Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ghetto Budget Advertising Article

Entrepreneurs who are experts at what they do are often not experts on advertising. They may make mistakes that can adversely affect their business. Here are 10 advertising mistakes for small businesses to avoid:

Hiring the wrong consultants. Be sure that you don't pay an advertising consultant or agency on a commission basis. Commission agreements mean that the more you spend the more they make. That may lead to ill-advised recommendations. If you need to hire a consultant, be sure to check references. Find someone who is already working with a friend or colleague.
Using space advertising that is too small. Don't waste money buying space ads too small to tell your story. Buy adequate space and save money by running it less often.
One exception is: if you have a product with a strong visual, then you can get along with smaller space.
Not having a website. I don't care who you are or what you're selling, if you don't have a website you don't appear to be legitimate. Today, a website is an invaluable source of information, like a yellow pages listing with benefits. As a potential customer, if I can't go online at my leisure and check out your business, what you sell, your location your phone number, then I'm not going to buy from you.
Not capturing customer data. If you aren't compiling your customer's contact information and setting it up for e-mail and direct mail, you are throwing away a huge opportunity for low-cost or no-cost sales. No matter how small you are, you should be communicating regularly with your customers through email.
Wrong kinds of communication with your customers. Are you emailing your customers regularly but not including a money-saving offer? If you are, then you may be wasting their time and yours.
Not keeping track of the lifetime value of your customers. Getting customers is expensive. You don't know what you can afford to pay for a customer if you don't know how much revenue you can expect each customer to generate over their lifetime with you. This number, called the "LTV" (lifetime value) should be recalculated over time.
Not branding every message from your company. Branding means selecting a logo, color scheme, type font, tag line, overall look and other features that remain the same no matter what communication goes out from your company. Whether it's a TV commercial, newspaper ad, email communication or just a letter - every communication must uphold the image of your brand.
Lack of respect for creative talent. Copywriters get discouraged with clients who listen to their well-thought out, targeted, tightly written copy only to say, "Yes, that's good, but my cousin Bernie says we should say..." Find a top-notch copywriter you trust and stick with his or her copy. Don't tell them how to write; they don't tell you how to run your company.
Incorrect forecasting. Under buying or overbuying can kill a business. How do you know how much product will sell? If you use direct marketing, you should be able to read your results and project sales with reasonable accuracy. In fact you might be able to use direct marketing results to help forecast retail sales. For example, if the small black attaché case was a big hit in your catalog, perhaps it belongs in a highly visible spot on your sales floor? While results are not always easily translated from catalogs to retail, often they are. At least it will be an educated guess, made through proven responses and sales.
"I don't need advertising. I rely on word-of-mouth." Word-of-mouth is great, but you can't control word-of-mouth. Advertising is the best way to get the word out the way you want it, when you want it, about your company, products and services. Even if you can't afford a big budget, some advertising is better than none. Ignoring advertising may make your climb to success uphill all the way.
Jean C. Joachim is the author of "151 Quick Ideas for Advertising on a Shoestring," published in February by Career Press. The book is written for the small business community.