Few startup businesses do much advertising in the early going. Advertising a startup can seem expensive and many entrepreneurs aren't always confident advertising can work, or that they can measure it effectively. But if growth is initially sluggish and you need to perk up sales, advertising might be your answer.
Funny thing about advertising – we are all constant consumers of advertising, after all we're inundated with it every waking moment of the day. But grasping how the advertising medium really works and what it can and cannot do for a startup or small business is tougher than it seems.
Advertising is one tactic of your broader marketing strategy. Advertising can take numerous forms, including print (magazines, newspapers, directories), online (search engine advertising, banner advertising), radio or TV ads, billboards, flyers, direct mail and others.
Before you spend money on advertising a startup business, it ’s crucial to understand what advertising can and cannot do for your business and to draw up a blueprint for moving ahead.
Advertising experts agree that ads can achieve several goals for your startup
- Attract new customers, prospects and leads
- Encourage existing customers to spend more on your product or service
- Build credibility, establish and maintain your “brand” or unique business identity, and enhance your reputation
- Inform or remind customers and prospects of the benefits your business has to offer
- Promote your business to customers, investors or others and slowly build sales
Advertising your startup probably cannot
- Create an instant customer base
- Solve your cash flow or profit problems by producing an immediate sales windfall
- Cure poor or indifferent customer service
- Create benefits that don’t really exist or sell products and services that nobody wants
In short, advertising won’t guarantee quick sales for your product or service by itself, but it will get you noticed if you do it right. Marketing expert Andrew Griffiths, author of “101 Ways to Advertise Your Business”, says these are the five keys to launching a successful advertising effort for your startup.
5 keys to a successful startup advertising effort
- Planning your message: You must create and execute the precise message you are trying to put forward. “A lot of advertising sends a very confusing message to potential customers,” says Griffiths . Plan your advertising carefully and keep the ads simple. Give customers a compelling reason to call, visit your website or stop by your business.
- Knowing your audience: Before you can decide how and where to advertise, you must be clear on exactly the type of person you want to reach. Advertising folks call this your “demographic.” Gender, age, marital status, profession, income, net worth, location, home ownership status, interests, habits, previous purchases and other items are all considerations. “The clearer you are about your targeted customers, the more effectively you can plan your advertising,” says Griffiths .
- Making your advertisement distinctive: If your advertisement fails to stand out from the crowd, you’re sunk. Be prepared to abandon the boring and staid and create something that catches customer attention.
- Ensuring your advertisement is seen often: Frequency is one of the hallmarks of advertising success. Getting people to see your ads as often as possible will deliver better results. Advertising in more than one medium can help.
- Giving your advertisements time to work: As Griffiths notes, it’s rare for a potential customer to see your advertisement once and rush to contact you. “It takes seeing an ad several different times (and preferably in different places) before consumers are convinced they want your product or service.”
Our Bottom Line:
Advertising a startup business isn’t a sure thing to create sales for your product or service by itself, but it will get you noticed, if you do it right.
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