Advertising and a Word About Public Relations
While the Internet offers numerous benefits to small-business owners on a budget, some find that combining cyber-advertising/marketing with more traditional outlets, such as television, radio and print media, provide a greater return on investment. This is largely a matter of individual preference. Even so, marketing experts suggest some rules apply across the board, regardless of chosen venues.
- Match advertising campaigns to target markets. Publicity for Bob's Birdhouses, for example, would reach a more appropriate audience when placed in gardening magazines or on nature Web sites, as opposed to a display in a cat-lovers' publication.
- Be truthful. Resist the urge to "oversell" products and services with hyperbole. Let hard data and customer testimonials do the work.
- Be easy to reach. E-mail campaigns, print and electronic ads, brochures and all correspondence should include contact numbers, names, addresses, e-mail addresses and Web sites.
The following sections offer the pros and cons of each media genre:
Cons - High production costs (e.g. writers, actors, ad agencies, etc.); difficult to make changes once production wraps up; no guarantee that ads are reaching target markets
Cons - Usually less than a minute in duration, so listeners may have trouble retaining information; shortage of available spots during prime drive times; no guarantee that target audiences are listening.
- Print: Newspapers
Cons - Many former readers are turning to the Internet for news; inferior print quality; competitor ads may appear on the same page.
- Print: Magazines
Cons - Expensive to produce; limited repetition, particularly in monthly and quarterly publications.
A Word about Public Relations
Experts suggest that many small business owners have neither the time nor the skills to effectively market their goods or services. Furthermore, they add, a public relations campaign should be ongoing and consistent - a proposition that requires a huge time commitment. For these reasons, SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives) advises investing in a professional agency to do the job properly. SCORE offers these pointers on prospecting for a PR firm:
- Define expected services. These should include ample media exposure, special events staging and promotion of a positive community image.
- Don't expect the impossible. A PR firm cannot cover up shady business practices or illegal activities.
- Screen a range of candidates to find the best match.
- Hire local firms for local publicity. For national coverage, expand the search.
- Upon contracting a firm, treat the account executive as part of the strategic/sales team.
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