Ways to advertise your business

Advertising is an effective way to communicate with your audience about your products and services. It is a paid form of promotion, so it needs to deliver meaningful, clear results.

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Role of advertising

Advertising is part of the promotional mix and is often the most visible aspect of marketing. It's an important part of the 'P for promotion' component in the 7 Ps of marketing toolkit.

Advertising enables you to:

  • reach your audience through targeted media channels
  • communicate with potential customers on a large scale.

Benefits of advertising

Advertising can help you achieve your marketing objectives. It's a powerful and effective way for your business to:

  • get noticed
  • be understood
  • stimulate action
  • achieve an outcome.

Advertising is about 'spreading the word.' It's about telling and selling the story so people know, trust and remember your brand.

Through words, sounds and images, advertising can connect on an emotional level, beyond purely functional and rational benefits.

  • It's what you say.
  • It's how you say it.
  • It's how you make people feel.

Find inspiration

Think about your favourite brand advertising. How does it make you feel? How are those feelings created?

Do an online search to find examples of successful advertising campaigns that helped to speed up business growth and make brands famous.

Plan your advertising

While developing your marketing programs, you may have identified an opportunity or need to run an advertising campaign.

Before you start, you need to know if you'll:

To plan your advertising campaign, follow these steps.

Knowing what you want to achieve will make your advertising campaign more successful.

You may want to, for example:

  • make customers aware of a new service or a new business
  • increase sales of a particular product.

Your advertising campaign should support your marketing objectives, as set out in your marketing strategy. Outline the KPIs (measurable results) for each campaign. Examples of KPIs are:

  • number of website visitors
  • number of phone calls and email enquiries
  • number of potential leads
  • sales numbers
  • cost per acquisition.

Make sure you can track, and report on, the KPIs you choose.

Read more about tracking your digital performance.

Your marketing budget should consider your business goals and how much money you have available. Your marketing plan determines how much you should spend on advertising.

As always, the right balance is essential. Remember:

  • spending too much on advertising can be risky and inefficient
  • spending too little on advertising can make your brand invisible.

View advertising as an investment. The return is not always immediate, but there are significant long-term advantages.

Keeping up with the competition

  • When deciding on a budget for advertising, also think about how much your competitors seem to be spending on advertising.
  • Also consider benchmarking your business against similar businesses in your industry.

You need to know who you'll be targeting with your advertising campaign. Base this on your target segments.

Find out as much as you can about how your target audience uses media. This can include:

  • what they typically read, watch and listen to
  • where they go and how they get there
  • what they search for and visit online.

You might, for example, find that your potential customers:

  • read a particular magazine
  • catch a certain bus to and from work
  • are a part of the same social media group.

This will help you decide:

  • what and how you communicate—your creative approach
  • where and when you advertise—your channel selection.

As part of your creative approach, you'll need to create your unique selling points (USP). Focus on how your business is different and the unique value you deliver.

A USP is a short, snappy statement to promote your business. Think about:

  • what you offer
  • what customers want.

The catchier the better – you want your customers to remember.

Make sure all your advertising channels play their role to reinforce the messages.

USP examples

Imagine you run a boutique florist and deliver 'the fastest local delivery at affordable prices.' You can convey this in your advertising slogans, for example:

  • Fresh flowers, delivered fast.
  • Faster flowers, better value.

Read more about defining your value proposition and USPs.

Find the best channels for your advertising by looking at your:

  • campaign KPIs
  • target audience
  • allocated budget.

Typically, the more people who read a newspaper, watch a television show, or drive past a billboard, the higher the cost to place your advertisement. However, this also means that more potential customers will be exposed to your products and services.

Make sure the audience numbers are correct and relevant to your campaign:

  • Ask for a media kit and a rate card to help you compare the channels you are considering.
  • Check that the audience numbers are independently verified.
  • Remember, the numbers relating to your target audience is most important.

Also read about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of advertising.

As part of the campaign planning process, you need to book your media schedule – the where and the when.

You want more people in your target audience to see and hear your advertisements more often. Try to find the best balance between the:

  • total number of people who saw your advertisement – known as reach
  • number of times the advertisement is presented – known as frequency.

Keep a work-in-progress document, so you:

  • can create effective advertisements across many channels
  • have enough time to meet advertising deadlines.

