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Advertising and Promoting Your Business

Each business requires a carefully tailored marketing and advertising plan to pinpoint its reach and grab the most desired customers, or "target market". There is no "one size fits all" solution. However, certain basic guidelines can help you set the right course:

(1) Print a good-quality business card which effectively communicates who you are and what you do.

(2) Decide who your "target market" is. This is the intersection between whom you wish to sell to, and who you think will actually buy your product or service. For example, if you are selling pizza, you might do best giving your pizzeria a catchy name like "Extreme Pizza", locating your business near a college or university, placing ads and specials in the student newspaper and distributing colorful flyers around campus. If instead you wished to target an market of upscale professionals, you could name your pizzeria Romana or Primavera, plan an elegant design for your menu and store interior and tailor your advertising to publications popular with that market.

(3) Set a workable budget for brochures, websites, print advertisements and other marketing "collateral". Be judicious about allocating the funds.

(4) Consider a Yellow Pages ad, or at least a plain text listing, especially if you are opening a retail store. At the same time, be aware that bigger advertising is not necessarily better. Although a full-page color ad in the Yellow Pages might be perfect for a pizzeria, it won't necessarily sell more beads.

(5) Pick several local newspapers or industry newsletters that you feel may reach your audience. Advertising sales departments can provide you with the demographics of their reading audience, e.g. their age, income, occupation, sex, and outside interests. Compare the demographics of these target publications with your desired market.

(6) Use common sense when formulating your advertising plan. If your store sells itself simply by being located smack in the middle of the best shopping area in Miami, you may not need an inordinate amount of advertising at all.

The key is to know your market. If you open a local copy shop, basic local newspaper and yellow pages ads and a few seasonal direct mail coupons may be your best bet. Print a good business card and drop it off at local businesses and institutions that may likely need your services in the future. Get to know the office managers at these businesses, and drop off sale notices.

Retail Stores: The Grand Opening

Many stores choose to stage a "grand opening" in which they offer opening specials and stage an advertising "blitz" in local papers and by direct mail. A kick-off sale on certain items, a "buy one, get one free" enticement often brings people in. Place some large banners and balloons in front of the store to let people know you are open for business. Consider a grand opening a special celebration that can bring in a needed boost of initial "buzz" for your store.


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