Advertising isn’t just for Madison Avenue—now, more than ever, can small businesses use proven advertising strategies and tactics to reach their local audiences. Last week, I told you how to identify the right customer. But how do you connect? First, calculate your ad budget. Now let’s get the message out!
Below are a few fundamentals (along with actionable tactics) to get you started with advertising your service business.
Slogan or Tagline: These are the words that appear under your name in in all your advertising, including business cards, stationery, web site, estimates, etc.). Typically, they might summarize your competitive advantage, or some aspect of it. A sample tag line for Forest Lakes Mowing might be: “Like the big guys, for a little less,” or “When you want to know who’s in your yard.” Or, “Our extras aren’t extra.” The idea is to take your competitive advantage message—or part of it—and wrap it around your company’s name. You can even rotate these tag lines over different advertising cycles. However, stick with one to start, and see how well it does. If it seems to work, stay with it.
Testimonials: New business owners tend to believe they need to be in business a long time to accumulate testimonies, let alone advertise them. This is not true. Gather these testimonies even before you open your doors. Have family, friends, and colleagues experience your product or service and write compelling testimonies. Your website (see below) should feature such testimonies from day one.
Direct mail: Even in a digital world, many people still look forward to receiving their daily mail. With direct mail, you can address your customers by name, offering a more personalized approach. Moreover, a wide variety of inexpensive and easy formats are available. “Val Pak” can connect you to prospective customers in your zip code. You can also use simple postcards—or doorknob hangers—to target a smaller area, such as your immediate neighborhood. I’ve used a fulfillment company for direct mailing campaigns. Consider getting multiple quotes from companies like Cactus Mailing, VistaPrint, or a local company.
Radio: Never underestimate the power of broadcast, especially radio. It’s still a great way to communicate what your business does, provide first-person testimonies, and announce offers and discounts. I have found that having a local talk radio personality share his or her personal experience with your business to be highly effective. This may require you to provide a free demonstration of your service in exchange for an on-air