Business Plan Center

10 advertising tips

Advertising your business can play a crucial role in driving your company's sales.

Telling customers about your product or service can be just as important to your success as how you are delivering it. This makes an advertising strategy a critical component of your business plan.

Here are 10 advertising tips to help you determine your strategy.

1. Develop your framework.

Before you start building an advertising plan, give yourself a blueprint by answering these questions:

  • How is your product or service unique?

  • Who will buy it?

  • What they will pay for it?

  • Where do they live and shop?

This information will help you set goals for the return on your advertising dollars and guide the development of your strategy.

2. Determine your target market.

Your marketing plan should define your target market, and that's where the bulk of your advertising should be focused. Keep that market niche at the center of your strategy as you plan how to advertise your business.

3. Understand your competitors.

Research your competitors, their offerings, and their advertising tactics to understand which demands they aren't meeting. This information can help you figure out how and where your advertising might fit.

4. Set the goal of your ads.

Advertising can achieve a number of objectives, including:

  • Promoting your company's identity

  • Reinforcing your relationship with existing clients

  • Attracting new customers

Consider which tactics will further your business goals best. Then, let those objectives guide the marketing campaigns you create.

5. Identify effective ad channels.

Given your target market, seek out the publications, websites, blogs, radio channels, or social media outlets in which this market is most likely to see or hear your message. Most advertising options should have information on their major audience, so ask for related data from the outlets you choose.

6. Follow ad regulations.

When you craft your ads and messages, be aware of related standards and regulations. The Federal Trade Commission enforces laws around truthful advertising, ads targeting children, health and environmental claims, and more. There may also be other regulators for your industry, such as the Food and Drug Administration for pharmaceuticals.

7. Treat advertising as a business expense.

Your projected company budget should include advertising. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the advertising and marketing line item should total between 2% and 5% of your budget, depending on your size, profit margin, and whether you’re running a startup or existing business.1 Generally, the SBA suggests that small businesses with less than $5 million in revenue allocate 7% to 8% of their revenue to marketing.

8. Plot out the year.

Once you find the ideal advertising vehicles and settle on a budget, create a 12-month plan. Consider the high-selling seasons for your products or services, allow for potential lag times between ad deadlines and publish dates, plan for any impact on company cash flows, and look at seasonal factors and editorial calendars for your chosen media.

9. Monitor your marketing metrics.

Like any business investment, advertising should not be a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Gauge the response of your initial efforts and adjust the messaging, placement, and expense as necessary. Depending on what your ads call customers to do, you can measure sales, visits to your store, how many new email addresses you've collected, or number of shares on Facebook.

10. Create ads purposefully.

Don't just jump into a medium simply because competitors are doing it or because everyone seems to be talking about it. Stick to channels that most effectively hit your target market, and purchase enough time or space to effectively rise above the noise.

Depending on the scope of your advertising campaigns, you may handle copywriting and design in-house or hire a creative agency. Whether or not you have the experience or time to create ads will also factor into your decision. Either way, consider how you want to advertise your business and include your ideas in your business plan.

Want to learn how you can broaden your customer reach? Here are six ways to help sharpen your focus.

1 "How to Set a Marketing Budget that Fits your Business Goals and Provides a High Return on Investment." U.S. Small  Business Administration. (2013)