First, I think you do have to spend money on advertising. And, yes, your website is your biggest ad. So if you don’t have a website that should be at the top of your list. And, it needs to be more than your business card.
How much to spend will vary by each individual. I can give you a range that I have seen for marketing for small fiber-arts related businesses, and that’s 3% to 10% of your gross revenue. That’s for marketing, so it includes more than advertising. Marketing is your overall plan for promoting, pricing, and placement of your product, and advertising is part of the promotional strategy. The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that businesses that generate less than $5 million in revenue allocate between 7 and 8 percent of revenues for marketing. They base these on gross margins in the 10 to 12 percent range. The National Federation of Independent Business suggests that small businesses allocate between 2 and 5 percent of sales specifically for advertising. They don’t consider the whole marketing budget. You could take both guidelines and end up with 5% for advertising and another 2% for other marketing. Of course, the larger your business, the more funds you have to allocate. If you expect to spend 5% for advertising in your business that will gross $100,000 this year, be sure you’ve set aside or have access to $5,000 for ads.
Regardless of the amount you spend, be sure that your advertising includes a “call to action” or CTA. It is a waste of money if you don’t tell people what you want them to do as a result of reading your ad. It could be as simple asking them to go to your website to sign up for your newsletter and get your free irresistible offer. It could be letting them know about a sale you are having. The idea is that they will take action from seeing your ad.
Look for places to advertise where large numbers of your ideal clients, not just interested parties, hang out. For example, companies advertise in The Professional Quilter or at the Creative Arts Business Summit because they know that our members are professionals and have more influence with a larger audience of quilters. They are “connectors” and the advertiser gets more from the expenditure.
When crafting your ad, remember that people tend to read in a “Z,” starting at the top left, across the top, down to the bottom left and then across the bottom. Focus on benefits and put that at the top of your ad. You want your customer to realize that you are the solution to their problem. Once you have them looking at your ad, realizing that you are the answer, they will follow the “Z” to see your name and contact info at the bottom.
Last, track your results. You need to figure out which ads are working for you and which are not. Then make adjustments to your marketing and advertising strategy.
Please share your experiences on advertising spending below.