5 Questions to Ask Before Spending Money on Advertising

Many small business owners remain dissatisfied with the return they are getting on their advertising spend. They continue to spend money on advertising month after month just because everyone else is doing it. When asked about what they are getting in return they remain as confused as everyone else.
We think the reasons small business owners are not happy with the return on their advertising spend is they don’t understand how to go about asking the right questions before putting their money down. They should pay attention to few fundamental principles of advertising before sending their next check to the advertising company.
Below we have distilled those principles in the form of questions that every small business owner must ask BEFORE placing an advertisement. By answering these questions and taking appropriate actions you can get the maximum return on your advertising spend.
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Internet Advertising – A Must for Small Business

In our previous post we argued that if you are not using Internet and Social Media for marketing you are wasting lot of advertising money. Not only that; but you are also missing an opportunity to reach large number of customers who are increasingly on the Internet. The central tenet in selecting an advertising platform is that you should advertise where your customers are and these days your customers are spending more and more time on the Internet as opposed to traditional platforms such as television and newspaper.
Advertising on the Internet can take many different forms. They are suitable different businesses and budgets. You should look at all the possibilities and select the ones that fit your style, budget, capability and customer preference.
Below we have identified several avenues for Internet advertising along with their characteristics and trade-offs they present.
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How to Select the Right Advertising Platform

Advertising is the rope that pulls customers in to your small business and keeps them coming. Many small businesses spend as much as 6-8% on advertising either through franchise marketing fund or on their own. In spite of spending so much money on advertising many business owners are dissatisfied with the return they are getting on their advertising spend.
One of the reasons small business owners fail to get appropriate return on their advertising spend is they do not choose the right platform to advertise their products. The choices are numerous when it comes to advertising. They range from traditional media such as newspaper and television to newer forms such as Internet and social media. Each of these platforms serves specific purpose. The key to getting good return on your advertising is to understand your goals and choose the platform that fits those goals.
Below we have highlighted the purpose served by these platforms and the type of advertising they are suitable for.
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How to Choose Best Coupon Strategy for Small Business

For most small businesses coupons is a fact of life. In this difficult economic environment, when consumers are strapped for money and are watching their purse strings carefully, it is more important than ever to use coupons to entice customers to come to your business. Not all small businesses are created equal when it comes to coupons. Some businesses such as pizza use them extensively; while others are not so heavy users.
While it is important and imperative to use the coupons to improve your sales or at least hold to the customers you already have; you also have to have a good plan in place to use them effectively. To a novice it may seem that coupons serve only one purpose – to attract customers to your business. However, judicious use of coupons can not only improve your sales; but also help your business achieve other important goals.
Below we have identified different situations in which coupons can help achieve the results you are looking for.
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Innovative Approaches to Generate Huge Sales

These days it is impossible to succeed in small business without spending significant amount of money on marketing and advertising. However, many small business owners feel that no matter how much money they spend on advertising they can’t seem to boost the sales they had hoped for.
We saw this happen to our business too when we used to own them. We would send out advertising inserts in the newspaper and direct mails only to see the sales go up by $300 – $400 in the following week. This doesn’t even cover the money spent on placing an advertisement.
After looking at this very carefully and talking to fellow small business owners we realized that the root of the problem was that we were just one amongst the hundreds of other small businesses who were vying for consumers’ attention.
To be successful in this advertising game you have to stand out from the crowd. You have to be unique, may be even idiosyncratic, to get attention of the consumer and bring them to your business. Below we have laid out several approaches that have been tried by several small business owners with great success. These approaches have generated huge jump in sales and brought in number of new customers.
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5 Fundamental Rules of Marketing for Small Business Owners

Many small business owners we have met have misconceptions about marketing. They think of marketing as doing flashy advertising with catchy pictures and some coupons in newspaper insert or with a direct mail company. This underestimates the power of marketing and the value good marketing can bring to your small business.
We ourselves have fallen into this trap when we owned businesses in the past. The reason many small business owners, including ourselves, do this is because of lack of time and lack of understanding of what marketing is all about. We have thought long and hard about this when we operated small business and afterward. Based on that we have come up with 5 fundamental rules of marketing that when used properly are sure to improve your sales. Here they are in no particular order:
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Do you know Why your Customers are Dumping you?

If history is any guide; you will lose about 20% of your current customers by the end of the month and 40% by the end of the year. I know it sounds terrible; but that’s fact of life. While 30-40% of sales for any business come from existing customers; the rest comes from customers using revolving door. They will come and go for a variety of reasons.
This customer churn can be costly for your business. You need to constantly recruit new customers to fill the gap left by those customers who have dumped you. This costs money reducing your profit. It is said that it is 4 times more expensive to get new customer compared to retaining the existing one. We will look at the ways to stop customers from dumping you in a later post; but let’s understand why they leave you in the first place. The reasons are quite varied and some are easier to correct than others.
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Does Your Business have Social Media Strategy?

If you don’t have a strategy to deal with Internet and social media you might be in a danger of losing lot of business. Just look at this article in Detroit Free Press past Saturday. To summarize the article – a student from Western Michigan University claims his car was illegally towed from his apartment complex by the tow truck company. He created a Facebook page to fight with the towing company and attracted 11,000 “fans” on the page; who joined him in the revolt saying they too had similar complaints against this company. The result was that that towing company lost half of its commercial accounts.
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