The myth most business owners believe: Most business owners think that advertising is as easy as picking up the phone, placing an ad buy and writing a check. Then, sit back and wait for the revenue to come flying in!
The truth successful business owners learn the hard way: Successful business owners long ago gave up believing in fantasies such as this one. They have learned that there is a substantial amount of work that the smart business owner must complete in their marketing area before they even consider placing an advertising buy. Skipping the hard work of planning before running advertising is a sure way to just flush advertising dollars down the drain!
The following is a list of the bare minimum of work, thinking and planning that must be completed before placing your first advertising purchase:
- What is the purpose of your marketing? Set sales and marketing goals and prioritize them. Make sure every advertising tool used is designed to reach your marketing goal.
- Research what your competition is doing. Should you be copying what works? Is there a niche that they are not serving? A small company doesn’t have the marketing budget to go after every potential customer. Finding an underserved niche and meeting the needs of this niche is the secret to small business success.
- Determine who your target customers are? You must really understand them. Picture a typical customer in your target group in your head and outline who they are, what their needs are and why they buy your product? Tip: your business may have more than one target customer for different products/services that your company offers.
- How can you position your company to take advantage of your strengths and your competition’s weaknesses?
- Make sure you understand the features, advantages and benefits (FAB) of every one of your products and services. Be sure that all your advertising is “Benefit” specific. The following should help you understand FAB:
- A feature is something the product has. For example, in our QuickBooks consulting we offer remote training through the internet. This is a feature.
- An advantage is something the product/service has over a competitor’s product. In our remote QuickBooks training example, the advantage is the client does not have to travel to our location or be charged travel time if we go to them.
- A benefit is how the product/service solves a problem or meets a need that the customer has. Again in our remote QuickBooks training example, the benefit is that the client gets the needed training when it is convenient to them, at their place of business where they have the source documents, customized specifically to their needs and for a price cheaper than what the competition is offering. Tip: all successful advertising stresses benefits.
- What identity and brand are you trying to create? Be sure your advertising always supports the brand you are trying to create.
- Determine what your marketing budget is.
- Determine what is the best advertising tool to use that reaches your target market and fits your budget.
Lesson learned: Advertising is too expensive not to have planned in advance how it will help you increase sales and reach your goals.