Marketing is central to the success of any business, but the size of a business substantially affects its ability to reach its customers. Small businesses often have a limited budget for marketing activities and generally confine their marketing activities to advertising. When advertising, all businesses must seek a cost-effective medium that provides a suitable number of exposures to the greatest number of customers for the least amount of money.
1. Sponsorship Banners: Promotional sponsorships like vinyl banners can be a valuable tool when advertising to the local community, and are remarkably low cost to produce. Sports programs at local schools will often allow businesses to display these types of advertisement at games in attempt to raise money. Advertising at local academic institutions allows businesses to improve their local community and raise brand awareness at the same time. Local game advertisements allow businesses to target individuals who live within a specific school district and maintain a captive audience for the duration of the sporting event.
2. Direct Mail: Direct mail is one of the most common forms of advertising for local businesses. Direct mail campaigns involve sending advertisements directly to customers in order to communicate the marketing message. Direct mail advertisements have the advantage of being highly customizable in terms of both content and format. Sizing, laminates, length, and even thickness are all variable. Businesses can produce small flyers or send entire catalogs. Unfortunately, direct mail campaigns present problems of clutter, where the recipient is so overwhelmed with marketing messages that any one particular message is likely to be lost. Additionally, many advertisements go directly into the wastebasket, thus losing any repeat exposures that a permanent advertisement might ordinarily provide.
3. Radio Advertising: Radio is a valuable advertising medium for local businesses. Radio advertisements are inexpensive to produce, offer businesses a high reach, can be targeted at listeners of specific programs, and airtime is inexpensive to buy; this results in a low cost per thousand exposures. The limitations of radio include a highly variable reach depending upon the station, the region, and the time of day, and the fact that many people rarely sit and do nothing other than listen to the radio. Listeners are often completing other tasks while listening to the radio, such as driving or working. This reduces comprehension, which necessitates additional exposures.
4. Newspaper and Magazine: Print media is a classic source of advertising. Newspapers and magazines offer businesses the chance to present their advertisement to a highly targeted demographic. Nearly every town has its own paper and every hobby has its own magazine. Businesses can create and place advertisements in such media at a low cost. It is not perfect; the limitations of modern print media include a potentially low circulation and clutter. However, for businesses who can produce eye-catching advertisements and identify publications with a high circulation, print advertisements are worth including in any advertising campaign.
5. Television Presence: Television advertising is highly effective at presenting a message to customers. Unlike most media, television advertisements allow the business to provide both visual and auditory stimuli; even if the viewer is not looking at the television or if the viewer has the television muted, the business can present its brand and its offerings to the potential consumer. Using both auditory and visual stimuli, businesses can present far more information in a television advertisement than they can in other media.
Unfortunately, airtime is expensive relative to newspaper or radio advertising. It is also less precise than other media. Confining the advertisements to a local market is always possible, but if the business specializes in a particularly narrow field, there is no guarantee that the audience is even interested in the products or services. Producing television advertisements is also more challenging than producing other forms of advertising. Creating brand awareness requires a refined touch and businesses with no video experience may be better off hiring an expert, who will usually be expensive.
When advertising a local business, the direct costs are important but targeting is critical. Advertisers must seek out media with a low cost per thousand exposures. These exposures must be aimed at a targeted audience. The advertisement should not blend in with clutter. Finally, the advertisement itself should not be excessively expensive. While every medium has its limitations, local businesses will generally benefit from community-based advertising.