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Developing an advertising program is highly dependent upon what types of goods or services one wishes to market. Advertising venues are nearly infinite, with the most effective centering around print, the broadcast media, and the Internet. There do exist general rules and basic guidelines, however, that are applicable for any business enterprise.
Every business, whether large or small, should set an advertising budget and follow it closely. Surprisingly, many businesses never take this step, viewing advertising as a luxury that will be utilized after a positive revenue stream is apparent. This practice is in direct opposition to building a successful and loyal clientele. In point of fact, a budgeted, well-planned advertising program is just as important an aspect of business as a solid lease, qualified employees, and up-to-date equipment.
The best type of advertising program is one that is consistent and long-term. The rule of thumb in the advertising business is that potential customers are just beginning to notice an ad when the business owner is tired of hearing or seeing it. Short-term advertising, or simply placing an ad now and then for special events, tends to only bring in one-time customers. The goal of an effective advertising program is to create long-term name recognition. Advertising should be viewed not as a tool to sell a product so much as a strategy designed to build a reputation.
An extremely important aspect of a successful advertising program begins with research. First, determine the age, gender, likes, and dislikes of the market you wish to attract. Next, research all available advertising outlets. Find out circulation figures for newspapers via the Audit Bureau of Circulations®. The popularity of television and radio stations can usually be compiled from Nielson Media Research® and the Arbitron® ratings.
Successful media outlets will often be more than happy to provide this information, as they wish to boast a bit of their popularity. Media outlets reaching few people will do just the opposite, and will likely tout their novelty or niche market. In most cases, it is usually best to apply your advertising dollars to those venues that reach the biggest audience. It should also be remembered that most media outlets will cut their prices and haggle. You simply have to ask.
Diversity is key in an advertising program, and thanks to the Internet, quite a bit of advertising can be had for free. In some cases, a business might wish to place banner ads on Internet websites, or even take part in pay-per-click or affiliate advertising plans. For the lowest cost and the greatest return, you can promote your business online via the plethora of social networking sites, forums, and chat rooms. In any case, it is best to formulate a program that utilizes print, broadcast, and Internet, discovering over time which method is the most effective for your individual situation.