Advertising for Small Business: Top Mistakes to Avoid

Expert media buyer Amy Alexander of Scottsdale-based Innovative Media Partners describes the top four common mistakes made by first-time advertisers and how to avoid them.

Scottsdale, AZ, March 30, 2012 --( Small businesses are afforded an ever-growing number of choices when it comes to advertising. From traditional media like print, television and radio to online pay-per-click campaigns and even mobile marketing, effective advertising options exist for virtually any budget. Regardless of the media a business owner chooses, however, there are basic rules of advertising that must be followed for a campaign to succeed. Expert media buyer Amy Alexander recommends business owners understand the following top advertising mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Setting an unrealistic budget. Business owners must ensure the amount they plan to spend on advertising is neither too high nor too low. For instance, if a company selling brooms nets $6.50 per broom and sets a goal of selling 10,000 brooms, the expected profit is $65,000. If the company's advertising budget is $75,000, the campaign will result in a net loss of $10,000. On the other hand, if the company allocates too small of a budget, the campaign may not have the impact needed to move the needle. A one-time advertisement in a print magazine will not resonate with potential buyers in the same way a three or six-month campaign will. Most new customers will need to see a company's name more than once before they buy.

2. Not knowing the target audience. Targeting the right audience is critical to the success of a campaign. A business must know the average age of their consumer, their geography (zip code), lifestyle characteristics and purchasing habits. Many first-time advertisers mistakenly believe their audience is a mirror of themselves, but this is not necessarily the case. Advertisers must target the TV stations, radio programs and print publications that are most popular with the people who are most likely to purchase their products or services. Businesses can conduct surveys to discover the habits of their customers, and the sales department of any media outlet will typically share audience demographics.

3. Failing to track and measure ROI. Before an advertising campaign even begins, business owners must have a plan in place to track resulting leads and customers. Advertisers can track data like call volume, web traffic, and point-of-sale purchases. "How did you hear about us?" should be the first question asked of every customer who calls, walks in or visits the website. When businesses don’t track the success of a campaign or medium, it is increasingly difficult to know what works.

4. Lacking a solid advertising strategy. With so many types of media available, small businesses can easily mis-judge where their advertising dollars are best spent. A solid strategy requires the use of qualitative and quantitative data to reach the right target audience using the most effective media. The advertisement itself must have a compelling message and call to action while promoting the company's brand. Working with a professional advertising agency or media buyer can help a novice advertiser develop a well-rounded, comprehensive campaign that accounts for market conditions and trends while remaining cost-efficient. A professional can leverage existing relationships with media outlets to secure lower pricing or additional visibility, resulting in savings for the advertiser.

About Amy Alexander

Amy Alexander is the co-founder of Scottsdale-based Innovative Media Partners, which specializes in negotiating regional and national multi-media contracts that are packaged specifically around the goals of each individual client. Amy has led accounts for clients including the Arizona Lottery, the Arizona Department of Health Services, National Airlines, and the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information, visit
Innovative Media Partners
Amy Alexander