There may be as many advertising options available as there are potential customers, which is both the good news and the bad. With so many alternatives, it can be difficult to choose the advertising outlet that will work best for your retail business.
Although there are many varieties, the major categories of advertising opportunities are:
- Print: newspapers, magazines, newsletters, bulletins, Yellow Pages
- Broadcast: TV, radio, podcast
- Online: search engines, banner ads, Web sites
- Outdoor: billboards, sponsorships, signage
Print is the traditional retail favoriteDepending on where your target audience turns for information, advertising in local newspapers, shoppers and magazines may be your best bet. But don't overlook niche publications like corporate newsletters, church bulletins and neighborhood circulars, which may be even more effective.
Online advertising is up-and-coming and flexibleWhether you have $20 to spend or $20,000, advertising with Internet search engines can bring prospects right to your Web site, to learn more about your retail business.
Signage is geographically targetedAlthough it requires a one-time or occasional fee, rather than an ongoing expense, outdoor signage to alert customers to your business is a smart means of advertising. Billboards get you noticed along traffic routes leading to your business.
Broadcast targets demographic groupsLocal TV and radio stations can reach specific audiences and at specific parts of the day to promote your service to the right people at the right time.
- Start by setting your advertising budget, which should be in the neighborhood of 4 percent of sales, and then zero in on the best places to spend that money.
- Carefully track which advertising methods are profitable. Then spend more with the winners and cut back on tactics that aren't at least paying for themselves.
- Sign billboard contracts in monthly increments. If no other company takes the sign the following month, your ad is likely to remain in place for added exposure at no cost.
- Don't rush to change your advertising message if it is bringing in customers. A new message may actually confuse customers — stick with what is working, or tweak it to improve on what you have.