No one is going to know your business exists unless YOU tell them about it, render the type of service and quality to get others talking about it or pay someone else to get the word out for you. And the quickest way to do that is to invest - yes, invest - in advertising. But where should you advertise and how much of it should you do? How much should you spend? How often should you advertise? What form should it take?
Lots of questions. Let's look at some of the answers. And please note: Every advertising plan is unique, so these answers are just possibilities - suggestions - and should not be construed as YOUR plan. You will need to investigate the possibilities for your product and your target market and come up with your own plan before you begin.
Where you advertise depends on your type of business and the area you want to cover. You might choose local magazines and newspapers, or publications that are distributed free at local supermarkets and other retail and private outlets. You might also consider radio spots or press releases to augment print ads.
However, if your business or idea could be of interest to people nationwide, you might consider purchasing ads in vehicles that reach a wider market; sending press releases to newspapers and other publications throughout the US; or developing an Internet website or blog to reach clients who are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.
How much advertising you do depends on your budget. We've already established that advertising is essential to identify you as a player in your market. You must decide how much you can afford to get your name out. Since advertising is an investment, you will need to put a pencil to your finances to determine how much you can spend. Once you've established an advertising budget, begin by contacting potential advertising outlets. Ask what they charge for various ad sizes. Ask about circulation numbers and deadlines for placement. Print ads will be priced by ad size, circulation numbers and, sometimes, the location of the ad within the publication. Keep in mind that ads may cost more if they run in color.
Radio ads are generally sold as packages - a certain number of ads of a certain length played in certain or various time slots - for a package amount. Because their advertising rates are audience driven, radio stations charge more for what is called "drive time" - the hours in the morning and afternoon when a lot of people are commuting to and from work.
Before you commit to a radio package, be sure to ask each station how many listeners they report for various times of day. Also, smaller stations charge less than larger ones because they generally have smaller audiences. Research the size of the stations and the audiences they tend to attract. For example, if your product is aimed at people between the ages of 15 and 24, you will want to choose stations with programming that attracts that age group.
You can also consider television advertising. However, television advertising is more expensive and requires you to produce a commercial. This production will add to your upfront cost. Like radio, television advertising is priced by ad length and the time of day the ads are played. In addition, it is vitally important that any ad you produce looks very professional. It is tempting to think you can reach a large audience through TV, but if you produce an unprofessional ad, the audience will know and the result will be negative rather than positive for you.
In all cases we've talked about, you will have to supply words that describe your product, business or offer. Of course you won't need art for radio, but you will need top-notch professional art and/or video for print or television advertising. You will incur an additional cost to produce that art - either through the publication/TV station or another source.
The bottom line is getting other people to say your name in as many ways as possible to make your "Brand" stick and bring more business to your door!