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When running a business - ESPECIALLY a new business - You NEED to advertise

February 3rd, 2015

Two of the worst possible sayings in business are:

  • "If you build it, they will come" and
  • "Build a better mousetrap and the world shall beat a path to your door"
  • The world cannot beat a path to your door if they do not know you exist

    Nothing could be further from the truth. If you build a better mousetrap:

    • How is the world to know that you did ?
    • How do they know it's better ?
    • How do they even know where to buy it ?

    There is this illusion that "word of mouth" will build an empire - To be sure, there are rare examples of this happening - Given there are over 25 million small businesses alone in the US, just how much "word of mouth" is going to be devoted to your "better mousetrap" amidst all the other "better mousetraps" ?

    "But I don't have the time or money for advertising..."

    Before you, the new, small business owner, fall into the excuse of "I'm new, I don't have the budget for advertising!" - Think on this: "Advertising" is not about spending millions on Superbowl ads. It is not about spending hundreds of thousands on network television spots - It's not even about spending hundreds in the local news paper. It's about letting people know you exist in the first place. Don't have the budget for radio ads ? Hey: I've been there. If you can afford a ream of paper, you can print flyers and distribute them yourself, locally. If you have a profit margin (and you should, or you should not be in business), you can offer part of that profit margin as a reward, discount or incentive for existing customers to recommend others.

    These are but two suggestions for advertising your business - Letting the world around you know what you offer and how it will benefit them. You should be spending at least some part of every week, in some form or another, in letting new people know about your business.

    If you do not announce that you are in business - How do you expect to stay in business ?

    I have been working in advertising and marketing for a long, long time. I cannot begin to describe the number of businesses I have seen, over the years - good, solid businesses with great products or services, fail and disappear because of a lack of customers. The reason for that lack of customers ? Few knew that the company was offering a product or service they (the public) needed or wanted.

    If your answer to distributing flyers yourself is "I can't - I'm too busy running my new business" - I have some harsh advice for you: Close your doors now, before you lose any more money and get a nine to five job. In other words: Suck it up. If you don't have the money to pay someone else to do it for you (and this is absolutely common and understandable in many a small business) then you do it yourself. One does not have to look very far to read about successful businesses whose founders were the ones washing the dishes, mopping the floors or driving the delivery trucks themselves, when they first opened their doors.

    There is no reason - or excuse - not to advertise in some way, shape or form

    With the ubiquity of the Internet and the myriad of popularity services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on - the opportunities for low and no cost advertising are nearly without limit.

    You need the self-honesty to realize that if you are not effective at your own advertising, you need to find someone who is

    There is a caveat to this, however: You might be a genius at fixing cars - An artiste when it comes to baking pastries or a genius when it comes to finances, but you also have to have the self-awareness to realize when your own advertising or promotional efforts don't work. I was talking with a new client about social media marketing, recently - Explaining that, especially on Facebook, a business cannot be posting the majority - or even a significant percentage - of posts about products on sale or new inventory in the store. Her answer: "Oh, but I don't - I've tried everything on Facebook and nothing has worked!" - So when I check her stores' Facebook page, after the meeting - sure enough - for the last year, every single post on her commercial Facebook page was about items on sale or new product/fashions in store. There was no reason for anyone on a social networking page to actually link themselves - socially - to her business.

    It is this self awareness that you need to have the realization that if you are not getting the new customers in, yourself, then you need to find someone that can. Yes, it will probably cost some money, but even then, contra is a wonderful thing. No, you're not going to get a top New York ad agency to do your promotions in exchange for oil changes on their cars, but if you look locally, especially with other new, small businesses, inevitably, you will find someone who has need of your skills as you have need of yours.

    In short: If you truly have built the better mousetrap, you need to tell the world that you have done so, otherwise, that new, great product of yours will be sold for pennies on the dollar in the going out of business sale.

    Marc Bissonnette, Ontario, Canada

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