Entrepreneurship

Advertising Strategies for Small Business by Patrick Mackaronis

Advertising Strategies for Small Business

The following is a guest post from Patrick Mackaronis, director of business development for New York City social network startup Brabble. For further reading on Pat’s ideas, please check out Home Business Mag’s piece Patrick Mackaronis Reveals Six Options for Ideal Startup Investment.

You’ve got a great business that can be very beneficial to many people. You know that advertising is the key to a successful business and the best way to promote your product or services, but can be rather costly, especially for a small business. You need direct advertising ideas that work well, and don’t come with the high price tag that big companies can afford. Here are some strategies that may work for your business.

Advertising can be as simple as word of mouth, and as varied as in print, online, by radio, and through television. Before you advertise, whatever the medium, make sure you know who your target market is so you can direct your advertising efforts in the right direction. Then you will best know the medium to advertise in, whether it be local or across the Internet, or both.

The Yellow Pages for Offline and Online Advertising

Your local Yellow Pages are still the best way to advertise, especially for new businesses. You want people to be able to find you. Many people still look in the Yellow Pages when they want to find a business. In today’s time, not only is your ad in the printed version, but it also includes your ad being available online at the main website where people all over the world can view it. Get the biggest ad you can afford, without overstepping your budget.

Some areas have more than one telephone book. Put your ad in as many as you can. A lot of the telephone companies will give you a discount for putting your ad in more than one listing or phone book.

There are also a few different types of “yellow pages” online where you can put your ad that is relatively low cost. Check out:

  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yellowbook.com
  • Superpages.com
  • Advertising.brightpages.com

Newspaper and Newsletter Advertising

Another excellent way to advertise your business is in your local newspaper. They offer box ads and advertising inserts. Some local newspapers will offer you special advertising to feature your local business. You will likely find discounts for agreeing to list your ad for multiple weeks or months as well.

If you have a new small business, do not neglect to put out a press release. These are usually free of charge, and it will introduce your business to the community. Check with your local newspaper for rates on press releases and any specials they may be running.

There are also lower cost newspapers, sometimes called Pennysavers that you can advertise in as well. These types of newspapers do not offer quite the exposure of metropolitan papers, but they are still quite effective, especially if you are a local business interested only in local customers.

Special interest newspapers can provide you with a target market as well. For instance, if you are selling medical equipment, a hospital newspaper or newsletter could be a good choice for you to advertise your business. Also check out rates on special interest websites that allow advertisers for their online newsletters.

Tip: Repetition advertising is very important. One-shot ads just don’t work very well.

Advertising through Direct Mail

Direct Mail is another option. There are a few places you can purchase mailing lists targeted to your market. If done properly, it can be very effective. You can mail promotional materials like “10% off” coupons, buy one get one free coupons, etc. Talk with your local postal office to get rates for Direct Mail, and the United States Postal Service website offers many great ideas for making Direct Mail a success.

Offering Promotions

Any time you send out an invoice, thank you card, or any other type of correspondence, put advertisement inside. Get customers coming back as well as new customers. Have them bring a friend for a discount. Put in discount coupons.

Do something a little extra for your existing customers. Give away little freebies. Customers really appreciate that, and will keep coming back. For example, you can set a bowl of candy at the checkout counter. If you sell artwork or do framing, give your customer a picture hanger for coming in or using your services.

Other Ideas

  • Hand out business cards.
  • Join a business organization in your area like your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Vehicle advertising with large magnets.
  • Magazines and Ezines
  • Booths at trade shows

There are literally hundreds of ways to advertise your small business effectively, and within your budget. See what other small businesses are doing as well. And, never, never stop advertising. “Out of sight, out of mind” can kill your small business in a matter of time. Don’t let this happen to you.

Pat Mackaronis Presents Small Business Budget: Understanding the Financial Structure of a Venture

Small Business Budget

The following is a guest post to EB Band from Pat Mackaronis. Pat is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, he dives into small business budgets, and how to properly understand the financial structures of business ventures.

Tally up these figures carefully. Put the sum in the plus column. Now add in any other income connected with the business for the month. Remember, the object is to stay ahead of expenses. Precisely, expenses should not exceed your monthly income. A plus figure should remain at the end of each month. Use this money to invest back into your small or home business.

Expenses

Now list all the expected fixed expenses for the month. These are the expenses that are regularly paid each and every month. These are not the luxuries or impulse items you might buy like an executive size desk chair or over priced office furniture or expensive art work. Fixed income expenditures might include your taxes, mortgages, insurance, payroll, car lease, furniture lease, equipment lease, advertising, marketing, office supplies.

