Spread the Word
Branding • Advertising • Media • PR
Here’s a sobering fact: Your new business is not necessarily unique. In 2016, approximately 550,000 new businesses opened every month in the United States. That’s a lot of competition for customers and, without a consistent and deliberate effort to spread the word, your new enterprise could easily get lost in the herd. Small business promotion can take many forms, but before you shell out precious dollars for any one of them, determine how best to publicize your venture and earmark the necessary funds.
First impressions do count, and you have only one chance to make the right one by branding your business in a way that communicates to the public at large exactly who you are and what you have to offer.
Build your firm’s identity on the foundation of a solid, professionally rendered logo. Keep in mind that your logo will appear on everything — business cards, letterhead, website, signage, boxes, bags, receipts, advertising — so it must be clean and well-executed. This is no time to cut corners. Pass on your artistic cousin’s offer to create “your look” for free, and hire a skilled professional instead.
WHAT Some products and services just naturally “beg” to be advertised year-round because they have overwhelming customer appeal; others lend themselves to promotion only during specific seasons. Give extra emphasis to new products and expanded departments, and take advantage of co-op advertising programs that allow you to split advertising costs with the manufacturer.
WHEN The most effective advertising offers customers what they want, when they want it. Determine a launch date for each advertising campaign, then work backward from that date to coordinate the arrival of adequate stock and the preparation/placement of ads and in-house display materials.
WHERE Options for placing your ads fall into two broad categories: (1) traditional media, which includes print (newspapers and magazines), broadcast (television and radio) and other (direct mail, outdoor and giveaways); and (2) digital media, which covers any and all electronic promotion. Knowing where to best invest your advertising dollars is a tough but crucial decision. See “Media Selection” page for guidance in making wise choices.
HOW Use a combination of sales and promotional vehicles: paid advertising, public relations, social media, personal sales, telemarketing, etc. And keep in mind that frequency and continuity are more important than the size/length of the ad or the amount you pay for it.
HOW MUCH An easy way to create your advertising budget is to simply set aside a percentage of estimated annual sales — as low as 2% if your business is well-established with a loyal customer base or as high as 10% if you are just getting started and eager to spread the word. Keep in mind that this percentage may vary from month to month depending on cash flow, actual sales, promotional opportunities, special events and changing market conditions.