Guide

Advertising: the basics

How advertising can help your business

Advertising can be anything from your shop sign or a website, to an advertisement in a trade magazine or a 30-second radio slot.

Advertising can:

  • provide basic information such as your contact details and website address
  • increase sales by telling potential customers about your product or service
  • tell customers about changes to your service, new product launches and improvements
  • increase your short-term sales with a specific one-off message - informing people of a special offer or a particular benefit of your product
  • prompt specific action - perhaps getting customers to visit your premises or website, or use a discount voucher by a specified time
  • remind existing customers about your business
  • change people's attitudes and perceptions of your business
  • help to create or develop a distinctive brand for your business to help you stand out from your competitors
  • make your business first choice for customers, ahead of your competitors
  • generate awareness of your business
  • develop a particular market niche or position

Advertising doesn't always need to be about sales and marketing. You can also use it to:

  • recruit staff - a recruitment advertisement should also be a chance to promote your business
  • source suppliers and contractors - this also helps to position your business as active and expanding

Target your customers

Decide whether your target audience is local or regional, national or international, or a mixture. See define your target market. Remember that a local business might benefit from national advertising, particularly if it is looking to expand into new territories.

You can advertise in a wide range of different media. Using a media mix can help to reinforce the message or information you want to communicate.

Before selecting a particular type of media, you should find out from the media business and other independent sources about their circulation or audience figures and what the audience penetration, or 'reach', of their product is. Basically, you need to know how many, where and who to. Figures can normally be broken down into age groups, average income and other useful indicators.

Don't be tempted to buy advertising space in a certain type of media just because you read, see or hear it yourself - it should always be focused on your potential customers.

Also remember you have a duty to ensure that your advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful.