As a small business owner, you don't have a choice.
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You have to advertise. But deciding where to advertise is a dilemma, especially if you lack the experience and expertise to know which advertising venues result in the highest ROI.
The best advertising choices vary from business to business. However, every business owner should consider the following factors when choosing where to advertise:
Choosing an advertising solution without seriously considering your target audience is the advertising industry equivalent of handing out cash to strangers. Your advertising choices have to match the demographics of the people you are trying to reach. For example, if you are trying to reach young people you should explore broadcast or Internet options rather than taking out an ad in the local paper.
Believe it or not, content still counts for a lot in advertising. The best bets for your advertising dollars should be capable of not only catching the eye with images and graphics, but also communicating a value proposition through ad content.
If money wasn't an issue you wouldn't have to choose where to advertise – you could do it all. But since cost is always an issue for small businesses, you're looking for advertising options that give you the biggest bang for the buck. When evaluating your choices, don't simply do a dollar-to-dollar comparison. Instead, ask sales reps to quantify the results you can expect and compare ROIs.
Where are your competitors advertising? Maybe you want to advertise there, too. Then again, maybe you want to spend your dollars reaching an untapped market through a completely different advertising option. There are lots of scenarios, but the bottom line is that it's foolish to ignore the marketplace when you make your advertising decisions.
Sometimes the right answer for a specific advertising venue isn't a flat-out "no", but a "not yet". For example, if your business plans to launch a new product line next year, you wouldn't want to splurge on a high cost advertising choice today. The smarter decision would be to wait until you're ready to launch the new line before you drop the bulk of your advertising dollars.
It's also important to consider your company's branding and imaging when you evaluate an advertising option. If the publication, station, or venue is known for things that are inconsistent with your company's image or values, advertising there could be counterproductive.