My name is Fran Joyce. I have a degree in Business with a minor in Economics. I am also a published author and the publisher, editor and marketing director of This Awful/Awesome Life. I’d like to discuss advertising possibilities for women entrepreneurs and small business owners.
We’ve all heard the term “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Think of your eggs as your advertising budget. Your basket is where you choose to advertise.
When you are just starting out, you may not think you have any eggs, so you rely solely on word of mouth to let people know about your business. I’ve been there and it works on a limited scale, but it’s exhausting.
You spend so much time trying to be at every networking group, festival, or symposium pressing the flesh and talking to people about your business that you have no time to actually run your business. Then, there are the costs (eggs) to belong or attend – you spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to give out business cards, flyers, and “free” samples. How many sales do you actually make as opposed to what you spend?
Speaking of word of mouth - One negative comment about your business can hurt everything you’ve worked to achieve if you do not have a way to let potential customers know what you do and how you stand behind your work.
Stand in a circle – whisper a secret to the person to your right and have them pass it on. When it gets back to you – it is never the same statement. Put it in writing and pass the paper around the circle – it will be the same. If someone changes it, you can easily prove it.
There are many platforms for written advertising with many different price tags – The Pennysaver, newspapers, community magazines, specialty magazines, national magazines, postcards and special mailers, and the Internet. Which one if any is right for you? Do you have enough eggs to try more than one?
Targeted markets have become a popular marketing ploy in recent years. Be aware that most targeted marketing is income based not interest or need based. Targeted marketing magazines send their publications to homes/neighborhoods valued above a set price point. The reasoning is your ad will be seen by people who can afford your services. The reality is if they do not need your services, it does not matter how much money they have. If your ad contains little more than basic contact information, it will not persuade them that they want/need your product or service.
If your community has its own magazine, will you be lost in a sea of almost identical business card sized ads or dwarfed by the polished quarter, half page, or full page ads of wealthy established businesses?
Specialty magazines which appeal to certain groups of consumers by age, gender, interest, or occupation are a good alternative if you can identify who your customer is. Of all the print publications available these would be my choice. For example if you sell women’s fashions or accessories, a magazine that focuses on female entrepreneurs or community leaders would be a smart move. Look at the cost. Will they work with you? Can you share the cost with other businesses?
Can you afford to advertise in a national magazine? Do you have an adequate mailing list to send postcards or flyers or will you have to buy one – the same one your competitors already use for mailings.
If you go the radio or television route, when will your commercial air? Will you reach many potential customers at 3am or can you pay premium rates for a better time?
I’ve saved online marketing for last. According to Bill Gates, “The future of advertising is the internet.”
Potential customers can read your contact information, see a photo and/or video of you, and access a direct link to your website. Your website should be your best marketing tool. You can list your education and qualifications; tell people about your business, and post customer testimonials and photos. The people who see an online ad are only one click away. If you sell your products online anyone with a computer is a potential customer. You don’t need mailing lists or have to worry about your flyer getting wet or damaged before anyone sees it, and you are not one of a sea of business cards in a publication that’s over fifty pages long. You need more than one basket, and at least one of them shouldn’t break the bank.
No advertising method is a guaranteed slam dunk for everyone. It can take several months for people to make up their mind about non-urgent purchases. Being seen every month can help – being able to afford the cost of advertising is important because you don’t always see immediate results. If you want to know about advertising rates for our publication, each issue has an article about advertising opportunities in This Awful Awesome Life. We have rates as low as $25 per month. Contact me via email at email@example.com for more information.
Thanks for letting me share my insights with you. I hope to hear from you soon.