Make sure you keep track of due dates to supply advertising material.

In Step 1, you would have made sure that you could track, and report on, the KPIs you chose. Now you can review the information you have available to see how well your campaign worked.

The purpose of this review is to:

  • calculate your return on investment (ROI)
  • find out which advertising worked best
  • use the results to improve your future campaigns.

Find out how you can measure and analyse your advertising campaign.

Types of advertising

Understanding available advertising channels will help you make the right decisions for your business.

A successful advertising campaign will:

  • increase awareness of your business and products
  • attract customers
  • generate sales.

Whether you're encouraging new customers to buy one of your existing products or are launching a new product, your brand is more likely to stand out if you use the right creative (images, video, or other advertising formats) in the right environment.

You may find that you get the best results by using a combination of channels.

For each advertising type, consider the:

  • potential reach
  • cost (media, creative and production)
  • call to action (how you want people to respond).

Newspaper advertising is a form of print media that can help promote your business and reach a wide audience. It typically consists of:

  • display advertisements, which are placed throughout the paper
  • classified listings under specific subject headings.

Generally, the higher the circulation (readership), the higher the advertising cost.

To decide if and how newspaper advertising will work for your business, consider the:

  • geographic coverage (national, regional or local)
  • audience profile.

Magazine advertising enables you to connect with a highly targeted audience. For example, magazines may focus on:

  • consumers with a particular interest (e.g. women's health)
  • businesses in a particular industry (e.g. hospitality).

If your products need to be displayed in colour, a glossy magazine advertisement can be ideal.

People also tend to take more time to read magazines and keep them for longer. This means there's more chance of your advertisement being seen.

Keep in mind:

  • Magazine advertisements are generally more expensive than newspaper advertisements.
  • Magazines are usually not local media but distributed nationally. Consider if you'll be paying for exposure outside your target area.

Radio advertising can be an effective way to reach your target audience. It gives you the:

  • option to focus on a specific region or local area
  • opportunity to convey your brand personality through sound.

Keep your target audience in mind when choosing which station to run your advertisements on and what time of the day to run them.

Radio advertising can be a cost-effective medium. However, listeners may not easily recall your advertisement, so you many need to run them regularly.

Television advertising:

  • is an ideal way to reach a large market in a large geographic area
  • offers the unique advantage of combining visuals, sound, movement and colour
  • is a powerful tool to build an emotional connection with your brand and persuade customers to act.

TV advertising is typically sold in units of time (e.g. 15 seconds or 30 seconds) and the costs will vary depending on the station, program and time.

It can be expensive when you factor in all the production and broadcasting costs.

Because of the broad coverage and high costs, television advertising might not be a good option for many small businesses.

Outdoor advertising is a way to connect with potential customers when they're outside and on the go. There are typically 3 different out-of-home advertising environments:

  • roadside (e.g. billboards, bus shelters, kiosks)
  • transport (e.g. airports, trains, buses, bicycles)
  • lifestyle (e.g. shopping centres, gyms, stadium).

This visual advertising can be designed for high impact. Both traditional and digital options may be available.

Remember:

  • The message needs to be short and sharp with a strong call to action.
  • Prime locations are expensive.

Directories provide a cost-effective way to list your business. They can be printed or online. Online, location-based listing or directories allow you to:

  • list on specialised directories (e.g. by category or location)
  • keep your business and contact details up to date.

Check if there are free online directories for your local area.

Potential customers may use directories to compare options through online ratings and reviews.

Online advertising provides a highly targeted and highly effective way to attract new customers. It's particularly important as most customers do online research before making a purchase decision.

There are 3 main types of digital advertising at your disposal:

  • display advertising
  • paid search advertising
  • social media advertising.

Read more about digital marketing and advertising and social media for business.

The channels and formats (e.g. video or images) will be based on the online behaviours of your potential customers and what you are striving to achieve.

Also remember that you'll most likely be driving traffic to your website. A well-designed website can increase your sales.

Action items

Video: Developing your marketing activities

Watch our video to help turn your marketing strategy into an action plan of activities to promote your business and grow your sales.

Topics include:

  • an information checklist before you invest in marketing activities
  • how to progress from a strategy to an action plan
  • exploring activities like advertising, PR, and sales promotions
  • understanding the 'who, why, what and where' of marketing.