Now tally up expenses. Place expenses in catagories. Such as debts, payroll, overhead, advertising, marketing, equipment. Look for spending patterns. Where is the money going? Is the overhead out of control. Majority of business money going to payroll? Spending too much on leasing equipment? Office supplies? Too much on travel expenses, even business lunches? Are the expenses more than inocme? Less than income? Use the findings to learn where the money drain is spiraling out of control.

For example, if the monthly small/home business income is $5,000 and total expenditures are $6,000, a financial problem exist. A problem that requires immediate action before the business is over it’s head in financial trouble. The business will never realize a profit until this problem is resolved.

Budgeting Strategies

When budgetingo save or invest back into your business remember you don’t always have to cut out an expenditure all together. Experts suggest trimming back to cure the financial drain. For example, Instead of hiring two full time staff members, hire one part time helper. Or instead of purchasing the most expensive supplies check out the local discount office supply stores. Exaimine the advertising budget. Perhaps this is where the money drain is strongest. For example spending $500 per month on advertising might be too much for any new home business budget. Find free advertising methods like word of mouth, or handing out flyers, business cards, brochures, writing a press release. Or place small ads in local publications instead of expensive ads in larger newspapers or magazines.

Predicting Expenditures

Use these findings to predict expenditures throughout the week, month, or even year. Of course this depends heavily on the business. If the business is seasonal. For example, around the holidays Business Owner X’s catering business explodes but is slow the rest of the year. Or Business Owner Y’s landscaping business best profits are during the spring, summer, and fall. Profits drop dramatically during the winter. The business owners should review and adjust the numbers taking into account these seasonal fluctuations.

Finally, Business owners should always seek professional help from financial advisors before major problems arise. Also check out the SBA website for more free information on planning a budget for any home based or small business.

Exit Strategies for Small Business: Have a Plan: Learn How to Exit Your Business in Style

Strategies for Small Business

Many of the world’s Baby Boomer entrepreneurs are approaching retirement. According to business brokerage Tabak, 40 percent of business owners aged 50-60 will be looking to sell within the next five to 10 years. Amazingly, very few of these individuals have any formal plans to get out of their business.

Most business owners have a vague idea of how they would like the relationship with their business to end. Many dream of heading up the company until retirement age before riding off into the sunset to enjoy the fruits of their labour. However, the prospect of other more complex and unexpected situations has to be taken into consideration. Ill health, divorce or the death or departure of a business partner may all necessitate the sale of a business.

Why You Should Have Your Exit Plan in Place as Early as Possible

Whatever the reason for selling, it is vital that business owners have a solid exit or succession plan in place well before the prospect of a sale is anywhere near the table.

Bruce Taylor, a director at Advantage Business, a New Zealand-based business advisory group comments:

“Business owners should be planning an exit strategy as soon as they have set up their business. It should be a part of the initial business plan. Unfortunately, not many small business owners actually do this.”

According to Bruce, planning an exit strategy in advance means that business owners can be prepared for any eventuality. They can be flexible and take advantage of any golden purchase opportunities that may arise.

Choices, Choices, Choices: Why Selling Up Doesn’t Have to Mean Getting Out Entirely

Bruce also revealed that there are a lot more choices for business owners than may be apparent initially. For instance, it may not even be necessary for a retiring business owner to give up their company entirely.

“Most business owners assume that they will have to sell the company. Once they have gone through the options with a business consultant they realise that there are many different possibilities and avenues to go down.

These options might include: hiring a manager and staying on at a director level, bringing in an active investor partner, selling parts of the business to key staff or getting family members involved.”

Get Top Dollar for Your SME

If you do decide that selling is the only option there are a number of things that you can do to make sure that you get the best price for your company.

“Preparation is the key to getting the best price for your business,” advises Bruce. “Prepare your business very carefully. Make sure that all the requirements are in place and that you have access to all the information that a buyer might need. Amongst other things, you will need a business overview, information on the marketplace and market potential, your advertising and marketing plan, any legal information, your financial history and insurance information. All of these details should be presented in a tidy and easily accessible format.”

The key to devising an effective exit strategy is a great deal of planning and an awareness of all possible scenarios. If you are thinking of selling your business in the next few years make sure that you are organised and prepared for any eventuality. Regularly monitor the market and the health of your business to ensure that you are in the best position possible should you decide to sell. If you follow this advice then you will be able to ride off into the sunset content in the knowledge that you made the right choices and achieved the best possible end result for both you and your business.