Samples Chapters From:
"The Small Town Advertising Handbook:
How To Say More And Spend Less"


by Tom Egelhoff

Section One:
Small Town Advertising 101
Chapter 1: Why Your Advertising Isn't Working

Small town advertising isn't as easy as most people think. Most small towns are generally limited to two principal media...radio and the local newspaper. TV, though sometimes available and used on occasion, is often cost prohibitive for many businesses.

The problem with small town advertising is often the same as big city advertising. It isn't the form of media, it's the message along with how and to whom it's delivered.

What do you want your advertising to accomplish?

You started your business because you studied and learned your craft or skill and wanted to offer it to others. I would never dream of coming into your place of business and telling you how to run it. I don't have the expertise you do. When it comes to marketing and advertising, many small business owners don't have the expertise to do it correctly or economically.

I will never understand why business owners take advice from unqualified strangers before they trust their own instincts or consult an informed reputable source. I have overheard business people ask complete strangers in movie lines if they should advertise on the screen between movies. Forget demographics, target market and product positioning. I guess if the stranger said yes, the business owner would make the deal with the manager after the movie.

Advertising generates traffic to your business. You need to generate a certain amount of income to keep your doors open. How many customers does it take to do that each day? How much must each spend? Who are they and how do you reach them?



Learn The Ways Of A Tiger

In my first book, ("How To Market, Advertise And Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town") I talk about a college professor who told a story about a big game hunter. He wanted to shoot a tiger. He asked the local "wise man" of the tribe how to do it. The wise man replied, "To catch a tiger, learn the ways of a tiger."

In case you missed the point of that story, let me rephrase it. "To find your customers, learn the ways of your customers." You must know who they are and how they find information before you can advertise effectively.



Make A Choice

So, you have two choices to make. One, hire an advertising and/or marketing company, if one is available and you can afford it. Or, if that is cost prohibitive, do it yourself. At this site we deal with a lot do-it-yourselfers from all over the world.



Where Do I Start?

When you started your business, hopefully, you constructed a business plan. If you don't have one...get one. Links to two good ones are on the links page of my web site, or try www.sba.gov on the Internet. Your business plan should have outlined why you think you have a viable business and who your customers are and how you intend to reach them.

If you are a new business you don't really have a customer base to analyze. One place you can look for help is trade magazines. Look for success stories of people in your industry and call them up. Ask them how they advertise and where? What promotions work? Who is their ideal customer?

Let's look at some advertising basics and how they work and don't work.



The "Fab Four" Of Advertising

Advertising was originally designed to accomplish four things:

1. To provide information about your company to your customers.
2. To create an image of the company for your customers.
3. To provide sales leads to the company or sales force.
4. And most important of all...to sell.

Advertising is usually sold at a "cost per thousand" readers/listeners that the advertising reaches. I prefer to buy advertising at a "cost per customer." If I spend $50.00 on an ad and it produces three customers who spend $10.00 each, what happened? I just lost $20.00. My advertising stops being an investment, and becomes an expense.

Track your ads to save money. Where are people coming from? How did they find you? What made them find you?

As I go through each of the four types of ads the question to keep in mind is, "What do I want my advertising to accomplish?"

Let's look at each one of the "Fab Four" and the mistakes most businesses make when they take on the job of in-house advertising manager.



Information Advertising

This is the most common type of advertising and the most often abused. Companies buy ad space and fill it with, "me", "me", "me." The customer isn't interested in you. The customer is interested in what benefits them. (More on this in: "Why Customers Buy" in Chapter 3) There is nothing wrong with showing off your company in a positive light. Just be sure you are talking with the customer's needs in mind.



Image Advertising

This is another passive form of advertising. There is nothing wrong with keeping your name in front of potential customers or creating an image. Most common mistake here is a big headline, too much text and no room left to display the logo, company name, phone or web site at a readable size. The message overpowers the purpose. If you are really out to build a name, run several small ads with just the logo or company name and the phone. Put as many as you can in sections you know your target market reads.



Lead Generation Ads

Many companies produce an image ad or an information ad and expect it to act as a lead generation ad. In most cases, they are very disappointed. What's usually missing? A "Call To Action." Something that motivates the customer to act. Make a call, return a coupon, enter a contest, get valuable information, visit the web site or physically come to the store. Make them act now! Fear of loss is more powerful than expectation of gain.