Top 10 tips for effective advertising

  1. Use your distinctive brand 'look and feel' and be consistent.
  2. Make sure your creative concept is persuasive and memorable.
  3. Try to appeal to the senses and connect on an emotional level.
  4. Include a strong call to action so customers know what to do.
  5. Be unemotional about channel choice – focus on the customer.
  6. Integrate channels so they work together and play their roles.
  7. Tailor your creative execution to suit the advertising medium.
  8. Double check that all information is up to date and accurate.
  9. Ensure your advertising quality reflects your business quality.
  10. Confirm that your advertising remains compliant with regulations.

Start advertising

There are 3 key components to deliver an effective advertising campaign.

Media

Plan, review, select and book the space for your chosen channels.

This may involve dealing directly with representatives from media businesses. Remember to focus on your objectives and use your negotiation skills. For example, you may get a discount for booking multiple spots at the same time.

Creative

Work out the overarching creative concept for your campaign.

Based on your brand positioning, unique selling point and customer needs, you will need to come up with the 'big idea' for your advertising campaign. This creative approach will include both visual design and copywriting.

Production

Develop and roll out the creative across all media channels.

You will then move onto campaign roll out based on your style guidelines. Take a big picture view of the role of different channels and how they work together. And make sure you supply files on time and in the right format.

Make sure you manage your internal communications before you go live.

Working with external agencies

Would your business benefit from getting professional help to plan and run your advertising campaign?

Be realistic about your internal capability and capacity. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of doing it yourself compared to engaging with specialists.

Measure and analyse

If you invest in advertising your business, you need to know the results.

As an example, let's say you run a boutique shoe store and through the planning process you set 3 KPIs for your advertising campaign:

  • increase visitors to the store by 10%
  • boost existing product sales by 5%
  • continue to improve brand image.

Monitor your business performance before starting the advertising campaign. This represents your baseline performance.

In the shoe store advertising campaign example, you should have some idea of:

  • how many people visit the store each day
  • existing product sales
  • perceptions of your brand that need to be addressed.

After running your advertising campaign, you can compare the desired KPIs with the actual results.

Campaign KPIs Actual results
Store visitors Up 10% Up 8%
Product sales Up 5% Up 9%
Brand image Low knowledge of existing range Positive feedback from customers

Based on your advertising budget and the incremental revenue, you will be able to work out if the campaign resulted in a positive return on investment (ROI).

There are many simple ways to find out which types of advertising worked best:

  • Ask your customers how they found out about your business.
  • Motivate customers to mention/bring in a promotional offer.
  • Use a separate phone number/email address to track responses.
  • Monitor enquiries immediately after your advertising appears.
  • Track changes in your digital performance.
  • Capture customer postcode details to help prioritise locations.

It's best practice to do a post-campaign review. In addition to looking at the measurable results, this can be as simple as asking:

  • What worked well?
  • What could be better?

With these answers, you'll be in a much stronger position to refine and improve your next advertising campaign.

In the example, a learning may be that most customers went to the website first, but there was not enough information available. However, once in store, the offer delivered strong sales. So, when planning a future advertising campaign, it will be important to update the website and create a landing page.

Remember that your advertising may take time to generate results.

Advertising regulations

Before you start, you need to understand the laws and regulations associated with advertising.

Your advertising must always provide customers with the 'whole picture'.

  • It must be factual.
  • All discounts must be genuine.
  • The overall impression must not be misleading.

Also check the requirements for running promotional competitions.

Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

The ACL was introduced on 1 January 2011 to protect consumers and ensure fair trading across Australia. The ACL is contained in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and is national, state and territory law.

The ACL covers key areas that relate to advertising, including:

  • misleading or deceptive conduct
  • false or misleading representations
  • unconscionable conduct
  • representations about country of origin.

Avoiding unfair business practices is a handy guide that explains the ACL in simple language with easy-to-understand examples. The guide also outlines the penalties that apply for businesses that break the law.

You can find out more information from the regulators of the ACL:

Industry self-regulation

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics is the self-regulatory system. This system is focused on socially responsible advertising in the context of prevailing community standards.

In addition to the AANA Code of Ethics, there are a number of product, audience and channel specific codes. Visit Advertising Council Australia to find out what is relevant for your industry and business type.

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