There are two opposing schools of thought with regards to small business advertising. 1. Advertising never works. 2. Advertising is the ultimate in marketing. Neither of these attitudes really represents what's going on with advertising.
The two biggest problems with most small business advertising are:
- The message stinks. Advertising's main job is to inform and then persuade. If you aren't Nike, don't waste your money on a billboard with your logo. Most small business advertising I see is poorly written. Billboard, TV, radio, print, web - the words are the most important part of your ad.
- The targeting stinks. Unless you are in a business that the general public actually uses, like a grocery store, advertising to everybody is a waste of your money. Many business owners have a false view of who is interested in what they're selling. "Everybody needs this." Maybe so, but not everybody is going to buy it.
If you can get these two things right, and the cost makes sense, then advertising may be a good marketing vehicle for you. Ignore either of these factors and you might as well set piles of your money on fire.
As an aside, if you feel the burning desire to go with some high-concept cool branding advertisement - give yourself a pinch and think again. You need to decide if you are in business to be cool and quirky, or if you are in business to succeed. Cool might win you an advertising award, but it doesn't pay the rent.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet