I spend much of my time talking to small business owners and managers about advertising.
Since starting The Slidell Independent and Tammany West I bounced from a lifelong editorial guy to an advertising representative and I can tell you that I’ve spent countless hours studying the subject to find the best way to help small business owners.
I listened to an hour-long audio tape recently that further confirmed something that our newspapers began pushing several years ago. Advertising a business shouldn’t be about doing a one or two time ad somewhere. If you really want your business to do well you need to build your brand name to a place that it is highly recognizable to the public.
That doesn’t happen when you run a one-time ad in the paper, or do a week-long radio spot.
The key to building a successful business is to build the brand in the same way Walmart, McDonalds, Target or others have done. Do you notice that those big, national companies never, ever stop advertising? Why do they need to keep spending all that money—endlessly—when you can see thousands of people going into their stores or restaurants?
The reason is that as soon as you stop putting your business name in front of the public they begin to forget about you and think a lot more about the businesses that do continue to advertise.
I began to understand branding several years ago and put together a package of advertising to start 2017 that is positively a great, affordable way for small businesses to do that. The only problem is that they have to commit to spending money every month.
I have to admit that it surprised me when I started selling ads for the papers. The surprise came in seeing so many small business owners who clearly wanted some help, but barely were able to commit $25 a week to reach thousands of people.
I still run into that a lot today and what I have come to understand is that for most small business owners who open their store front and began operating their own business, many don’t realize the importance of an advertising campaign or committing certain dollars every month to do it.
I remember talking to the owner of a car dealership many years ago who was a new guy to the area. He was a friend of a longtime, very successful car dealer in New Orleans and he asked him how much he needed to spend on advertising every month.
The car dealer told him, “I spend $5,000 a month on advertising when I have my best month of sales. And I spend $5,000 a month on advertising when I have my worst month of sales.” He made it clear that you must commit to doing something consistently to get the public to know your name. And if you do it for a while and stop you basically will lose a lot of the name recognition you created during the time you advertised.
I know that’s a tough thing to hear since I have my share of clients who run for a while then stop. I try to convince them to maintain their advertising in some way—to keep the brand recognition where it has been and keep it growing.
I understand that everyone doesn’t have $5,000 a month for advertising and that’s why we have affordable packages that come with reduced newspaper ad rates. But on top of that, when you run weekly with our papers we also offer an online package that puts your business in front of thousands of people every month.
Thanks to the growing popularity of our website (over 200,000 views a month) and our Facebook site (over 3,000 followers), we get our regular clients in front of those people on a daily basis, as well as a regular hit on Facebook that goes to thousands more.
I hear so many business owners respond to my sales pitch by saying “I have a Facebook site.” And well you should—it’s free. Reaching that specific audience is great but it takes more than Facebook to build a brand name.
Additionally, the seminar I recently listened to said that a study by Future Foundation showed that online advertising is actually the least trusted medium for businesses. Only 3 percent of the public trusts it as being believable and newspapers ranked among the most trusted mediums with 60 percent of the public believing what they say. Clearly you need both.
Then those who think word of mouth, or referrals, is the best way to build their business forget that they lose control of their message when that happens. As the audio said, remember the game in school where the teacher whispered something to a student, then it was passed down 10 times. The message was hardly the same.
I really want to help every small business in this community to succeed because when they do well I usually do as well. But it takes a concerted effort of consistently advertising to do that. If you like the idea of a great online and newspaper package to reach thousands of people each week—something we can do for you—then call or e-mail me. I know we can help.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.