Memorable marketing solutions exclusively for small businesses in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire   Jan 2008




Getting the word out

For many businesses advertising is an essential part of their marketing strategy.  It can be a very effective way of getting the word out about what that business does, why it's good at it and where to find them.  It can also be waste of a lot of money if you get it wrong.

To use an oft quoted quote; "We know that at least half of our advertising spend is wasted ... we just don't know which half!". 

If you are thinking of using advertising then consider these key points ...

Know your target customers

The best start point for any advertising campaign is customer knowledge.  The more you can get, the better your advertising strategy can be.  Don't be afraid to segment a large group of target customers into multiple smaller groups if that allows you to increase the focus and relevance of the campaign to the target.

That might mean creating multiple adverts, one variation for each target group.  On the surface this would seem wasteful as the cost of the designs would increase.  However, if the more specific adverts generate a higher response rate from the targets, then the payback will more than compensate for the increased initial outlay.

Think carefully about which media will best carry your message to each target customer group.  Whilst an advertising agency can offer you professional advice on media selection, there is no substitute for customer knowledge. What newspapers and magazines do they typically read? Do they spend a lot of time surfing the internet? Do they listen to commercial radio? And so on.

It pays to think laterally as well.  One fact that continues to amaze me is that an excellent place to advertise all sorts of professional services is in Parish Magazines.  They are very cheap, are retained for some time (as they contain local event calendars) and are often read completely from cover to cover.

Know your message

Look closely at the core message that your advertising will carry.  Try to keep it simple and keep it focused.  If you do have a complicated message to convey, then be sure to choose media capable of delivering it correctly and allow for a longer time for the message to be understood by the targets.

Always remember that we are subject to thousands of advertising messages each day and have developed very sophisticated 'mental filters' to screen out what we think is not relevant ... or is too complex to understand instantly.  Sometimes witty or clever advertising fails because people can't be bothered to decipher the message.

Knowing your target customers will help you work out which simple message will have the best effect.  Again, advertising agencies can help you, but you need to help them first with a well thought out and concise message.

Stay the course

Unless you are advertising a time-critical event, such a shop opening or a sale starting in a few days, advertising should be seen as a long term strategy.  I meet far too many business owners who have placed a single advert in one magazine and wonder why the 'phone isn't ringing off the hook.

Think of advertising as a slow burn marketing tool.  The best advice I can give you, is that unless you are prepared to stay the course ... don't start.  Placing adverts in ones and twos is generally a waste of money.

That begs the question, of course, of "how long should I plan to advertise for then?".  There is no single right answer. Even looking at campaigns run by your closest competitors may not illicit the answer.  Very often the best approach is the most pragmatic one.  Assign a budget that you can afford and then work with professional media buyers to construct a programme that best meets your goals. 

Don't forget to regularly track where new customers approach you from so that you can begin to measure which bits of the advertising are working well ... and which bits aren't.  Fine tune when necessary, but don't give up too early or you will surely waste the money spent already.

Memorable marketing

Thinking and working pragmatically like this will help you to make your marketing work better for you in a more memorable way. This means that your target customers will be able to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors and clearly see the value in buying from you.

If you would like some advice on memorable marketing techniques for your own business, or you know someone at another business who might need help, then please contact us. The sooner you start, the sooner you will benefit.



Download this handy guide which explains how to get the best from advertising in order to improve business effectiveness.

Written by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of their Directors' Briefing series, this document makes easy reading for business people of all experience levels.


Marketing Effectiveness Assessment

A free service to small businesses in the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire area, the Marketing Effectiveness Assessment delivers a professional audit of how a business is using the tools of marketing to communicate to existing and potential customers. It also includes a series of simple and cost-effective marketing activities that the business can implement immediately and at low cost.

Download the factsheet now.


Useful Links ...

Adduce Marketing

Chartered Institute of Marketing

Marketing UK (information portal)

Marketing Profs (free articles)