The terms “advertising” and “marketing” often get used interchangeably, especially when working with small business owners. Technically, advertising is a subset of marketing. (Your high school math teacher is smiling right now as you try to remember EXACTLY what a “subset” is.)
Marketing is the “overall” picture. Marketing is everything you do to get your products and services into the hands of consumers. From the sign outside your building to the state of your restrooms, those are all components of your “marketing”.
With this in mind, there isn’t a person on your staff who isn’t “technically” engaged in marketing. When your receptionist talks about her week with her bowling team or Sunday School class or drinking buddies – she’s engaged in “marketing” your company. When she talks about how great or evil your company is, your receptionist joins the “marketing machine” which is in place to promote your business.
If this makes you stop and think – it should. How many of your employees friends and relatives are consumers of your products or services? If they could be and they aren’t – then maybe you should find out what kind of messages your EMPLOYEES are sharing when they’re off duty.
Meanwhile, advertising is when you PAY to have those marketing messages delivered. Traditionally, those marketing messages are delivered via newspaper, radio, television, billboards, yellow pages, etc.
Small Business Advertising Basics
Since advertising – by nature – means you’re PAYING to deliver your small business marketing messages, you’ll probably want to make sure you get your money’s worth when you make a financial investment in advertising your business.
The absolute BEST way to make sure you get a GREAT ROI from your advertising is to begin by defining your BEST customer or your TARGET AUDIENCE.
If there’s one subject that makes small business owners squirm it’s picking a target audience. For some, it seems to be the emotional equivalent of asking Playboy Hugh Hefner to settle down and marry just ONE of his companions.
“There are SO MANY people out there who want/need/DESIRE my products and/or services- HOW OH HOW can you ask me to narrow my target audience down to just a select few.”
There are so many great reasons WHY as a small business owner you should focus upon a select few – a “niche market” so to speak.
First, there’s the issue of cost efficiency. In my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results, I point out that advertising is sold based upon the number of people a particular media reaches.
For example, if your local newspaper as a subscription base of 250,000 customers – then you’ll pay for your ad to be seen by 250,000 people – the 250,000 people who subscribe to the local newspaper.
Now, the thing about the newspaper is there’s a certain “type” of person who’s likely to be READING the newspaper. Your newspaper rep will have fascinating demographic information about the people who are reading YOUR local newspaper – but in general, those people are usually older folks. If you’re the owner of a nightclub which is popular with young adults – you’ll probably find that young adults are not heavy consumers of your local newspaper and you might want to think about using other media to reach your “target demographic”.
So let’s say your target audience or “niche market” are heavy consumers of printed media – your local newspaper for example. That’s just ONE reason why you should tightly target not only the media but also the marketing message.
Go ahead and pick up your local newspaper. You’ll see dozens of ads all competing for the reader’s attention. You need a way for your ad to STAND OUT from all that competition. You need a way for your marketing message to reach the people most likely to buy your products or services.
Here’s a hint: You do that by tightly targeting your marketing message to your target audience.
If you’ve already got customers – clients or patients – then you already have all the information you need to tightly target your marketing messages to a niche market! By creating marketing messages which SPEAK to your current customers – clients or patients, then you’ll find you’re also reaching out to other people just like the people who are already doing business with you.
The biggest mistake made by small business owners when they begin to advertise their business using traditional advertising is that they try to catch ALL the fish in the sea instead of targeting a few fish.
Define your target audience – then create a message which speaks DIRECTLY to them. Advertise – or pay to place this message in a place where your target audience “hangs out” and VIOLA! That is the formula for small business advertising success!!!