Ads That Sell

This is where copywriters really earn their keep with big companies. You and I are not big companies. Writing ads that sell is an art. Can you write one? Sure you can - and how to do that will be covered later in the book.
What's missing from most ads? The company never asks for the order. The biggest single reason people don't buy is because no one asks them. I know that sounds ridiculous but it's true. Make sure your ad asks the customer to take action and buy your product.

Even after 30 years of placing ads I still cross my fingers and look to the heavens for guidance. But one thing I have learned over the years is that when ads do fail it is usually because I made a mistake. Here's what I look for now:

1. An ad will never work if it doesn't grab the attention of the reader. The headline must do it's job by making the reader stop and consider the ad.

2. An ad will never work if the message doesn't hold the attention of the reader that the headline worked so hard to attract. There must be benefits to the reader or they will move on.

3. An ad will never work if it doesn't ask the reader to act. Successful ads must cause an emotional reaction. Make a call. Return a card. Bring in a coupon. There must be a call to action.



What This Chapter Means To You

In order to make your advertising pay for itself, you must know your objectives. What do you want your advertising to accomplish? Design ads that match your company objectives. Ads should produce customers.

Track your advertising. Ask every customer how they found you. Keep track of where customers live, how much they spend, what products they buy, how often they buy and most important...why they don't buy. Follow up and ask them.

For a complete table of contents for "The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less", click here.

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Section One:
Small Town Advertising 101
Chapter 2: How To Find Your Target Market

Have you ever been to a sold-out baseball game? Look at the whole stadium. There are three kinds of fans: 1.) Home team, 2.) Visiting Team, 3.) People who could care less which team wins. Within the home team fans are: 1.) Fanatics, 2.) Rabid, 3.) Fair weather fans and probably a couple of more.

The point is, that in that stadium we can, by observation, identify some of those fans. Can't we? They wear the team colors, they cheer when the team does something good. If we are selling a product related to the home team these people are our (target market) customers. They are most likely to buy our product.

Study The Available Groups: Not every group is your target customer. Study their ages, education, household income, occupation, TV shows they watch, children and so on. What do they want or expect from your business? Where and what do they buy now? Why do they buy that? Reduce each group to a basic customer type that would have a need for your product.

Create Groups That Match Up To You: Each group of your potential customers will be composed of people having common characteristics of some kind. Age, income, education, etc.

What's The Competition Up To?: Are your competitors successful in the marketplace? If so, Why? You must know what works in your market. Keep track of their ads. What ads and promotions do they run over and over? How do these promotions relate to your customers groups? You need to "steal" market share from your competitors.

Sort The Market: Your primary market should be people you can reach easiest and cheapest with the greatest expectation of ROI (Return on Investment). Don't waste your time and energy on those who "might" buy from you if conditions are exactly right. Identify your best market and go after it. Secondary markets can be courted later as your budget permits.

Look At Your Top Markets: Take the top markets and do an in-depth analysis of each. What are the common characteristics we talked about above? Who do they think is the top business in your field? The more you know about each, the easier it will be to create a plan to reach them.

What Works?: "How did you hear about us?" works wonders in finding out what specific message brought the customer in. Studies show if people hear about your business four or more times they perceive you to be a creditable business. Find out what advertising is working for you and build on it.

Test, Test, Test: Any successful marketer will tell you that testing is a necessary evil of business. Make an offer and record the results. Make an offer; compare the results to the first offer and so on. (See Chapter 11: "How To Test Your Advertising")

Make Sure You Can Do What You Say You Can Do: How many customers must you see to make a sale? Face to face, on the phone, by mail, or storefront. Can you deliver customer service to that number of people? If I sell fifty books a day on my web site that means I have to process 50 orders a day. That's pretty easy. An hour's work. If I sell 500 or 5000, then what? I need a few more computers, more employees to answer the email and process all the orders and a shipping department.Are you ready if your business becomes that good?

Choose Markets Carefully: It's not how many markets you can identify and open - it's how many you can profitably market to and service. Markets are always going to be evolving. With the web, who knows where we're going and how fast and what it will cost. Keep on top of what's happening in your marketplace.

Once you've identified your target market the next step is trying to understand why they buy.

For a complete table of contents for "The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less", click here.


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