Small Business Advertising
William A. Cohen (Author & Founder, Institute of Leader Arts) gives expert video advice on: How do I create a brand for my company?; What is "search engine advertising"? and more...
What is "branding" and "collateral"?
Branding is just where you establish your brand in the mind of a customer in a certain way. Everything that we do is positioned in a certain way in the mind of a customer. A Rolls Royce is positioned differently than, let's say, a Ford in the mind of a customer. So a brand may represent value, low cost but high value, prestige, etcetera and that's the branding. Collateral is concerned with supporting sales and supporting other aspects. It just means that you advertising and supporting. You want to have all these thing together. Supporting whatever your sales people are trying to sell. Brochures are a type of collateral advertising. A sales person talks about the product whatever it happens to be. It's about the product. And then the sales person might supply a brochure he or she can hand out or show to illustrate the product. Anything can be collateral.
What is "advertising"?
With small business advertising, advertising simply tells the world about what it is you're selling. There's an old thing I think someone wrote in the 19th century, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat the path to your door.” Not if you don't advertise cause they don't know about you. So, advertising is really critical and you pay. Advertising is distinguished from public relations because that's really in a sense non-paid advertising. If we're going to talk about it in advertising letters, I guess we can talk about free advertising in that sense being public relations. Advertising is simply getting the word about what you're doing, what you're offering.
What are some inexpensive ways I can advertise my business?
I think one really good way are publicity releases, because it does cost you something for the release, but the cost is very low and furthermore when someone else says good things about you, it's a third party, it's much more effective than when you're saying good things about yourself. So I think that if you really have something unique and can present it in a unique way, that's very important to do. Now I won't go into detail what a publicity release consists of. They're covered in a lot of books, including my own. But go to the library, get a book on publicity releases. You'll see how to write one of these. And when you're offering something unique - I mean it can't be something everyone else offers. I mean you open up a restaurant - big deal - what's the difference? By the way, they call it the hook. What's the hook? And so you have to have something different. But if you have this, this can be tremendous benefit, when someone else recommends you, and it's not direct advertising. So that's a really inexpensive way of going.
Should I have a website for my business?
I think you have to have a business website today because people look for them, if nothing else. Websites are so easy to make that people will wonder why your business doesn't have one. A business website is another way of advertising. People will not come to your website randomly unless you're just dumb lucky. You can do something with a search engine or so forth, and there are people that offer you optimization programs which get you ahead of the search engines, and they may work. There are some things you can do along those lines. However, there are things you can do to promote your website as well. The website is a great showcase and it's so inexpensive. In the old days, we had to print very expensive catalogues and brochures. Now we can put a lot of this stuff on the web and it's great and costs us almost nothing. You can get a reasonable business website for less than $20 a month. What a wonderful thing.
Should I use email marketing companies?
What I found is that some of these email marketing companies are very unethical in their business practices. They will tell you that they have so many thousand recipients, let's say they say "We'll give you one million doctors", and they punch it out for you. You send in a thing and they, for a thousand dollars or whatever, send it out to a million doctors. It turns out that it wasn't one million doctors; it was one million email addresses, period. So, you got to be careful. I think the thing I would advise if you want to do email is that you deal with a company that's been in the mailing list business for a long time in direct marketing, and you can find them through the Direct Marketing Association, and see if they're handling these types of lists well. They tend to be, in my opinion, more reliable than some of those that have sprung up over the last five or ten years, which just don't have any background and are not being very careful about their segmentation. However, in some cases these companies have people that have opted in and already expressed an interest in certain types of products; in that situation, it's not spam. So, that would make it valid. Another way of course is to send an email campaign to those on your own mailing list. Nowadays, a lot of times when you buy certain things, they say "Would you like to sign up for our newsletter", or whatever, and now they have you on their list and they can promote their products in their newsletter as well. That's another way of advertising using the internet; in other words, in your newsletter. You've got the mailing list, you've got a lot of good information for these people (editorial information), but you can also advertise for your product and your services at the same time.
What is "direct marketing"?
Direct marketing is where you actually ask for the sale. In other words, you can have advertising, for example, and it says, "We're having a major sale at Macy's from the 1st to the 3rd and you get different bargains." You can always thumb through newspapers and see all this. You can also have what's called institutional advertising. Drink Coca-Cola, with a man smiling while he's drinking Coca-Cola. That's really indirect advertising, because you don't buy a Coke directly from the ad. In direct marketing, or direct response marketing, you actually ask for a sale, or at least something that leads to a sale, right in the ad. 'Send for additional information', for example, or, 'Buy this product'.
What is "search engine advertising"?
Well with search engine advertising you optimize your site or in some case you pay additional money if you can see when you look at some of the sponsors like yahoo you'll see a little thing that says sponsored ads along the top or on the right side and these people pay additional money to have their item which has to do with what was searched and whatever it happens to be if their searching for cameras for example it will say buy lowest cameras in the country or whatever it happens to be and you pay additional for that and their very effective by the way. But again everything with advertising should be tested in other words you advertise you see what the results are and you test.
How much should I spend on advertising?
A great deal of your money will go for marketing and advertising. That's the nature of things. Now it's true that in advertising, I mean, it was a mind-boggler to me, but I think Hershey's chocolate, for years, they didn't advertise, and their sales were still great. Just to let you know that some advertising is really wasted is when, by law, the cigarette folks could no longer advertise on TV or the radio or certain magazines. You know, they claim that this would wipe the industry out, and for the first two or three years, sales went up when they quit advertising. So, advertising is not a guarantee. But, it's necessary, and I don't think you can say a certain percentage, but it's more than you think that has to be devoted to that. The thing that I want to get across to our viewers is you've got to have a good product – or, you know, even if it's like a break through, you invented a way of flying without an airplan, or whatever it happens to be – it's got to be a great product. But having spent all that time and all this energy and everything to develop this great product, or this great recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, or whatever it happens to be, the amount of money that you have to spend on advertising and marketing is significant. Never forget that. It's not all done when you finally finish that development project. You've got a lot more to do.