good, eye-catching logo, it can be used repeatedly in advertisements.

  • Adopt an appropriate image. It is important to develop the right image for your market. It is possible to produce advertising that is highly effective but reaches the wrong people, or gives the right people the wrong impression. For example, an up-market business is likely to choose a restrained, professional image whereas a discount store will benefit from a direct and attention-grabbing style.

Professional help

Advertising today is a highly professional business, with high levels of artistic and technical skill required to keep up with the standards to which consumers are accustomed. A business embarking on an advertising campaign will normally need expert input on aspects like concept, design, make-up, placement and impact assessment. Ideally, you should be in a position to engage an advertising agency, which will work with you in achieving your advertising goals.

Decide as early as possible how important advertising will be in your business's promotion strategy; then set a budget and specific targets for your advertising.

  • Advertisements should be given a chance to work. Too many are discarded before they begin to pay off.

  • Review your spending, sales, customer feedback and other targets regularly.

  • Consider using the Internet to advertise the business and its products or services.

The most difficult part of advertising is often just coming up with the idea. Even the most successful writers can get stuck at times. Here are some ways to produce advertising ideas that SELL!

First of all, it is important to get the facts. You need to know specific facts about the product as well as facts about the audience you want to target. Get all of the information you can! Read magazines, flyers, newsletters, and even junk mail. Also, talk with people. Go to classes and seminars or attend meetings. You never know when the information you learn will be useful.

Try using a checklist. When you're stuck for an idea, a checklist can help you come up with different possibilities or strategies. You could make a checklist for headlines, or a checklist for why people buy products. This will help you get headed in the right direction.

Get feedback. The way you see your ideas may be completely different than the way others see them. Show your rough ideas to others. Or, have someone look at your finished copy and give you their opinion on how it might be improved.

Try teaming up. If you are a copywriter, you could team up with an art director. Or if you are an entrepreneur you might team up with a corporate manager. A partner can expand upon your ideas and could make them even better.

Sleep on it! Sometimes you need to just put the problem aside. You're probably thinking about it way too much. You might be surprised when the perfect idea comes to you "out of the blue."

Advertising is the most used marketing tool, yet it is also one of the most ineffective because too many people, especially the creative types in bow ties, see it as an art. It is, in fact, mostly a science, and those who obey the rules should prosper.

For most small businesses, advertising is restricted to either print or radio, although outdoor poster sites may also be considered when targeting very specific areas.

Advertising - Strategy

Regardless of media, a strategy is needed, the starting point of which is setting an objective. The clearer and easier to measure, the better. Examples include:

  • To create direct sales

  • To build brand/company image

  • To communicate specific messages e.g. product recalls, sales dates etc

  • To counter negative publicity/competitor activity

The objective should also be reasonably attainable. For example, it is easier to get people to change brands than to change such consuming habits as buying new product categories.

The target audience should be identified because, without knowing the audience, it is virtually impossible to choose a medium or a message. Define the customer profile by considering the following attributes:

  • age

  • gender

  • income

  • married or single

  • family or couples

  • housing type

  • car ownership

  • hobbies

  • holiday preferences

  • attitudes to the product and to competitors

The profile helps to personalise the message to an individual rather than an anonymous group.

The advertising should fit an overall marketing plan. Acme Car Repairs might, for example, have spent years developing an image of friendliness, reliability and high quality.

Customers, possibly with expensive cars, use the service because they trust a thorough job will be done and are willing to pay extra for it. To suddenly bring in advertising based on cut price, while-you- wait offers could alienate the core market and cost the business its unique selling proposition (USP).

Advertising should, therefore, explain and enhance the USP and define how it differs from the competition.

A common mistake, however, is to emphasise the obvious, rather than the important. That Acme Car Repairs mends cars is obvious. That it specialises in certain models and guarantees work for two years is not.

Do not insult the intelligence of the customer by making false offers. A claim that a product will remove red wine stains from a carpet should be true.

Advertising your product or service through print is one of the most powerful methods of promotion. However, all too often we end up wasting our efforts and resources on ineffective advertising. Since more than 3000 advertising messages bombard us each day, you can use these simple steps to increase your advertising’s effectiveness and reach through all the clutter.

  • Get Attention: The purpose of your headline or visual should be to get the reader’s attention immediately. Depending on the product or service your promoting, there are many headline types to choose from ranging from direct (Buy Now and Save!) to Testimonials (“I never thought it was so easy!”), and several in-between.

  • Stimulate Interest: Once your headline has stopped the reader in their tracks, the next goal of your ad should be to propel them deeper into the ad itself through relevant content or an interesting message. You’ve got their attention, now it’s the ad’s job to keep it. If you ensure that your ad messages are targeted and focused, your ad’s likelihood of success is greater.

  • Stimulate Desire: Its at this point in the ad that you convert the reader’s interest into desire or demand for your product or service. Connecting to the reader’s desire for achievement, acquisition or affinity with tangible benefits will increase your ad’s potential for a sale.

  • Call to Action: It is amazing how often we forget to close the sale in our advertising. Make sure you not only provide a means for the reader to contact you or purchase your product or service, but tell them to do it! Don’t be afraid of telling the reader exactly what it is you want them to do.

These four points can be easily remembered by using the anacronym AIDA. The next time you develop an ad, try following these steps. And, don’t forget to make sure you can measure your ad’s effectiveness—if you don’t, how will you know if it was money well spent?

How you advertise and promote your goods and services may make or break your business. Having a good product or service and not advertising and promoting it is like not having a business at all. Many business owners operate under the mistaken concept that the business will promote itself, and channel money that should be used for advertising and promotions to other areas of the business. Advertising and promotions, however, are the life line of a business and should be treated as such.

Devise a plan that uses advertising and networking as a means to promote your business. Develop short, descriptive copy (text material) that clearly identifies your goods or services, its location and price. Use catchy phrases to arouse the interest of your readers, listeners or viewers. In the case of a franchise, the franchisor will provide advertising and promotional materials as part of the franchise package, you may need approval to use any materials that you and your staff develop. Whether or not this is the case, as a courtesy, allow the franchisor the opportunity to review, comment on and, if required, approve these materials before using them. Make sure the advertisements you create are consistent with the image the franchisor is trying to project. Remember the more care and attention you devote to your marketing program, the more successful your business will be.

Most advertising you see today is written extremely poorly. It confuses the prospect, doesn’t paint a desired picture in their mind, doesn’t give a reason to order now, and focuses on features, not the benefits. Most failed businesses can be tracked back to poor advertising, although there are any other reasons for failure.

Effective Advertising

If you want to stay in business, you must learn how to advertise effectively and how to produce orders NOW! This is what we will be working on in this manual, so be prepared to change your advertising and to fill your mailbox with orders!

There is a creative money making genius on the inside of you. You just need to learn how to let it out. No matter what business you have, whether it is a small retail store, a consulting service, a house cleaning service, or a mail order business, you must learn to create advertising that gets results. If you don’t, your business will be painful and short-lived.

First of all, let us look at the two major (And different) reasons for advertising. Number one is for exposure. Most television commercials and many newspaper ads and magazine ads are made for this purpose.

The Advertiser wants their name exposed to the public and for the viewer to think of them next time they are ready to make a purchase. Major corporations are the ones who will do this kind of advertising. They have the budget to constantly expose their name to the public and wait for their orders to come as people become more used to them and their advertising.

Classifieds are of a little different nature, but they work on the same premise. You don’t ask for a sale right from the classified (Which would be a large mistake because there just isn’t enough room in a classified to make sales).

Even asking for one dollar in a classified ad reduces your response greatly. You will have them call your 800 number voicemail or your fax-on-demand in which they will receive an offer and a chance to order NOW!

In all advertising, you must ask for the order NOW or get out of business!

Advertising Media - Advantages and Disadvantages

The various types of advertising media have different advantages and disadvantages. A guide to the general strengths and weaknesses of the major media types is set out in the table illustrated.





(Local and national newspapers)

(a) Short lead times.
(b) Can be used to get direct response (eg from reply coupons).
(c) Used by readers as a point of reference/shopping list.
(d) Relatively cheap means of reaching large numbers of people.
(e) Allows for repetition of advertisements.
(f) Can act as an incentive for traders to stock product.
(g) Allows for audience/geographic selectivity. 

