Tips on Small Business Advertising–Part 1

Small business owners are often skeptical about advertising,  and they should be.  Effective advertising needs to communicate the benefits of buying from you.  Most small business advertising goes something like this, “I’m Joe, and my company is Joe’s Flooring.  We’re at 12345 Main Street in Anycity.  Come on down and buy from me.”  And there’s nothing in there that’s going to motivate me to touch base with Joe. 

I know he sells flooring but that’s it.  Think about changing the game by providing information in your ads that makes someone a better consumer in your industry.  Educate them about your industry and you’ll develop trust faster.

For small businesses with more limited budgets, 2 Step Direct Response Advertising is probably the most powerful form of advertising.  The idea here is for your ad to generate a qualified response or action—not to make the sale.  The idea is to run advertising that offers free or low-cost information or services only.  When you offer a free how-to report, or tip sheet, or industry scoop or any other valuable information, you build trust and the idea behind any kind of marketing is to build trust to take the relationship with that prospect to the next level.

A typical 2 Step Direct Response ad asks prospects to visit a website or call a phone number and exchange some basic contact information for the valuable report and free kit.  In order for people to get excited about that report or free kit, it needs to provide some valuable information, otherwise your prospects won’t be interested and won’t raise their hand to be marketed to.

For a graphic designer, write a report on the various types of file formats needed for business cards, on-line identities etc., a promotional products company could put together a list of the items that have gotten the best response, a moving company can provide tips on packing up the house and the best ways to pack certain types of clothes and valuables.  Other examples include a mortgage broker providing tips of business owners looking to refinance, and a CPA can provide a report on the benefits of the various types of business filings and the tax benefits.  These are some basic examples, but think about the questions that your clients ask you and expand upon it to help them understand how to be a better buyer in your industry.

The basic 5 Steps in 2 Step Direct Response Advertising is as follows:

1.  Create your free information product, webinar, ebook or whatever the case might be.

2.  Promote the free information product only in your advertising.

3.  Figure out how you’ll capture the names and addresses and email addresses for those who request the report.

4.  Follow-up with those leads.

5.  Continue to market to and educate those leads.

The critical element now is that you need to track how successful this method was.  Know how many of these offers went out and know how many inquiries back you received.  This information is useful as you decide to test two different messages the next time.

Advertising does work if you work within some basic guidelines.  Stay tuned for further posts on how to make advertising work for your small business.

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