5 Step Venture eMentoring Program™
Module 2f: Advertising and Marketing Strategy
How much and why?
The old mouse trap myth claims that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. The reality is that the world will beat a path to your door only if it knows that you have made a better mousetrap, and then, only if it recognizes that it needs a better mousetrap, thinks that your mousetrap will satisfy that need, and is willing to pay you some price for the mousetrap.
So, how do you let everyone know about your mousetrap? An effective marketing communications program uses advertising and promotion to connect with its potential customers. The difference between advertising and promotion is important. You pay for advertising. You do not pay for promotion. Promotion is the result of making your business interesting or important to your potential market and engaging the community in helping to build visibility.
The difficulty with advertising is not only having to pay for it, but determining if in fact it is a good investment. Because of that and because most part-time self-employment ventures are working with a very limited budget, the place to start is with promotion. There are many ways to engage the attention and interest of your market and community. A toymaker may donate toys that might be of lesser quality to a church or social organization, and as a result have an article in the local newspaper. You may launch a business contest, engage kids in your local school, or offer a prize or reward customers for referrals. Think about your product or service, and think about ways that you might be able to engage this type of promotional exposure.
The most time honored way to advertise your business starts with a sign in front of your establishment. The cost here is the cost of getting the sign made. Today, many businesses consider the Internet as a viable way to reach their market. The cost with this approach is developing an effective website. However, having a website is no guarantee that it will attract any customers to your business. Direct mail is another traditional venue. A new business might send a postcard to potential customers letting them know that the business is starting. An established business might use a similar method to let their potential customers know about a sale or some other special offering. Advertising in the local newspaper is another approach that can reach the local market and in a cost effective manner.
An important outreach venue that many small businesses do not consider is involvement in a community or social organization that allows them to promote their business activity as part of their membership. Typically joining such organizations can represent a membership cost but the results may well justify the expenditure.
The answer, as with all of the business issues we have been discussing, is to have a rational plan. Look at the competition and see what they are doing. List and evaluate all of the alternatives that you can imagine. Discuss ideas with your spouse, counselor or mentor. Don't forget to ask your customers as well. They will often give you very good ideas. As you assemble these ideas write them down in an understandable format. The following worksheet will help you to organize your ideas.
Think about your advertising and marketing alternatives. Start with ideas to promote your business first since these won't cost you anything. Think of the reasons why you think they will work. Then list your advertising alternatives, paying careful attention to the cost of each, who you think you will reach in why, and why you believe you will get results from spending your money in this fashion. Once you have completed assembling your ideas share them with your counselor or mentor for further discussion.