Score Big With Low Cost Ads

SCOREThis article is provided by the Greater Scranton Area SCORE chapter.

If your advertising budget, assuming you even have one, is low to start with, blowing it all on a single high-profile ad placement isn’t likely to yield significant long-term results. It might make more sense to try a variety of low-cost outlets to find something that works.

Small business owners face a daunting task of breaking through today’s non-stop ad clutter to reach buyers. But don’t give up. There are ways to win the small business advertising game. “For the average business owner, creating and placing an ad is like learning a foreign language,” says marketing consultant Andrew Griffiths. “But advertising works and the more time and energy you put into your advertising, the greater your results will be.”

Time, energy and creative thinking are key. You can find low-cost options in almost every advertising category. While display ads in magazines and newspapers cost a bundle, advertising in the classified section costs less and is often overlooked. Readers flock to the classifieds in many trade and specialty magazines. Look for publications that specifically target your customers. Try a few test ads to gauge response.

Advertising online through search engines is inexpensive and has become the single most popular new advertising outlet for small business. You’ll find complete details and guidelines on creating and managing pay-per-click ad campaigns at search giants such as Google and Yahoo!

A lower-cost option in the direct mail arena is postcards. They are simple, timely and easy for customers to read quickly at a glance. And they are considerably less expensive than typical letter-and-envelope type mailings.

Choosing the right ad medium, however, is only part of the battle. You still need to create a plan for your ad program and craft a message that works. A few tips:

•    Choose words and images that appeal to your customers and prompt them to action.
•    Create a message that stands out from the crowd, but keep it simple.
•    Don’t advertise on impulse. Create a plan; select several ad methods that can support each other, and don’t give up before your ads have a chance to work.

For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”  SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.  Call (570) 851.1608 or visit to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.