Author: Sarah and Paul Edwards

Small office and home business owners often assume you have to advertise to get business. This is not true. For some, advertising is a good route to getting customers. But for others, advertising is a waste of time and money. Here are eight guidelines by Paul and Sarah Edwards for deciding if and when advertising will work for you.

1. When you can reach a large group of potential customers through a particular medium.
In order for advertising to work effectively, you have to find a medium where your customers will actually see, read, or hear your ads. If your customers don’t turn to the yellow pages, for example, when looking for a service or product like yours, then a yellow page ad won’t reach them. On the other hand, if you are selling a product for horse breeders, advertising in a trade magazine or newsletter specifically for horse breeders could be an ideal route.

2. When you have the budget to advertise effectively.
Advertising requires repetition. Advertising follows the Rule of Seven. A message must be noticed on the average of seven times before someone takes action on it. Generally, it takes three tries for a message to be noticed. That means customers must be to be exposed to your ad an average 21 times before they are likely to respond. So your budget should allow you to run an ad repeatedly over an extended period of time.

3. When you don’t need business fast.
Advertising may produce some rapid sales. But because advertising usually requires many exposures over time, don’t rely on ads to get immediate business. When you need business fast, your time and money will be better spent directly contacting prospective customers of referral sources in person or by phone.

4. When you need to create awareness of your business.
When people don’t know that your business exists, advertising is a great way to get your name in front of those who need you. While they may or may not respond to your ad, if the ad is done well, potential customers will become familiar with your company as they see or hear it again and again. Such familiarity can make all your other marketing efforts easier.

5. When most of your competition is advertising.
When your competitors are advertising in a certain medium, you should have a presence there too. It says you are one of the principal players. So, if you have the budget, make a point to put in an advertising appearance along side everyone else.

6. When none of your competition is advertising.
If no one else is advertising in a vehicle that directly reaches your customers, ads there will give you a unique advantage. Soon you will see their ads alongside yours.

7. When you want more business from your existing customers.
Research shows that advertising does a better job of stimulating more business from existing customers than it does of getting new ones. Since your satisfied customers already know you, each ad is a reminder of their previous positive experience. Each time they see your ad, it increases the possibility that they will come back again.

8. When you have a consumer product and need to reach the largest number of people possible.
Advertising is the most efficient method for reaching the largest number of people. It works best when:

people know they need what you have to offer
they have an immediate need for it
what you offer is clear-cut, easy to understand, and has quality easy to measure

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