Successful Advertising for Small Businesses

Repetition works.
Repetition works.

By Marty Krouse

While advertising is no science-and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to sell you advertising-it can work very well to increase your sales if you put some thought into the strategy behind it.

A few simple advertising strategies have established their effectiveness over time, and at least one is worth mentioning here. That's repetition, which, in advertising, means two things.

First, it means consistently using certain words, images and messages in your ad copy from one ad to the next. If you've spent time marketing your business, you've probably noticed some key words or phrases speak to your target audience better than others. When you use them consistently in your advertising, your potential customers begin to identify you with the ideas those words and phrases communicate. They also start to remember who you are.

The other thing repetition in advertising means is getting your ad in front of your target audience-the very best prospects you can think of-as often as possible. The more times potential customers see or hear your message, the more likely they are to remember it.
Think of a television commercial you've seen lately. For better or worse, the ad you remember is probably one that gets a lot of airtime. (Whether you remember who the advertiser was is a question of good copy, which I don't go into here.)

Achieving repetition in your advertising, however, is not as simple as running an ad over and over in large circulation media. Unlike the advertiser in the TV commercial, you probably don't have a million dollars to spend or millions of consumers to reach all over the country.

Your goal is to get your target audience to see your ad repeatedly. That means finding a medium that serves your audience and sticking with it.

Lately, direct mail, especially e-mail, has become a popular means of advertising, mainly because of its low cost and ability to target specific demographics.

But printed publications, such as the one you're reading now, offer more credibility and a longer shelf-life than an advertising-only media, and still targets a specific demographic niche.

Before choosing where to feature your ad, it helps to identify your target audience, its tastes and ideals, and advertise in a medium that speaks to those preferences and which has created a connection with the people you want to reach. The result? Over time, you'll be recognized as a supporter of your target audience's community.

Moreover, when potential customers view your ad repeatedly in a publication or other medium, they'll begin to expect it. This is helpful because your customers probably won't decide to buy the first time they see your ad.

Instead, they'll decide on their own time. Then they'll try to remember where and how to make the purchase-information that should be contained predictably in your ad-and look in the latest issue of a publication where they last saw your advertising.

It's a simple strategy, and you may wonder why more businesses don't use it. For one, it takes patience and long-term vision, which can be difficult to muster in the presence of a tight bottom line and pressure to show immediate results.

In response to these demands, businesses often jump from one medium to another, changing their message as they go, hoping to find a silver bullet, yet wasting countless ad dollars along the way.

In the end, they might have had the results they were looking for with less money and hassle by sticking with a simple strategy of repetition.

Marty Krouse is a copywriter and art director at Eben Design (ebendesign.com) in Seattle. He can be reached at 206-523-9010 or marty@ebendesign.com.