Guest Blogger: Mike Ludgate,
SCORE Central VA Counselor
Recently, a SCORE client asked me about advertising and how to get the best “Bang for the Buck”. I had to tell them there are many answers to a question like that. One thing is sure, if you are selling to anyone, you are like the fisherman. One thing we know, is that if you don’t put some bait on the hook and try to attract some fish you won’t have any supper tonight.
You may have to try several different baits and you may have to throw a lot of casts but if you don’t try at all, you KNOW you won’t have any success.
The first step in developing any advertising plan is to re-read your business plan. Focus on the part where you define your customer. Identify where your target customer is, what they do. That should give you the key to where you’re going to find your potential customer to lure in. The clues to all of the decisions that you need make about your advertising plan will be found in your Business Plan. As previously stated, you have to know your customer and you have to look at your financial projections to determine how much you should be spending. Make sure you have the cash to sustain a program.
If your sales forecast tells you that spring is a good season for your business, but you’re sitting in January wishing for some customer traffic, the answer may be to wait or consider a different form of marketing now. The solution could be that your market will buy now if you give them a good deal. So you may want to have a sale and do some promotion.
As you can see there are no easy answers to the original question of how to get the best “Bang for the Buck”. Your specific situation may have a different outcome. The point I want to make is that it is essential that you have a solid Business Plan to start with. It is a tool to help you manage your business operations.
Whatever marketing option you choose as right for you, keep in mind that a client has to hear your message seven times before it really sinks in. So don’t think you can get away with buying one ad to see if it works….because I can save you the money by telling you that it won’t! You have to have a consistent plan designed to get you maximum exposure at a realistic cost.
This is my area of expertise and I get great satisfaction as a volunteer SCORE counselor sharing my experience with small business owners just like you. If you are looking for any kind of business advice or mentoring, there are 24 other SCORE counselors with a variety of experience able to answer most any question you may have here at SCORE Central VA. Sign up for a free counseling session www.score-494.org and check out our low cost ($25) interactive workshops covering start-up, marketing, financials and more.