July 4, 2020

Ask the Experts

Operating Day to Day

| 4/22/2019

Advertising and Promotion

With an estimated half million new businesses opening every month across the U.S., the competition to attract consumers is fierce. To avoid getting lost in the herd, you must come out of the gate running — establish your brand quickly and promote it like crazy.


As a brand-new business owner, I don’t have a lot of money to put toward advertising. My products appeal to a lot of different age groups and I don’t want to miss any potential buyers, but with limited funds, how do I reach them all?

AThe short answer is … you can’t. There simply is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to your problem because you’re up against five distinct generations — each with unique characteristics, personal tastes and life experiences — as described below:

Members of the “silent generation” – born prior to 1945 – are patriotic, loyal and generally resistant to change; preferred sources of information: newspapers and magazines.

Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – make up 35% of America’s adult population and control 75% of its wealth. This generation experienced Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and Woodstock; they like nice things and are willing to pay for them.

Generation X (aka “latchkey generation”) – born between 1965 and 1977. Typically well-educated and self-sufficient, they value facts and candor; slick advertising gimmicks do not resonate with this group.

Generation Y (aka Millennials) – born between 1978 and 1996, a time of immense technological innovation. They are well-grounded, independent, entrepreneurial and seek to make the world a better place. One-third are minorities; responsive to ads reflecting diversity.

Generation Z – younger than 18 – and more tech-savvy than any previous generation. Like to think of themselves as individuals, but are greatly influenced by current trends and peer pressure; brand loyalty lasts only until the next best thing comes along.

Since you can’t be all things to all people, my advice is this: Evaluate your products against the characteristics of each generation. Pick one or two that most clearly match what you have to offer and direct your ad dollars there. Then monitor sales over several months and make adjustments as needed.

Answer provided by Gray Poehler
Business Consultant, SCORE, Naples Chapter


Start with a logo
a name for your business, start thinking about a logo to represent it … and don’t be tempted to cut corners in the process. Your logo will appear on everything — business cards, letterhead, website, signage, boxes, bags, receipts, advertising — so make sure it’s clean and well-executed. This is one place where quality should be considered before cost.

Consider all media options, but settle on only a few
The promotional vehicles available for your business fall into two very large categories:

Traditional Media: Newspapers; magazines; TV; radio; direct mail (flyers and coupons); outdoor advertising (billboards and signage); specialty advertising (t-shirts, pens, mugs, etc.)

Digital Media: Company website; email marketing; social media; online review sites

Before signing on any dotted line, do this: Set a realistic budget for advertising, research your options, talk to other business owners and seek advice from consultants at your local Florida SBDC office.

In the end, you may have only enough resources for one promotional tool and, if so, make it your company website. A website serves as the face of your business; it’s the place customers will likely go first to learn about the products/services you offer. And unless you are highly computer savvy, hire a professional to create a site that is both computer and mobile friendly. It will be money well spent.

Make deliberate media choices
Generally speaking, it is never wise to put all of your promotional eggs in one basket. Use a combination of vehicles instead: a dedicated company website plus paid advertising in the local newspaper or on TV plus a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Just beware of spreading yourself too thin.

With regard to social media, limit the time you personally spend responding to comments and queries; designate a staff member to be your “social media specialist” instead. And when considering the purchase of ad space in traditional media, keep in mind that frequency and continuity are more important than the size/length of an ad or the amount you pay for it.


Pre-Manage the "Chatter"

One of the most effective forms of advertising — word of mouth — doesn’t cost a dime, but it can seriously impact your bottom line. Research shows that unhappy customers vocally share their experiences with twice as many friends as customers who’ve had a positive consumer experience. And these days, they often air their grievances online for hundreds of strangers to see. There’s nothing you can do about comments already posted. But you can take steps to prevent future negative posts: 1) Always listen to your customers; 2) If you make a mistake, fix it — with a smile; and 3) Strive always to provide such a high level of service, customers won’t have any reason to complain.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Ask the Experts

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