Local Advertising – The Biggest Mistakes

When it comes to small business marketing and advertising, I am amazed at how many local advertisers squander their money. I wish I had the money they wasted. I’d be a rich man. Absolutesignsolutions.com.au are working hard to offer Australian business cheap, effective advertising with their custom stickers for Sydney area.

Let’s talk about your typical retailer with 1 – 5 locations.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen is that most retailers have no idea of which media to use when running a campaign. In fact, some don’t even know WHY they are running a campaign.

They know they should advertise, but they don’t really know what they are trying to accomplish.

Let’s clarify the TOP 10 obvious reasons you should advertise.

1. You are opening a new business

2. You are closing a business

3. You have a problem selling sufficient quantities of your product or service

4. Your competitor has started a price war

5. You have taken on a new product line or phasing out a product

6. Your business is expanding with new locations

7. You need to renovate but don’t want to lose business

8. Sales are dropping and you need to create a new buzz

9. You are moving your location

10.You want to go public

All these reasons to advertise are born of typical “problems” and Advertising solves problems!

I prefer to see problems as challenges and recommend that mindset for everyone. It makes it more of a positive game and stimulates the problem-solving areas of the brain instead of bringing on the worry & depression when you’re scrambling to generate sales or save a business.

Now. Which media to use?

Let me give you the bigger picture of the Top 5 advertising vehicles.


Need to get a message out fast? Nothing works better than radio!

Radio Pros: This is the sizzle. Hollywood. The Buzz. Entertainment. Excitement. Light my fire. Theatre of the mind. Fast turnaround. With the right production your local burger joint can come across like MacDonald’s. Fairly inexpensive. A “word of mouth” medium that taps into the trusting subconscious that “A friend told me about such & such…”.

Radio Cons: Sausage factory radio spot production and mediocre creative copywriting due to time constraints and poor client communication. Limited inventory of spots means there’s nothing to buy when station is in a sold-out position.


Print is all about details. Not enough time to say it in 30 seconds on radio? Take out a print Ad!

Print Pros: Powerful headlines work. Graphic images can be a powerful selling tool! Lots of room to showcase plenty of inventory. Good target market penetration. Good vehicle for couponing. Color Ads grab the eye. Reader can cut & save Ad or coupon.

Print Cons: Slow turnaround time due to production. Your Ad can end up on the same page as your competition (not recommended if the competition is underselling, but that’s a whole other story!) Print production by the newspaper graphic department offers up less than interesting creative Ad design or punchy layout (because of time constraints). Can be quite expensive in certain markets. Easy to get lost on a page of Ads. Powerful headlines are key but hard to come by unless you hire an outside creative person oe design firm.


How else can you walk into someone’s living room and get them to buy your product while they’re still in their underwear?

TV Pros: Let’s face it. Nothing beats the one-two punch of audio-video. Powerful visuals. Emotionally stirring music or audio sound bites. A dash of sex…intrique…fear…laughter… Yes – your emotions are being assaulted & manipulated by the very best advertisers in the world. And you know what? TV works!

So what if it cost Apple $10,000,000 to sell you 1 ipod? They’ll make it back a hundred times!

TV Cons: Can be very expensive in local markets. Production is key but again, very expensive. Out of reach for many local businesses. That being said, there are TV. package opportunities available during off-season and sometimes end-of-season that are affordable. (I highly recommend you take advantage and get your feet wet with these type of offers).


I have grouped these together because they fall into the category of distribution of printed material. The most telling difference is the way they are distributed. Let’s define each. A flyer is an independent piece of printed material typically distributed by hand and bundled with many other flyers. An Insert is a flyer that is inserted into the local paper for distribution. Direct Mail is a flyer, card or Ad in a sealed envelope that can be specifically targeted to certain city zones, apartments, streets, businesses, high or low income areas etc. As you can imagine, direct mail is the more expensive method but best targeted.

Pros: Flyers are stand alone Ads that thrifty retail shoppers look forward to. The key is, to have an outstanding promotion or offer. Strong creative, pleasing layout and quality paper stock all make a difference as to how you are perceived by the shopper. Shoddy Ads = Shoddy business. (There are exceptions, but that will be discussed in another article.) Flyers allow you to coupon your product or service.

Cons: Flyers rarely deliver a high rate of return. Even when expertly conceived, designed and printed, they can easily get cast into the garbage bin. The key is to pre-promote your flyer in another medium or offer samples. (I’ll cover the powerful effects of combining complimentary media in my next article).


There are many types of billboard services. From huge highway, street-level and bus shelter signage to bus, train, and taxi signage.

Pros: There is an “air” of big time advertising associated with billboards. Great for image building as long as you follow the 7 second rule. (Never say anything on a billboard that takes longer than 7 seconds to register in someone’s brain!). Powerful visuals & headlines are key!

Cons: You pay extra for mass targeting. Can be very expensive. Poor creative can render your efforts invisible. Production can eat up a lot of your budget. Slow turnaround. Key positions are booked sometimes for years in advance.

The biggest question you are probably asking is: What do I do now?

That all depends on what “challenge” your business is presenting.

You need to formulate a plan of action. This is typically called an advertising plan.

You must:

1. come up with an affordable advertising budget

This money should be viewed as an investment

2. create a timeline (how long you need to advertise)

Decide if this is a longer image-building campaign or a short promotional campaign

3. define the nature of your campaign and what you hope to accomplish

Do you want to build up your name or sell a particular product or service?

4. come up with a strong creative campaign

You can play safe and follow everyone else who is successful, or lead with new and aggressive creative

5. select the media (preferably more than one) you can afford

I caution you to avoid a one media campaign. They are very limiting. Whenever possible, use a combination – ie: print/radio, flyer/radio, tv/print, tv/billboard

Once you have done all of the above you are closer to taking your first step. Unfortunately, advertising goes much deeper than this. ie: what kind of Ad offer do I make? What kind of creative do I use? Is my logo strong enough? Is the newspaper Ad big enough? How many spots should I buy on the radio? Color? Black & White? What print stock should I use?

It can be daunting.

The good news is, most media have reliable reps to help you sort it all out. Your job then, may be to separate fact from fiction. The best way to do this is to pick the most knowledgeable rep who understands more than their own product and give them the opportunity to advise you.

You can also hire an independent consultant or a small Advertising Agency to put it all together for you.

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