When you’re trying to come up with a good advertising plan or overall growth plan for your small business…please consider your competition…
How many direct local competitors do you have?
This is important because if you only have two direct competitors, you won’t have to advertise too much. Or at least you wouldn’t have to be too elaborate with your ads. But if you have a ton of competition, you’ll need to be smart, creative, and find a way to stand out.
Let’s say you’re starting up a used car lot, and you’re in a city where you have about 65 other competitors. And they all advertise in some manner. Yikes. That means you better think long and hard about your advertising plan. You’re going to want to have a niche of some kind. Or a unique guarantee. And you’ll need to budget adequately for your advertising. A “let’s try this for $500″ tactic isn’t going to move the needle. You’ll need to decide WHO you want to be. What NEED can you fill that isn’t being filled? If you can’t find or create a solution to a problem, I’d re-think the strategy of opening up that business.
But what if you sell a popular brand of something that nobody else offers? Or provide a service that isn’t being duplicated yet? Then, you can get by with an advertising plan that is directed at more people and costs less money to implement. For example, you wouldn’t have to air 6 radio ads a day, 52 weeks a year. You could maybe just air 4 ads a day, every other week. And you wouldn’t have to have a 60-second ad, you could use 15 or 30-second ads.
A good SEO-only strategy would work if people were already familiar with your product or service and they could just look online. And “Poof” there you are staring back at them through their computer screen. But sometimes people don’t even know that the product or service you offer exists, or they need to be informed about the benefits you can provide, so SEO won’t help much.
How about plumbers? Or fitness centers? In my area, there seems to be an overabundance of them. The plumbers have tried to advertise locally, but nobody knows how to help them stand out and be remembered, so they stop advertising. They condemn it. But all they need is someone competent to help them. They need a strategy that people will care about. They probably have something they do REALLY WELL. Take that “thing” and make it your ad strategy (as long as people LOVE that thing in which you do really well).
Fitness centers need to decide if it’s worth charging $7 a month. Can they stay in business for that? I don’t think so. Fitness centers or gyms need to figure out WHY their long-term customers LOVE them. Once you’ve figured that out, then center your strategy around that. Maybe all of your long-term profitable customers are within a 15-block radius of your gym. If that’s the case, then why not use Direct Mail to that proximity? Don’t try to make people cross town to visit you. Maximize your profits at one location…and then look for your next location to open. Whatever the reason your best customer LOVES you…take that and create your strategic ad plan.
I’m writing about COMPETITION because similar situations have come up for me lately. A business owner wants more from their advertising than it could possibly ever deliver. And then the ad person takes the blame. I get stressed out when I try to make the impossible happen. And it’s dumb of me to even try. And irresponsible. I bring up these issues with a business owner, and they dismiss it. They think that the “right ad” will be the magic bullet.
I used to think that maybe I just didn’t have the confidence and ability to make the impossible, possible. But now, I’ve figured out that I have the ability to do great things…and it’s okay to tell a business owner the truth…and turn down their money. I’m able to say, “In my opinion, what you want will cost you too much money.” Or I can suggest improvements and ideas for them to fix WITHIN their business before I agree to help them with their advertising.
Before you throw up a “Hail Mary” with your advertising, consider your competitive situation. Ask yourself if what you want is even possible given the current state your business is in. I might suggest you completely re-do your bathrooms, or have your service guys not look like bums, or help you create a unique niche…before I accept the responsibility for making your advertising work.
I think it all comes down to your competition. If you have a lot, then the little things matter to a massive degree. You have to be flawless. You need a unique offering of some kind. You need above average customer service. You need better ads and a bigger ad budget.
If you don’t have much competition, Congratulations. You probably have a lot of market potential and there’s not much to worry about. Yet.
Have a great day!
I’m a marketing guy and ad writer. This isn’t just about better ads either, it’s also about a strategy to set you apart and help you be remembered (in a good way). I write this marketing blog because I’m on a mission to help you get more from your advertising bucks. I also wrote a a no-nonsense book about how to take a bigger slice of market share with better advertising. It’s called “Take a Bigger Slice”.