(a) Audience read selectively.
(b) Short life span.
(c) Low attention.
(d) Clutter.

(Consumer magazines and specialist trade journals)

(a) Large circulation.
(b) High pass-on readership.
(c) High quality reproduction and colour.
(d) Relatively long life.
(e) Read in leisurely fashion.
(f) Well segmented audience.
(g) Potential for high information content.
(h) Allows for sales promotion inserts.

(a) Expensive.
(b) Distant copy dates.
(c) Advertisements featured by competitors.
(d) Clutter.


(a) Relatively cheap.
(b) Long life.
(c) Constant source of new customers.

(a) Limited message.
(b) Poor at attracting attention.
(c) Long lead times.
(d) Clutter.

Commercial Radio

(a) Large, localised and well segmented audience.
(b) Flexible deadlines.
(c) Can repeat the message often which facilitates local recognition.

(a) Short life span.
(b) Fleeting message.
(c) Production can be difficult and expensive.
(d) Verbal message only.
(e) Low attention gain.
(f) Clutter.


(a) High attention gain due to high creativity eg colour, movement and sound.
(b) Good for company image.
(c) Allows for audience and geographic selectivity.
(d) Frequent exposure.
(e) Massive coverage.

(a) Short life span.
(b) Fleeting message.
(c) Relatively high production and airtime costs.
(d) Clutter.


(a) Mass market.
(b) Frequent exposure.
(c) Large screen visual impact with high creative impact of colour and sound.

(a) Fleeting message.
(b) High production costs.
(c) Difficult to establish audience profile.

(Billboards, posters, transport)

(a) High impact with colour and size variations.
(b) Relatively cheap.
(c) Long life.
(d) High coverage of selected target area.
(e) Good in reminder advertising.

(a) Short exposure time.
(b) Limited message.
(c) Unsuitable for unknown or complicated products.
(d) Requires large scale distribution.
(e) Defacement (eg weather, vandals)

Direct Mail

(a) High information content.
(b) Can use prepared mailing lists.
(c) Can be personalised.

(a) Creating and updating a mailing list.
(b) Poor image.


(a) Low production and distribution costs.
(b) Blanket coverage of target area.

(a) Short life span.
(b) Poor image.
(c) Open to abuse in distribution.
(d) Clutter.

Point of Sale Material

(a) Relatively cheap.
(b) Good method of reinforcing the advertising message.
(c) Can act as an incentive for traders to stock product.

(a) Only reaches those customers already likely to buy.

(eg sports events)

(a) Gains local credibility and company recognition.

(a) Low returns and time consuming.

Exhibitions/Trade Fairs

(a) Large target audience.
(b) Attracts new customers/consolidates existing ones.
(c) Reaches large numbers of customers simultaneously.

(a) Expensive and time consuming.
(b) Clutter.

Unusual forms
(eg on milk bottles)

(a) Good coverage and segmentation potential.

(a) Coming up with ideas and convincing others it's a good idea.

The Internet

(a) Potential for immediate global impact.
(b) Many creative options for design.

(a) Users do not have to read advertisements.
(b) Can be expensive to set up.
(c) Doesn't target selectively.

The Advertising Agency

There are so many different ways to advertise, so many different 'audiences' and so many different media that getting the best out of advertising is a highly skilled job. It involves experts in many different fields - writers, artists, photographers, designers, television production crews and many others. Few of even the largest advertisers could afford to keep all these experts on their staff. Almost all advertising is arranged through an advertising agency which provides the skilled people who can turn the message into an effective advertisement. The agency is the link between the advertiser and the media where the advertisement will appear.

There is another good reason for using an agency. The advertiser will probably be too close to the business to see clearly how the message will look to the public. The staff of an agency can look at the message from the public's point of view.

What the agency does

The advertising agency finds out what message the advertiser wants to give to the audience, turns it into a piece of art-work for a newspaper or magazine, or into a commercial for TV or cinema, or a poster, and gives advice on which media should be used. But it can do much more than that. The best way to show how an agency works is to take an example of a particular campaign.

A strong Business Plan may not guarantee success; but it could certainly prevent failure!

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