Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
John Wanamaker, marketing pioneer, 1879
Many books have been written on how advertising works. Some people believe in the “strong” theory that advertising is able to make people buy. Others prefer the “weak” theory that advertising makes suggestions and people decide for themselves.
One of the earliest “strong” theories of advertising was called the AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) theory. It suggested that people could be led by the nose and persuaded to buy.
Whatever your views, there is a huge amount of evidence that advertising does work. Why else would corporations spend trillions of dollars on it each year?
For a home-based business, how exactly advertising works matters less than how to create effective advertising.
The simplest method for advertising a home business involves 3 steps – impact, persuasion and response.
To achieve impact, the advertising needs to be noticed, relevant to the customer, be memorable and clearly linked to the brand. Your ad should have a distinctive element that gets it noticed. Its content has to be relevant to the viewer, reader or listener and it must be well branded as belonging to you or your brand.
Puffery impresses nobody. Today’s customer is extremely savvy. Persuasive advertising contains one compelling element – a “reason to believe”. It must answer the question “You say you are better/bigger/cooler/better value. Why should I believe you?” The most persuasive arguments are evidence-based. So, you need to provide that evidence in the form of testimonials, statistics or by association. “By association” means that, if you are seen in credible company, your story will be more persuasive.
All your advertising will be wasted if nobody ever buys from you. The ultimate response you are seeking is for people to decide to buy. Advertising research has shown that the strongest aspect of advertising that has an immediate effect on decisions to purchase is “new news”. If your message contains content that is seen as new and unique, you have the greatest chance of persuading people to buy. So, critically assess your advertising content. Is it old hat, served up in a new guise, or is it really “new news”?
There are many physical forms your home-based business advertising can take. Here are some:
- Fliers – direct mail promotions
- Business cards – don’t forget to include your web address
- Website – we cover this in more detail on another page
- Promotional items – business giveaways
- Media advertising – print, radio, TV, community newspapers (freesheets)
- Publicity – Public relations
- Articles – in the media or online
- Radio interviews
Our own experience of business building is that there is one particularly powerful advertising method – word-of-mouth. It is easy to fall into the trap of “going it alone”. Networking, or building a network of allies promoting your business, is essential to home-based business success.
The best strategy for effective networking is simple – give, give, give! The more you share with and donate to others, the more it will be repaid via word-of-mouth.