4 keys for making any small business ad spending count

bullhornHardly a week goes by where a client or another small business owner doesn’t ask me about spending money on radio, newspaper or TV advertisements. This recurring question isn’t as much a function of the value of those advertising media as a response to th the number of feet on the street or dialers on the phone promoting those options.

For many small businesses, choosing to promote their goods and services through those media only makes sense if they have the right components already in place to maximize the value.

The following is a list of components that need to be in place before contemplating media advertising.

Customer service that’s worth singing about.

Staff must be ready for an influx of business. While additional business isn’t guaranteed with radio, TV or newspaper advertising, it is the goal. Companies should be ready with staff that’s eager, willing and able to deliver customers the answers and experience that will promote the business. Anything less and ads aren’t worth the investment.

A clear system for handling telephone inquiries.

Most ads include a telephone number, meaning people are likely to call for more information. Companies must know who is going to answer the phone when and what the process is for getting people whatever information they need quickly and effectively. For instance, how does someone get directions to the location. Is it written down somewhere so employees aren’t guessing or offering bad directions? It seems simple, but is often overlooked. Companies can benefit from having a recognized person for handling calls. The person should be well versed in the usual questions, as well as who specific requests should be directed toward. That person also should be ready to handle any new customers seeking information when visiting.

An effective website, with clear calls to action.

Small businesses often choose to advertise on radio, TV or in newspapers instead of investing in developing their website, which serves as a 27/7 marketing product. Most companies promote their website in any advertisement. Not having a clear, clean-looking website that generates additional interest in the products or services is silly. The investment a website must predate any serious media campaign.

The website should give a clear indication on its home page of what the business does and how to contact it (whether in person or by phone). The website should feature a strong call to action, that sentence that tells and encourages the user what the next logical step should be in the discussion toward buying. Join Our Mailing List and Call For a 15% Discount are two of many examples of a strong call to action. Lacking a strong call to action, the visitor may not just move on to the next website.

A strong presence on mobile devices. People seeing or hearing advertisements are rarely in front of their computer screens. More often, they are in their car, their backyard, on the run, wherever. The chances of someone engaging with a website right after hearing or seeing an advertisement are great. Small businesses whose websites cannot be viewed easily and effectively on iPads, Surfaces, Droids, Samsung Galaxys, iPhones and other mobile devices are severely limiting the likely success of any media spending.

Having a website that is mobile-responsive doesn’t require a separate website.  Rather, using a platform like WordPress to build your website usually provides you with a mobile-ready website that requires no additional management.

Even when it’s discounted, radio, TV and newspaper advertising can be expensive. In the right situation, these advertising avenues can be quite successful. But small business owners have to be ready. Without completing this list, the odds are small that any formal advertising spending will yield the results worthy of justifying the advertising spend, even at a deep discount.

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