Foreword To:
"The Small Town Advertising Handbook:
How to Say More And Spend Less "

by George Arimond, Ph.D., Small business Consultant and Professor,
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse



Entrepreneurs of small town America who are searching for to answers to their advertising needs will really appreciate The Small Town Advertising Handbook. The Madison Avenue marketing experts, or want-to-be experts, write most of the popular advertising books.

Unfortunately for the small town business owner these national advertising gurus focus on corporate America, which is far removed from the advertising needs of small business.

Many traditional corporate theories and concepts of advertising that they discuss in their books are potentially useful for small business; however, they don't quite hit the mark.

Tom Egelhoff recognizes this and in this book shows how certain advertising theories can be made to work in small town America. He illustrates and interprets the unique aspects of advertising in small towns as well as demonstrating a clear understanding how small town consumers think.

Tom has that innate sense of how small town culture influences people's purchasing decisions and that small town consumers respond somewhat differently than urban and suburban America.

In the last ten to fifteen years there has been a revolution occurring in the advertising and marketing industry. There have been debates about whether advertising is art or science. It's considered science when an ad is based upon well-researched theories.

It is considered art, on the other hand, when a creative ad emotionally grabs the consumer's attention at the gut instinct level. Tom recognizes that you need to use a little of both-science and art.

He says to focus more on consumers' emotions, but at the same time don't forget to use the science side of advertising: 1) inform them about your product, and 2) provide a persuasive message highlighting the benefits of your product.

A second revolution has been 'Relationship Marketing.' Relationship Marketing says you must learn more about your customer and then personalize your product and advertising message so it meets the individualized needs of each customer.

In addition, Relationship Marketing should leave the customer, after their buying experiences, feeling as if they've been treated as a friend and not just another customer. This supposed new marketing approach is not new to small town America.

Consumers in rural America want to be treated in a neighborly manner and have the assurance sales people will be honest with them. Neighborly trust and other essential characteristics of rural Americans are things Tom truly understands and points to their importance in advertising.

He says you need to first learn who your potential customers are. Then delve into how they will think and feel about your product, focusing heavily on the emotional aspects. With this knowledge, he says only then can you create the kind of ad messages that will substantially increase sales.

Rationale for why a particular advertising strategy works is helpful and insightful. Tom shares his rationale as to how and why certain small town advertising strategies work so well.

His rationale is based upon years of extensive experience in retail sales and his intimate knowledge of small town consumers. With his keen sense of small town consumers, he shares examples and stories that make clear the rationale behind each of his suggested small town advertising strategies.

This is a major strength of this book because few advertising and marketing authors possess this kind of small town consumer insight.

An important focus of Tom's book is avoiding waste in advertising. Waste is caused by the use of misplaced or inappropriate ads, which leads to a poor return on your advertising dollar. Small town businesses have small advertising budgets, which means advertising errors or waste can be much more costly as compared to larger businesses.

Tom recognizes this important concern, but also recognizes money must be spent on advertising if your business is to grow and prosper. The key, he says, is to treat advertising as an investment and not just another expenditure on your income statement.

Whether you call it an investment or an expenditure, you're still faced with the question, "How do I get the best return on my advertising dollar?" Tom says the key is to test and monitor your ads.

Determine whether the ad is selling sufficient product to offset your ad costs and produce sustainable business profits. Many would say that's nice, but I can't afford the time nor the cost to measure the effectiveness of my ads. It is just too complicated.

Tom counters this opinion by demonstrating inexpensive, easily implemented testing methods that will measure your ads' performance. And, you don't need a marketing department or marketing consultant to carry out his testing methods. In terms of constructing ads, he shares with you inexpensive ways to create ad campaigns and shows you how to work with media sales people so that you get what you need at a price you can afford. In addition, he reviews how to effectively use tried and true advertising methods, such as direct mail, and gives good suggestions on the use of new advertising mediums, such as internet web pages.

To conclude, Tom Egelhoff's book is easy to read, providing a cookbook list of common sense advertising that will help you spend your advertising dollar more wisely.

Each year as a consultant, I advise numerous small business owners. You can be sure I will be recommending this book to them for their advertising needs. Those of you questioning whether your advertising investment is really working, I suggest you turn to Tom's book as well.

George Arimond, Ph.D.
Small business consultant and Professor,
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse


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