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Categorized | Business

ASK  SCORE: Tell them about it: Advertising will boost retail sales

For retailers, the decision whether to advertise is easy, for the answer is always yes. Advertising is a great way to attract new customers, who will spread the word about your business to others. It also reminds previous customers that your business is still there to serve them.

However, which medium to use is only part of the decision-making process. Designing and implementing an advertising strategy requires thoughtful planning. Like a reporter, you need to ask some basic questions: Who is your target market and what media is best to reach them-newspaper, magazines, radio, TV (including cable) or Internet? Also, what message(s) should be emphasized—price, selection, convenience, expert assistance or specialty items? When and where should the ads run? And most important, how will you measure their effectiveness?

The question now becomes how to budget and implement an effective advertising program. These expenses should be planned with a specific return on investment (ROI) in mind. For every advertising dollar, the business must recoup a percentage as part of every sale. Keep in mind that discounts advertised in your promotions affect your ROI because they mean less revenue.

Remember that your ads should generate a positive response among potential consumers. That’s why the creative aspect of a clever and intriguing ad is so important. A well-crafted ad campaign will continuously draw customers, while a poorly conceived or executed strategy may make your business memorable for the wrong reasons.

Whenever  possible, hire an ad agency or design firm to help develop the creative concept, layout and production of an advertising campaign. This need not be expensive; you can select from advertising agencies, graphic design firms and freelance marketing pros for as much or as little help as needed. If you can’t afford this investment, you may be able to get production support from the media outlet. For example, many newspapers and local shopper publications will include free in-house design for the cost of the ad. Just make sure you have carefully planned your messages and goals for the ads as well as their timing.

To review your advertising plans, contact an expert counselor from SCORE “Counselors  to America’s Small Business.” At SCORE, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information and insights from working and retired business owners, executives and managers. And it’s free.

All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are 389 SCORE chapters around the country assisting entrepreneurs. While counseling is always free-of-charge, local SCORE chapters also offer small business workshops and seminars for modest fees.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call 1-616-771-0305, or email your questions to the Grand Rapids Chapter at scoregr.org.

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