Effective advertising on a small budget

Developing a cost effective approach

Don’t drain your bank account trying to copy multinational companies’ advertising campaigns. A small budget can deliver if you know how to use it right. Here’s how to get the best bang for your advertising buck.

You’ve got a new product you want everyone to know about. If you could afford it, you would bombard would-be clients with billboards, prime-time commercials and magazine spreads. Unfortunately, the budget won’t budge. How do you get to an effective advertising on a small budget without spending tons of money?

Step one is to develop a unique selling proposition, or a USP. The USP should outline why your product or service can help your clients – what feature sets it apart from the competition. The advertising process should not begin until you have determined the uniqueness of your product or service.

Step two is to find out where there is a need for your product or service. A little bit of informal research will demystify where you can advertise effectively as opposed to shooting in the dark. We advise entrepreneurs to conduct their own surveys and ask potential clients what they’re looking for. Once you’ve decided on your market, keep your advertising specifically targeted to that group. If you decide for example, human resource professionals are the group you’re after, consider buying a mailing list of the companies in that industry and target them via direct mail.

Once you’ve set your campaign in motion, survey your customers. If you find that the fish just aren’t biting, it’s time to look at a different target market or to change your USP.

Step three is to find a way to communicate your message effectively. This is where some entrepreneurs have trouble. Don’t copy the multinational companies. Many times, smaller companies try to emulate big-time glitzy campaigns by watering them down to more affordable versions. It doesn’t work. People are bombarded with advertising all day – they can tell the difference between a Nike ad and a low budget knock-off.

So how do you stand out from the competition? A strong USP will help, as will a targeted and creative campaign. Don’t follow the trends. For a while, the big thing used to be sending out CD-ROMs. A good idea, but after the fiftieth promotional CD-ROM lands on your clients’ desk, the impact is lost. Once you do find something that works, you shouldn’t feel the need to update it a month later. If it works, stick with it.

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