LoboLinks | How to Design an Advertising Campaign for Your Small Business

How to Design an Advertising Campaign for Your Small Business

Date Added: June 18, 2008 07:15:09 AM
Category: BUSINESS: Small Business

You run a small business and you want to attract more clients. You don't have an advertising team at your disposal, so how do you create a campaign without breaking the bank?

Here's four do-it-yourself steps to designing an advertising campaign for your small business.

Craft your message
You might be tempted to jump right in and start with a budget. Not so fast! Before you decide how much money to spend, you need to craft your message. What you want to communicate to your potential customers?

Your message will determine every other aspect of your advertising campaign, so take some time to define it.

On a piece of paper, write down what you want potential customers to know about your business. What can you do for them? Why should they hire you above everyone else? Spend a few minutes brainstorming all the ways your small business benefits your customers.

After you've done this, pick the one thing that makes your business the best solution for potential customers. That's your message, and that's what you want to get across to your new customers.

Pick a media
What's the best place to advertise your business? Well, ask yourself: Who does your business cater to? Once you define who your customers are, it'll be much easier to find the best way to reach them.

The first step in doing this is to look at your existing customer base. If you sell a product, is there a website where many of your customers shop? If you provide a service, is there a local newspaper that many of your customers read? Consider sending a short questionnaire to your existing customers asking them about websites and publications they read on a regular basis. You might offer a coupon or discount to customers who are willing to help you out with this research.

Narrowing down specific websites and publications can save you money in the long run. You don't want to spend money advertising in a place where no one will be interested in your services. Target your audience and put your message in front of them. That's the most cost-effective way to bring in new customers.

One additional warning: Don't try to stretch your advertising dollar by placing inexpensive ads in random websites or newsletters. You're more likely to get responses from one modest, well-placed ad in a newsletter targeted to your customers than you'll get from bigger ads placed in random publications. 

Define a budget
Finally! Now it's time to think about that budget. This probably seems obvious, but take some time to think about what you can realistically afford to spend on your ad campaign. Do a little bit of research before you decide on a number. Here are a few things to consider:

Will you need to hire a graphic designer to come up with your artwork? You'll need to call and get price quotes from at least two or three designers to get an accurate price range for this service. There are several places online where you can commission artwork, but always get references and price quotes and be sure to look at several portfolios before deciding on a designer.

Contact the websites or publications you targeted earlier and find out how much it costs to advertise with them. There are different prices for different sized ads, so this research will give you an idea of what sized ad you can afford.

Take your research and decide if you can afford that graphic designer or if you can find someone to barter with. Maybe you can design your ad yourself. Also decide how many ads you can afford, and in which publications. Once you've decided what you can afford, stick to your budget and follow through with your plan. Don't be tempted to add on extras once you've started!

Know when to call in the experts
As you can tell from the previous three steps, creating an advertising campaign can require a lot of time and research. You might not be able to spare those hours of research.

If your budget allows, sometimes it's more cost-effective to hire this work out to a professional advertising agency. If you hire an agency, be sure to check references and get an estimate in writing before work begins. Make sure you and the agency are on the same page about your message and budget, then let them do the work.

If your budget doesn't allow for hiring a professional, ask around and try to find a young start-up company who would be willing to create your ad campaign in exchange for a testimonial or reference. You could also contact your local community college or a university advertising program to find out how to recruit a student intern.

While students won't be able to provide the expertise of a professional, they may provide just enough help to get your advertising campaign off the ground. It can be a win-win situation: It helps them get samples for their portfolio, and it helps you attract more customers. If you do hire an intern, don't forget to provide a business reference when appropriate.

Creating an advertising campaign for your small business doesn't have to be difficult. Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, following these steps and putting some thought into your advertising campaign should pay off with an increase in business.