No matter how large or small your business is, advertising should start with a solid strategy. According to SBA’s Advertising: The Basics, advertising strategy focuses on achieving three major goals:
- Inform: Promote awareness of your business and its products or services
- Persuade: Stimulate sales directly, encouraging customers to choose your products or services over your competitors
- Remind: Establish or modify your business’ image
With these primary goals in mind, consider the following objectives when crafting an effective advertising strategy.
Know Who You’re Targeting
Understanding whom your target customer is – the person who ultimately purchases your product – is a critical step in defining which advertising media to use. Define their demographics like gender, age, ethnicity, job title, income, hobbies, and hangouts. Also consider influencers of your target customer – individuals who influence product purchases like friends, spouse, and children.
Next, detail the wants and needs of your customer. How do your products or services fulfill those wants and needs? And how many other products are trying to fulfill that same need? Uncover the regional competition for your product type. Are you a big fish in a small pond, or vice versa?
The more details you solidify up front, the more likely you are to fully understand how your product will fulfill consumer needs, and determine the most effective way to draw new customers to your brand through advertising.
Advertising Media Options
Your advertising budget will be a critical factor in considering and planning your complete advertising strategy. And now that you have a better understanding of who you are targeting, you can focus next on the advertising mediums available. Here are a few to consider:
- Out-of-Home or Outdoor Advertising – Any outdoor advertising that publicizes your business’ products and services. This includes billboards, bus benches, interiors and exteriors of buses, taxis, and signage posted on the exterior of brick-and-mortar locations.
- Print Advertising – Advertisements that appear in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, booklets, flyers or direct mail.
- Online or Digital Advertising – Using the Internet to deliver promotional messages to customers. This includes banner ads, social network ads, affiliate marketing, mobile advertising, and more.
- Audio – Using television commercials or AM & FM radio to convey your message.
Once you’re familiar with the advertising mediums, and which will reach your target customer, you’ll want to understand the advertising costs associated with each method. Also, what is the media schedule or how often will your advertisement be delivered? How many people will it reach? Take this information and compare it to your advertising budget. This will let you know where you’ll get the most value for your investment. Read more about how these advertising methods stack up through comparable reach statistics.
Crafting the Right Message Is Critical
After defining your target customer, and the advertising method or methods, you’ll want to focus on the message. Ask yourself these important questions before drafting your copy:
What are your product’s unique features?
What are your customers saying about your products or services? What do they love about them? What words do they use to describe your brand?
What message is likely to persuade your target customer to choose your product over the competition?
Do you have product or service weaknesses you could address in an effort to overcome?
Being authentic, honest, and speaking to the heart of your customers will increase the likelihood they will choose your product over the competition.
Next, think through the unique nuances of how each advertising medium is delivered, and how that impacts the length, word choice, graphics, etc. of your advertisement. Consider the difference in the message viewed on a billboard for 3-7 seconds compared to the 60-second radio spot heard on the drive to work.
Repeat Your Message to Drive Results
Without enough frequency, your customers won’t see or hear your message. Most marketing professionals will agree – it’s better to place a repeated advertising schedule on one station or in one publication than to spread out a small budget across many advertising mediums.
Some mediums will provide more immediate results, while others may take time to reach its maximum potential. Your best bet is to try, analyze, and adjust your advertising strategy as needed.Do you believe that you're ready to advertise your business? Before you begin, check out this helpful tool to help you assess your business from your customer's point of view.