Here’s Why Marketing A Small Business Isn’t Rocket Science 1

Here’s Why Marketing A Small Business Isn’t Rocket Science

We see it all the time… business owners throwing good money after visually appealing marketing ‘strategies’ that do nothing for their bottom line.

Or who treat marketing like an item on a check list … the only objective is to get it done, not get it done right.

But let’s be clear… nice brands and completed to-do lists do not put money in your bank account. SALES do. And sales increases only come when someone identifies your offer and pays their hard-earned for the privilege of buying XYZ product or service. But you knew that already, right?!

Well, here’s what you might not know…

How to write effective advertisements – you know, the kind that yields a return on investment we were talking about earlier? Well, today I want to give you some tips on how to create advertisements that hit the mark with your target market. I’ll show you the 3 must-know marketing principles as well as give you useful tips to maximise effectiveness. So let’s get started.

3 Must-know marketing principles

Target, Offer, Copy…

The first step to writing a great ad is identifying your target audience. And you do that by asking yourself two questions… WHO specifically is my target audience for this marketing campaign? And WHERE will I find them in the highest concentration? The key here is to be as specific as is possible…So you might know:

  • the suburb they live in
  • the amount of cash they’d be willing to spend
  • how they think i.e. what MOTIVATES them to buy
  • the kind of media they consume e.g. social, radio, direct mail, email, telephone, word of mouth of your existing clients (referrals), club memberships
  • and so on…

The second step is to make an appealing offer to your target audience. To do that, you will need to ask yourself these two more questions. WHAT do they want to buy or achieve through my product or service? Then, WHY do they want or need my product or service. Here’s some tips you can take away:

  • A copy writing trap is to focus on product or service, and not on the benefits/opportunities your target market want
  • You probably won’t come up with the ‘perfect’ offer in the first instance, so test several offers
  • Don’t be shy, ask for the sale
  • Get the headline first and call to action down first; worry about the detail later

The third principle here is all about the HOW … How can you best get the OFFER to them? This could be via a letter, an event, a call, an email, a website, a personal visit, a package or maybe an advert … it all depends on your WHO (target market) and WHERE they are most likely to be in the highest possible concentration.

So to write an effective advertisement, you first need to understand the TARGET audience is the focus, their needs matter. Second the OFFER you make is about meeting their needs – using the right words, starting with the headline and call to action. And finally, HOW you go about communicating that offer depends entirely on your target.

OK, so that’s the principles. Now it’s time to look a few tips and strategies…

Headline writing

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy, Advertising Legend.

If you hadn’t heard of David Ogilvy, now is a perfect time to learn a little something from the man they call “The Father of Advertising.”

In opening quote, Ogilvy essentially is saying the headline is about 80% of the success of the ad. So invest your time writing it, testing it, measuring its results, and once you’re done doing that – test another…

No advertising piece is ever ‘set and forget’. Rather every piece should be evaluated for its effectiveness to pull the dollar.

But if you have never written a headline before – or at least with this amount of intent – I’ve put together 7 tips I’ve come across in effective (sales driven) headline writing.

7 cash-cow headline tips
  1. Your headline has to have the word YOU in it so the reader knows it’s for them … too often people write as one of the 3 little pigs, we, We, WE all the way home. Less I, we, etc and more you and your etc.
  2. WII-FM, stands for What’s in it for me … you have to write about the major benefits in your headline and make sure it’s not just a fact it has to complete the sentence, so that you … For example, it has this fact, so that you … benefit …
  3. Open a loop in the headline that has to be closed in the advert, such as the headline for this article, see we could have written, “You can write a great headline” and you would have said, yes I can and gone on, but with the here’s how, you have to read the article to close the loop. Kind of like watching a movie half way, you kind of need to see the end.
  4. Longer is often better than shorter, don’t try to be short for the sake of it, one of my best headlines ever was short, Business is Booming, but most have been 8 words or longer, like 11 reasons you need to get your feather and down quilt cleaned right now. This headline increased newspaper responses 11 times for that company.
  5. Don’t use questions as a headline, use statements … statements lead you somewhere, questions ask you to make a decision and most often never lead us to read the rest of the ad.
  6. Target your audience rather than just going for everyone … see if you wrote the word SEX you would get a lot of readers, but most often the wrong type of readers. instead you should target like, “Attention single mothers …” is far more targeted and far better as a headline.
  7. Your company name is only important to you, prospects want to know what you can do for them, not your company name …

OK, so that’s the rules. But to get your brain going and put these rules into action, here are 5 proven headline starters … any of them sound familiar to you? (I started this blog post with “Here’s how…”)

5 Headline starters…
  1. Here’s how you …
  2. Now you can …
  3. Here’s why …
  4. 7 Reasons why …
  5. Announcing or At Last …

Now you can use other styles of headlines (check out a site called but the list above will get you started. I suggest you try them out in your current promotions and measure the result i.e. did you receive more qualified leads? Did your conversion rate increase/decrease? What happened to the average dollar sale? And if you find a headline that works, tweak it again until you achieve your targets.

