There are three key points to remember when advertising – reach, frequency and impact. Reach means getting through to the right audience, in the right circumstances and at the right time.
“Who wants to know about investment products when they are cleaning the kitchen floor and don't have the money to invest,” says Holden. This means selecting the right media and scheduling adverts for appropriate times.
Frequency is about giving the audience a reasonable chance for the message to sink in amid the hubbub of everyday life.
Impact speaks for itself, your message must have impact to cut a swathe through the myriad of distractions and it must be presented at the most appropriate time.
The measure of advertising cost is the amount of business that you can generate per pound spent on advertising. Cinema advertising can be ideal for a local restaurant bringing in late evening diners. A recruitment agency can benefit by advertising on panels in local transport and can reach thousands of people in the right categories every day. Many small businesses are finding that local radio can also be a cost effective medium.
However, Sonja Garsvo, former public relations chief at Apple Computers and now a personal business adviser at Business Link London City Partners, warns against the scattergun approach. “Shout as loud as everybody else and get attention but be focused about it, don't advertise for the sake of it, think about who you want to reach and the best way of reaching them,” she says.
The three major aims of above-the-line promotion are to inform, remind and persuade your customers about your products, services and the company itself.
This takes a number of forms and its methods are within the reach of every small business. Sales literature is a familiar tool ranging from a glossy company brochure to the single sheet product flier dropped through the letterbox, stuck behind the windscreen wipers of a car or direct mailed.
It should be designed with a specific target audience in mind and should convey what the products key features and benefits are.
Direct marketing can be the most effective means of communication and it embraces all forms of promotion where the buyer is required to respond directly to the advertiser rather than through a retailer or dealer. It includes selling off the page as well as direct mail and telephone sales.
Don't forget Yellow Pages and you may want to consider online information services such as Scoot or even setting up a website. However, think about how you will let customers know that you are on the internet, it is important and often overlooked. See our technology section for more tips.
One of the clear advantages below-the-line marketing has over media advertising is that responses can be measured. However, it is worth noting that a 2-3% return rate is considered the average, 5% is very good and 0% means something is seriously amiss.
Sales promotion and point of sales can be used to offer something extra and build in loyalty. For example, buy three curries and get one free during the following week.
This also has the added advantage of building loyalty and blocking out the competition. Offers such as these can be made at the point of sale or via mail drops and are often a useful means of giving a startup business a leg up.
Sponsorship can also be an effective tool. Obviously, you'll not be lining up to outbid Barclaycard for the next round of sponsorship for the Premier League. But is there a local nursery or community project that needs some equipment in your area?
You provide it and in return work out a deal where your company gets some promotion. If the cause is worthy it can generate positive word of mouth approval too as long as you are not seen to be shouting too loudly about the sponsorship and your generous donation.
This is often viewed cynically and considered opportunism.
Public relations takes a number of forms and in its purest form is viewed as the means by which a company can communicate honestly and accurately with its public. It includes media releases, product launches and premises openings.
PR is generally a cheap form of communication. But, if you want to do it effectively there are simple guidelines to follow.
If you are about to set up a business send a press release to the local paper, or hold a launch event and target the appropriate trade journals. To find out the relevant titles use the business section in your local library.
Check out media directories Pimms and PR Newswire, both list trade journals. Call the title and find out which journalist covers your area.
When writing a press release keep it simple. Journalists are bombarded with hundreds of press releases every week and have tight deadlines to meet.
If your press release babbles there is a very good chance it will end up in the bin before the third paragraph is reached.
Do not make any grandiose claims, these are usually seen through very quickly. Explain concisely and clearly who, what, where and when. Invite the reporter along to an opening – but make sure it does not clash with press days because no one will turn up.
Try and build a relationship – you may have other information that a reporter could turn into a story and in return you may get a free plug. See our PR section for more information.