Shoestring Advertising

As an old Ikea adage says, "You don't have to be rich to be clever".

Faced with limited advertising budgets, small businesses find it difficult to compete against larger well-heeled competitors. Unfortunately, many do not pay close attention to how their ads are created, resulting in hard-earned cash flushed down the drain. To make your advertisements work harder for you, one should follow some simple rules.

Listen To Your Customers

Know who your customers are. What makes them tick? What are their primary concerns, likes and dislikes? Do a simple survey or conduct focus groups with potential customers. Gear your advertising copy and creative towards that.

Provide A Customer Benefit or Solve Their Problem

It’s not about your CEO, your wonderful feature-filled product, your latest technology, or your spanking new building. It’s all about your customers. Fulfil their needs, satisfy their desires or solve their problems and say so.

Study Your Competitors

Find out how your competitors are advertising and their promotional tools. Which media do they appear in more often? What type of messages or graphics do they use? What is their value proposition? What strategies do they use to attract and retain their customers?

Differentiate Yourself

Having studied the competition, explore ways and means to be better than them. Your ads should be different from the rest, yet easy enough for your customers to appreciate them. Emphasise your Unique Selling Points (USPs) vis-à-vis what’s out there in the market.

Be Clear and Easy To Understand

Do not be swept by the temptation to create clever and ingenious prose. Instead, remember the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple & Stupid). In our fast-paced society, few have the time or patience to decipher a clever ad. Make your message loud, clear and easy to understand.

Make Your Offer Compelling

An irresistible offer never fails to draw attention. Notice how powerful the words FREE, SALE and WIN are in the world of advertising? However, be careful not to rely too much on promotions and price gimmicks alone.

Be Consistent

A consistent advertisement engenders customer recall, loyalty and familiarity. The world’s leading brands like Coke, Microsoft, and Sony put great pains in keeping their advertising consistent. Being consistent improves your credibility and positions your business more strongly against the sea of competition.

Use Images or Graphics Appropriately

A cardinal sin committed by many advertisers is to use overtly abstract images. Be mindful that most consumers are hard-pressed for time. You want them to buy your product or try your service, not scratch their heads trying to solve your ad!

Make It Easy For Your Customers

Remember to include your contact particulars like address, emails, website URLs, fax numbers, phone numbers and so on. If your business is located in an obscure corner of Singapore, insert a small map and include the nearest MRT station and buses that go there.

Brief your Advertising Agency/ Design House Thoroughly

Miscommunication between client and agency can be eliminated if a comprehensive briefing is provided, peppered with examples, references and relevant information. Information such as the target audiences, advertising objectives, product factsheets, images, preferred copy writing style and so on should be provided from the onset.

Above All, Be Real

A chief grouse of many consumers is that businesses sometimes over promise and under deliver. Keep your offers and special deals genuine. Do not fall into the trap of promotions that need to be validated by a thousand and one different terms and conditions.