Every small business knows it needs marketing to be successful. But trying to run day-to-day operations on often thin margins can leave a business owner with a limited, or even non-existent, advertising budget. According to veteran advertising consultant Ron Pradinuk, however, you can make even the smallest of advertising budget go a long way by simply exploring all the options available and taking the time to make a plan.
Pradinuk has operated Winnipeg-based Pradinuk Advertising since 1979, and he was a featured speaker at the Retail Council of Canada’s recent STORE 2012 conference in Toronto. In his presentation entitled, “How to advertise when you have (no) ‘only a little’ money,” Pradinuk said his years of experience have taught him that regardless of how much money a business has to spend on advertising, it won’t matter if the message doesn’t get to the right consumer.
For that reason, he recommends that business owners start out by investing time in researching their market and customer base. Statistics Canada can be a useful free resource here, he says, providing demographic information by region and municipality on things like age and income distribution and ethnicity. “Start by doing your homework,” said Pradinuk. “Do you really know the consumers in your market? You can make assumptions, but they may, or may not, be true.”
Once the retail business owner is confident they know who their target customer is and where they live, said Pradinuk, the next step is to craft a message that will both resonate with that customer and cast the business in the best possible light. Regardless of what advertising medium you choose to communicate, he said, the message should touch on the “cornerstones” that make up your particular value proposition—such as price, value, convenience, knowledge, exclusivity and customer service.
Also, if you use more than one advertising medium, added Pradinuk, it is important to maintain the same look and message throughout. “Be consistent, and spend money on good production values, because good production will pay you back,” he said.
When it comes to choosing which advertising medium to invest your money in, Pradinuk believes they are all equally effective in their own way. Who you are talking to and how you use the particular medium will ultimately determine how successful it is, he said. The keys for any medium, he said, are reach, meaning the percentage of your market that will be exposed to your ad, and frequency, meaning the number of exposures in a given time. “No frequency, no message,” warned Pradinuk. “Consumers usually have to be exposed again and again to an ad before they gain enough trust to try something out.”