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Before you place an ad

Ask and answer the following questions before you start your ad campaign.

Am I prepared to "hit" my customers at least six times?
The average consumer needs about six "hits" in the form of an advertisement, direct mail piece, or other marketing tool to connect the name of a business with what it offers. Buying one ad in your local newspaper is useless -- plan at least 6 ways you'll hit your target audience.

Who do I want to reach?
Be clear about who your target market is and where they are. Find out what they read, listen to, and watch so you know the best ways to reach them.

Should I buy an ad in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, or on TV?
Your budget will play a role in which medium you choose. Print and television can both be effective. Broadcast ads tend to be more expensive, but you may find it reasonable to buy a slot on a local radio show.

Run your ad in the right section of a newspaper or magazine. A flower shop or jeweler advertising for Valentine's Day may want to choose the Sports section to reach male audiences, while a caterer will do well in the Food section. Check to see if the newspaper or magazine runs special sections for Weddings, Holidays, Back-to-School, Retirement Planning, and more. Readers save these sections, so these are good places to advertise.

For radio or television ads, choose programs that target your customer base. An auto repair shop should pick a car show, a pet store may choose a children's show or animal program, while a kitchen equipment specialist will do well on a cooking show.

What is remnant space?
Newspapers often have last-minute ad space, or remnant space, available for discounted sale right before publication if they haven't sold all their slots. If your money is tight, ask the sales team at your target publication to contact you if they have remnant space. Make sure you have a camera-ready ad for these last-minute situations.

What do I want the customer to do?
Every ad should include a call to action that urges the customer or potential customer to come to your store, call you, or visit your Web site. Identify the goal of your ad before you buy it.

How will I track results?
Spending money on advertising is a waste if you never know if the ads worked. Create a system for tracking your success. Ask people how they heard about you or ask them to refer to the ad when they contact you.

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