So there you have some handy principles and tips to create effective advertisements. Let’s move on some common sense – but often forgotten – ways to promote and generate leads for your business.

How to bring your advertising together

19 Ways to Leverage your existing Marketing with a website

If you’re like me, you will have tried many different advertising mediums in order to find the right one for the market. And with the emergence of online media, you will have invested in ecommerce, email newsletters, and online social/networking sites.

What it is often easy to forget however is you need to promote your website in order to drive traffic. For some, that means Google advertising and Facebook advertising etc… but these methods (although necessary) cost $$$$. If you’re looking for cost effective ways to promote your business online, consider the 19 methods below.

    1. Invoices / Statements

Adding a website address ( to invoices provides an avenue for customers to gain further information about the billed item, other items the business provides, and have access to more detailed contact information to enquire further about the invoice.

    1. Email footer

Email is an essential communication tool in today’s business world. Adding an email footer (see example below) to your email acts as an education tool that teaches suppliers, prospects, and customers how they should make contact or find out more information about your business.


John Smith | Managing Director
PO. Box 1 Melbourne VIC 3350
Ph: 03 5000 0000 | Fax: 03 5000 0000
[email protected]

    1. Quotations

In your job quotes, take the opportunity to educate consumers on other products your business sells by adding a line like ‘Joe Bloggs is dedicated to stocking the products our customers want. To check out our product range visit for more information’.

    1. Business cards

Business cards only provide a small area to tell your customers About You. By adding your website address to your cards, you’re directing customers to literally pages of information about the business and the individuals that run it.

    1. Letterheads

Make the most of your communication with clients by directing them to your website. This allows consumers to gather more information about your business, the message you’re conveying, respond to an invitation, or take advantage of that special offer – saving the business time in answering phone calls.

    1. With compliments slips

Increase the effectiveness of complimentary items by directing prospects to learn more about your business and how you can serve them better than the competitors.

    1. Brochures

On brochures, direct customers to your website to purchase items at prices only available on the internet, download a FREE copy of the brochure, or join a website membership group to receive FREE weekly, monthly, or quarterly, brochures ‘just like this one’.

    1. Phone: On Hold Messages

Direct customers to your website for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ’s), to gain more information about your product range, or for staff contact details to make the communication process easier in the future.

    1. Building signage

By adding your website address to signs on your building aids consumer pre-purchase research. How? It gives ‘drivers-by’ a way of finding out more information about the products you sell, your opening hours, how you can meet specific needs, and introduces staff to consumers who want to purchase from you.

    1. Promotion Material i.e. uniforms, caps, notepads, pens, magnets, in-store signage
    2. Yellow Pages advertisements

Put an advertisement in the yellow pages and it will be seen by thousands. Businesses who add their web address to these advertisements multiply the effect by directing the thousands to a website optimised to educate clients on the who, why, and how’s of making a purchase.

    1. Newspaper advertisements

The life span of the newspapers we read is generally 1 or 2 days. When small business owners direct readers to have a platform which runs 24 / 7 and 365 days a year, long lasting advertising messages can then be established.

    1. Radio advertisements

A 15 second radio slot doesn’t give much time to educate consumers on the benefits of using a product. By verbally directing consumers to a website allows a business to communicate all the benefits of using a product. TIP: Upsell your products by adding a line like: People who purchased this product also purchased product X, Y, Z.

    1. Newsletters & Direct Mail correspondence

Research has revealed that consumers are looking more and more to the internet, not only for pre-purchase research but for actually making the purchase. Through Newsletter and Direct Mail correspondence

    1. Vehicle signage

Use vehicle signage to provide an easy avenue to learn more about the business and its product offerings. Simply a web address (or email address) to car signage and help customers not only know about the business products, but can adds another communication channel

    1. Product stickers and swing tags

A website allows customers to find out more about how the product is made, similar products, product manufacturing practices, and environment sustainability efforts.

    1. Price lists

Placing a downloadable copy of price lists allow a businesses target market to easily access information which can cause organic word of mouth as consumers send to friends.

    1. SMS footer & mobile phone message

Website addresses in SMS footers or in the body of the text allows consumers to get more information about products. This builds up the sales process.

    1. Job advertisements

The space in a job advertisement may not be enough to let potential employees know about the full range of benefits and culture of the organisation. Using web technology businesses can outline the job in the newspaper or in-store signage and then direct prospect team members to a website which introduces the team as well as the benefits of the job.


Marketing a small business isn’t rocket science, but it does require a dollars and cents approach i.e. if it doesn’t return a positive return on invest, don’t do it! To achieve this, you will need to consider the principle Target, Offer, Copy and genuinely put the needs of your market, first … forget about pretty advertisements and message mediums the market will NEVER like.

Bringing this all together is making your offer accessible to the market. Consider promoting your website, social networking site etc on existing media to give your business the best chance at generating qualified leads which in turn become paying customers.

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