How To Schedule Your
Small Business Advertising

by Tom Egelhoff

Author Tom Egelhoff

Whether you are a new business or old business proper scheduling of your advertising is crucial to your business success.

Before we get into the actual scheduling of advertising lets review my two iron clad rules of advertising.

Rule One: When logic and emotion come into conflict, emotion always wins. Rule

Rule Two: Advertising must always be an investment. It must never be an expense.

For the benefit of those who are not regular readers of this site I want to explain those two rules in more detail in order for you to understand how important they are.

For the rest of you who have heard it over and over skip down the page to "Choosing The Right Medium".

Rule One:
Logic vs. Emotion

When we buy something we make an emotional decision and create a logical argument to support that decision.

As much as we would like to believe that we lay out each companies brochures side by side and weigh the pro's and con's we don't.

I'm sorry but the facts prove otherwise.

The very essence of advertising is not stressing features (what a product has: logic) it's stressing the benefits (what a product does for the customer: feelings and emotion) the product provides.

If we lived in a logical world the pet store aisle of your local grocery would be stocked with the very finest brands of mouse or sparrow flavored cat food.

That would be logical. Instead the shelves are overflowing with giblets and gravy, chicken and rice, sea food platter, etc.

The list goes on and on. Where is the logic in that?

For more on this see: "Why Customers Buy."

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Rule Two:
Small Business Advertising Must Always Be An Investment; Never An Expense

I know what you're going to say. "It sure feels like an expense when I write the check".

It would be much easier to write that check if advertising was like the stock market. You could tell by the price of the stock if you had made a wise investment.

If the stock was growing you would probably buy more. If the price of the stock was dropping you might rethink your decision and move your investments somewhere else.

Well you can track your advertising efforts just like the stock market example above. You simply must develop a method for doing it.

For methods on how to track your advertising see: "The 10 Most Common Advertising Mistakes Small Town Businesses Make."

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Choosing The Right Medium

In many small towns the methods of advertising may be limited. There may not be a radio station or newspaper available.

If that is the case then how are other businesses in your community getting their message out?

My home town of Bozeman, Montana has a local newspaper but a good percentage of the town also receive the Billings, Montana paper. Billings is the states largest city...88,000 strong.

Many smaller cities around Bozeman and Billings advertise in those papers. Most do not. Why? In some cases it's a matter of expense. In others...the target market isn't there.

That's the real key. Never place an ad anywhere unless you are sure that a sizable portion of your target market is going to see it.

For help in finding your target market see: "How To Find The Real Target Market In A Small Town." and "Target Marketing: Who They Are And How To Find Them."

Once you have found the medium that most of your target market is seeing try to dominate that medium. In other words be there as much or more than your competitor.

This may be difficult or impossible at first but as your business grows you will be able to "invest" more money in your advertising.

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Let's Make A Deal

If I purchase your product shouldn't I have a realistic expectation that the product will work? I think so. Shouldn't I expect the same from my advertising rep?

Shouldn't I expect that if I purchase advertising from them and give it a reasonable trial I should expect results? Is that unreasonable? Again, I don't think so.

Usually the lowest price for advertising is committing to a twelve month contract. Most people don't like doing this. Why?

Because if the advertising doesn't work you are committed to twelve months of it and then advertising becomes an expense. And that is exactly what we do not want.

Try this instead. Ask your rep to draw up a contract for twelve months of advertising with an option after the four months I recommended earlier.

If at the end of four months the advertising has proven not to be either producing paying customers or at least growing the business it can be terminated with no increase in rate.

Why should you pay full price for something that isn't working? If the sales rep felt that your product was not a good fit with their medium they should not take the contract.

They should also expect their medium to perform for you. They should want you as a long term advertiser.

If, at the end of the four month period, the advertising is successful you should expect to not only continue it but probably increase it.

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Don't Stop Advertising Your Small Business Too Soon

Let's go back to our stock market example for a moment. Would you buy a stock and sell it the moment is went down? Probably not.

The nature of the stock market is to go up and down over time. The trick is to pick stocks that rise over the long haul.

The same is true of advertising. You can't place a single ad in the newspaper or on radio and determine advertising doesn't work if that single ad is not successful.

Advertising takes time to produce results. People need to be exposed to your ad over a period of time for it to be successful.

If you are using radio I would suggest scheduling ads every week for at least four months. And at lease three out of every four weeks after that.

Sounds like an expense doesn't it? Many small town radio stations are very inexpensive. If you can't do what I suggest then do as much as you can.

As long as you are reaching your target market and have a product or service they want they will come.

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When Should You Run Your Ads?

In the early 1990's I worked for Circuit City. They were the largest electronics retailer in the United States. They did a billion dollars more per year than their nearest competitor with fewer stores.

Every Thursday through Sunday, Circuit City had a sale in every department. The bulk of their ads were scheduled during those days.

So the question for you is, what day or days of the week should you advertise? For the answer to this one you need to go back to your target market.

When do they shop? What are your big sales days? What are your slow days? Do you do more during the week than on weekends? Are you even open on weekends?

If you are having a weekend sale you might want to follow a common retail example. If you are trying to keep your company name out there you might want to spread your ads throughout the week.

Some during the day and some at night. For years grocery stores have run their food ads on Wednesday. This gives shoppers three days to clip coupons make a list and hit the store over the weekend.

Most sales last a week or more. Some run one day specials. Use your radio ad to direct customers to your newspaper ad and coupons.

Knowing your customers and your business will tell you when customers are most likely to see your ads. Ask customers how they found you. Give them a reason to contact your business.

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The Last Word On Small Business Advertising Scheduling

Besides adhering to my two rules the real secret to successful advertising is now and will always be... knowing who your customers are and how to reach them.

I realize that's somewhat simplistic but it can be done and it's easier in a small town than a large city.

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