Dec 142011

Knowing how to advertise your business properly can make a real difference to your sales

One of the keys to success when advertising your small business is the power of your offer. When someone turns the page of the paper or magazine, or sees your flyer you have about 5-10 seconds to make an impression. If you don’t grab their attention in that time then your advert may as well not exist. So, how do you grab their attention and make them stop and read it properly?

The key thing is it has to be a great offer. Compare these two offer headlines:

Call today for a free brochure.

Steak dinner for two and two glasses of wine – only $15.

Which one do you think is going to get the biggest response? The second one will probably be the most successful because it offers something concrete that the people can imagine – they know what the steak dinner will look like and they have a way of putting a value on it. A brochure? A little more difficult for them to see what benefit they will get from a piece of paper.

What sort of offers can you make?

Here are a few ideas to base your offer around.

High perceived value.

High perceived value to customer, low cost to you. This sort of offer bundles together added products or services that make buying the main object more attractive. The key – from your perspective – is to make sure the added product/service is low cost to you. A great perceived high value offering might be a free 1 hour service – costs you very little but will be valued by the customer (and may give you the chance to make another sale when they return to the store!).

Package offers.

Package two or more products together at a smaller overall cost of what they would be if bought separately. A great example might be to package spare ink cartridges with a new printer – the customer knows they will need them at some point and so will be more likely to agree to buying the package. Just make sure that you are still making sufficient margin to be in profit.

“Valued at” offers.

Whenever you include something free in your offer make sure you explain what the value would be otherwise. “Including a free oil change values at $75”. People will then be able to recognize the size of the benefit they’re getting from the offer.

Time, or number-limited offers.

Creating a sense of scarcity with your offer can dramatically increase the response because it heightens the sense of urgency – “if I don’t answer now I might miss out”. So put in a limit such as ‘the first 50 callers’, or ‘call before Tuesday lunchtime to receive this great offer’.

Free offers.

Many people are skeptical these days about ‘free’ offers but many people are still attracted by that single, powerful word. Free give-aways are a bit of a loss leader – the aim is to ensure that people keep coming back to you later so make sure you capture their details so you can get back in touch with them alter.

A word of caution – when you are just starting up, the cost to start a small business may make it sensible to avoid the ‘free’ word – you’ll need to save as much money as you can and free give-aways are not the way to achieve that.

Flattery gets you everywhere

A strong headline backed by a great offer will have people flocking to your door. Have a look at some ads in the media you plan on advertising in and see what shoots out and grabs you. If you respond to it then there’s a strong chance your potential customers will too so use them as a basis to start from.