by Yuwanda Black
The only business that doesn't need to advertise is a one-man plumbing shop who simply doesn't want any more business. As most of us can't fix our own toilets and aren't plumbers, we need to advertise.
SMALL BIZ MARKETING FACT: A Customer Has to See Your Ad between 7 and 28 Times Before They Will Act
The real goal of any marketing/advertising campaign is to make potential customers aware of your business so that when they need the type of product/service you offer, they will think of your business first.
A Marketing Quandary
I had a fabulous (and self-made rich!) business mentor for 3 1/2 years. One of the first pieces of advice he gave me was that I needed to advertise more. I said, "But I can't afford to." His reply was, "If potential clients don't know about you, how can you ever expect to grow?"
After months of haggling, I finally took his advice. Even though I had to scrounge for money to advertise more, over time, it paid off. And, that's where most small biz owners fall off the wagon. We look at the money going out faster than it's coming in and get nervous or give up. However, to grow in the long run, we have to spend money in the short run.
A Few Tips About Marketing
When I ask potential advertisers why they don't think catalog advertising would benefit their business, the responses I get range from, "I can only show a limited number of products," to "My items are one-of-a-kind, so a catalog does me no good." These responses miss the true objective of marketing and advertising -- branding.
What is branding? You know when you see the "swoop" that it's Nike; the big yellow "M" that it's McDonald's, etc. This branding.
Why would you want to brand your business? Because branding leads to awareness, which leads to a relationship, which leads to trust, which leads to sales.
Most small business owners make the mistake of trying to make the sale when they haven't made themselves known to their customer base. In effect, they do not brand their business.
How Advertising Can Help You Brand Your Business & Increase Sales
A favorite marketing method of mine is postcards. Obviously, I can't put every item my online store, EthnicHomeDecor.com, carries on a postcard. So, why do I even bother? Because, by showing a few popular items on the postcard, I get a prospect interested and aware of the existence of my business. Then, via the postcard, I invite the reader to "visit us online to see our complete line of ethnic home decor."
Once the visitor is on the site, I invite them to sign up to our mailing list via a subscriber box. Many of them do. In this way, I can begin to keep in touch with them via an e-newsletter, which offers sales, discounts, articles, decorating tips, etc. Thus, a relationship is born.
Over time, the customers gets used to receiving my mailings. When they need any type of ethnic decor or ethnic gift, whose name do you think will immediately come to mind? Ethnic Vendors or Ethnic Home Decor, of course.
So, the initial cost to snag a customer who may later on place a $500 order was only 23 cents (the cost to mail a postcard). Further, once a customer purchases from you once, they are 70-80% more likely to continue purchasing from you. The reason can be attributed to the fact below.
NOTE: Most customers don't do much comparison shopping. Research suggests that many only check out an average of 1.2 brands before purchasing. So, if you're top of mind, you have an excellent chance of making the sale.
Customers Buy From Those They Know & Trust
As customers buy from those they know and trust, it is vital that you think long range about sales. Don't expect a customer to buy from you the first time they visit your site or see your ad.
Your goal is to get customers to become aware of your business so that you can start to build a relationship with them. Then, when they need the type of product/service you offer, your business will be the first one they think of. This is why it's important to consistently market using offline and online methods.
Catalogs can help you brand your business: According to a 2001 report by the Direct Marketing Association, while 13% of sales were attributed to the Web, 62% of sales were driven by the print catalog and 8% were generated by retail or outlet stores.
Catalog advertising is an excellent way to stay top of mind because: 1) customers love to receive them, particularly around the holidays; 2) they stay around for a long time -- leading to sales long after the season has passed; and 3) they pass them around to friends and family -- giving you more prospects (and visibility) from one little ad.
Now, what is your next marketing move?
Yuwanda Black is an Author/Instructor/Speaker,
and small business expert who advises others on how to achieve the
dream of working for themselves. She has written and published
numerous small business articles and press releases
in promotion of
her ventures. Her current venture, EthnicVendors.com is an
online shopping portal and catalog distributor for ethnic goods and
services. It is a subsidiary of EthnicHomeDecor.com.
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