First Person: 7 Tips to Get the Most Benefit from Your Advertising Budget

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I started my fulltime career in sales and marketing some 40 years ago selling radio advertising. Since then I moved into sales management and finally into owning my own small business for six years. During the last nine years, I have been a small business consultant. From 20003 to 2007, the majority of my consulting jobs were profit and expense control or organization for management jobs. From 2007, I have been doing sales and marketing consulting and coaching.

One of the toughest things for any business to do is ensure their advertising drives sales. This is especially true for small businesses. Because your advertising budget tends to be small, it becomes even more critical that each dollar invested in advertising is effective. While major corporations can effectively use image advertising, you need to focus on results.

Advertising for a small business isn't about getting your name out there. It must be about making sales. Both offline brick and mortar companies and Internet marketing businesses want to either get a lead or an actual sale.

In business-to-business sales, the lead enables you to establish contact. In Internet marketing, your lead will typically be someone who opted into your mailing list. Either way, your goal is to begin building a relationship that will result in future sales.

Savings Recommendations

I have written recommendations to save clients money on their advertising. In one case, I recommended they cut spending on Internet ads on non-producing portals, websites that provide access to a variety of information and tools. This saved them $111,000. In another recommendation, I saved a small retail business $11,000 or 22% of their advertising expenditures, by advising them to cut off spending that wasn't generating sales.

There are thing you can do to ensure the maximum benefit from your advertising budget. Look at the following:

7 Tips for More Effective Advertising Expenditures

1. Track your sales results

2. Multiple impressions are crucial

3. Focus on what they care about

4. Place your ads to reach your ideal customer profile

5. Trusted sources

6. Size matters

7. Placement matters

Track Your Sales Results

This is easier to track on the Internet but can still be done for other small businesses, especially retail stores, restaurants and services, like salons. One idea is to have a special price or special package coupon only available in that paper. It can also be a verbal coupon code.

Multiple Impressions Are Crucial

Recognize that any money you spend on advertising must produce multiple impressions in order to be effective and result in sales. The rule of thumb is 7 to 12 impressions before your prospect will be ready to buy. If you can't afford a sufficiently long campaign to impact prospects that often, you're probably wasting your money.

Place Your Ads to Reach Your Ideal Customer Profile

Targeting the right audience is vastly more productive than spending money on a wide circulation. For instance, one client had a specialty product that would benefit off-roaders. Competitive off-roaders would be willing to invest the money in this product provided he found where to advertise to reach them.

Focus on What They Care About

What pain or desire do they have that is strong enough to move them to action? Forget bragging. Speak to their interest first.

Trusted Sources

I first became aware of the power of advertising with a trusted source when I sold radio advertising. I learned that advertisers did best on Country music stations because the fans were loyal to their DJs. The other choice was talk radio because people were actively listening for information. Applied to the Internet, you can find trusted sites focused on your niche.

Size Matters

Print ads can reach a point of being ineffective if their size is too small. This is especially true when overwhelmed by much larger ads. If you must go small, use a really strong headline and tight copy in classified ads.

Placement Matters

In print media, like newspapers and magazines, be sure you get placed in the section your prospects read. People tend to read specific sections of interest, not the whole paper. So insist on the same section or sections your ideal audience reads.

The seven tips covered above will give you a start on what to do to get the most benefit from your investment in advertising. If you aren't satisfied with your results, look first at the following. Are reaching your ideal prospects? Is what you are promoting something they care about now? Wisely applying these suggestions will greatly increase your sales from your advertising.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from t his contributor :

First Person: Using Gifts, Freebies and Giveaways to Get a Prospect's Attention

First Person: How Information Overload Impacts Small Business Management

First Person: The Importance of Finding Your Ideal Customer Profile

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