Advertising 101 for the Small Business Owner
Copyright © 2004, Romeo Salvitti
"The spider looks for a merchant who doesn't advertise so he
can spin a web across his door and lead a life of undisturbed
peace." --- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Although Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, lived in a time
when there was no radio broadcasting or television, he was no
fool. His gift for the written word influenced generations of
Americans --- and his sharp wit and wisdom exposed the truth’s
of life, so much so that his words still ring true today.
THE BASICS OF BUSINESS SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS
Let’s face it, in order to survive in business, you must
advertise. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.
But the questions that haunt the thoughts of small business
owner’s everywhere is: How, When, Where and How Much?
UNDERSTANDING THE FEAR FACTOR
Small business people have great fears to contend with when
contemplating the questions of their own advertising.
Deep down inside they know that Mark Twain was right about the
importance of advertising in the survival of their business.
But, it is far too easy to dump thousands of dollars into
advertising and then to receive little or no response on that
advertising. Many businesses have crumbled in the attempt to
generate, through advertising, enough new customers and sales
to keep their businesses afloat.
When facing the quandary of spending their limited financial
resources on an enterprise that may or may not produce positive
results, small business owners naturally become justifiably
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
The How, When and Where of advertising will be learned from
trial and error. This cannot be helped. We can read the advice
of people who tell us about their own advertising successes,
but the truth is that what has worked for them, may not actually
work for us.
The trick of the How, When and Where is to try different
variables and test the results generated from each. If the
variable used generates more income than what has been spent,
then it is worthy of another run. If the variable used does not
generate the appropriate level of income, then it should be
With this having been said, please bear in mind that if an
advertising outlet fails you, it is not necessarily the outlet
that failed. In fact, radio, television, newspapers, magazines
and many other outlets have proven themselves effective over
time. If your message fails you, then the problem will likely
reside in the message you have chosen.
The question of How Much can only be approached with a strategy
of starting small and slowly building up the resources you
invest into the mediums and the messages. Only through measuring
your results will you begin to truly appreciate how to grow your
business into the next year, decade and century.
AN ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE IN ADVERTISING
In television and radio advertising, you are generally limited
to thirty seconds to share your message with your particular
In newspapers and magazines, you are limited by the amount of
money you have available to buy space.
Yet, for some businesses, it is absolutely necessary to share
more information with their prospective customers than what can
be achieved in thirty seconds or two column inches.
Remember, the point of advertising is to share enough
information with your prospective clients to help them decide
to purchase your products or services, or to entice them to
seek more information.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN ADVERTISING VEHICLES
In 1995, the global Internet broke wide open introducing the
world to new way of doing business and finding information,
products and services.
A simple website on the Information Super Highway can serve a
business well by educating the business’ target customers in
a way that no other medium can. The cost of building and
maintaining a website is miniscule compared to the cost of
continued advertising in other mediums.
To provide the same level of detail, that a website can offer,
would cost thousands of dollars per month in another medium.
No matter how well your web site is designed or presented, your
message will not reach its intended recipients unless you can
bring your target customers to your web site.
Your web site can only tell your message. Additional advertising
is required to bring people to your message.
TECHNOLOGY DELIVERS NEW WAYS TO ADVERTISE
Macromedia Flash has brought us new ways to utilize technology
to the benefit of telling the message of our business. Using
the flash technology, we can employ high quality images, moving
pictures, voice talk-overs, background music and text messages
all within the context of an interactive presentation where both
you and your target customers can determine how your information
should be presented.
This tool is ideal because you can tell the story of your
business in much the same way as you could tell it with a
30 minute infomercial.
This tool is also ideal for your customer’s because they can
retrieve only the information that is important to them.
PROOF OF CONCEPT
A few years back, Quixtar brought the promotion of their
business opportunity to “electronic business cards” or
“business card cd’s”, refered to herein as BCCD’s.
A BCCD is a miniturized compact disc --- the size of a business
card --- which contains a Macromedia Flash presentation that
automatically launches when it is placed into a computer cd-rom.
By using a BCCD, Quixtar was successfully able to tell their
story with a consistent and high-powered presentation. They were
no longer forced to rely solely upon the human element in their
structure to convey their message to new contacts.
BUSINESS CARDS --- POWERFUL, YET COST-EFFECTIVE
Business cards have been used for decades. They are a very
inexpensive method to put your business’ name into a prospective
clients’ hand --- and into their mind.
While a bit more expensive than a business card, a BCCD still
remains one of the most affordable advertising options
available. Offering more than just a name and a phone number,
BCCD’s are 50 times more likely to get noticed and reviewed.
Even during recessionary periods when regular advertising rates
fall in price, the BCCD is still one of the most cost-effective
and efficient ways to deliver your business’ message to
You owe it to yourself and your business to explore this
advertising medium further and to give it a try for yourself.
Romeo Salvitti is the owner of Have Consultants Will Travel, who
specializes in helping small to mid-sized local businesses to
use the Internet in growing their customer base in their local
marketplace. If you need help in developing a website or an email
list to promote your offline business, please contact us for more
specific information. URL:
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