What's the best way to advertise within a downtown area?

By Pattie Simone

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I am the owner of a landscaping company in the Dallas, TX area and due to the increase in town-homes, condominiums and high-rise units, our company has expanded. We are now offering small space landscaping (urban landscape) as one of our services. We design, install and maintain their landscaping if desired.
There are several great and very cost effective options you can look into that have worked very well for my clients. They are (in no particular order) blown-in inserts in your weekly paper, direct mail, fliers, train or bus ads, a brochure, a promo card given out at area networking venues and email.

An important note: Before you embark on any campaign, you need a professionally designed logo, with unique colors and style guidelines that distinguishes your firm from the rest of the pack (your brand). Work with a graphic designer and copy writer to produce strong, visually attractive tools that consistently showcase your brand with the right messaging and you're already leagues above many of your competitors!

Everything should have an offer (a special discount or a freebie with purchase of a certain service) with a deadline (60 days works best).

Target your direct mail piece (which should be a 6 x 9 digitally printed color postcard to help it stand out in the mail pile) to "x" amount of residential prospects within each zip code. I'd say you'd want to do a minimum of 2,500 pieces to start. Follow up that mailing with an ad of the same offer in your local paper a few weeks later. Again, if your paper has the capability to do blown-in inserts, take this option. Mark both campaigns with a different response code so you can track the response rate of each piece.

If you have a more robust budget and a rail or bus system with good ridership numbers, check out that option too, as the rates can be surprising affordable with specials on certain lines and times of year for a month's worth of exposure to thousands of eyes.

Post professionally designed fliers (with a coupon/offer/deadline and special discount code) in area delis, pizzerias, bagel shops and dry cleaners as they are high traffic venues.

Get out to as many networking meetings as you can, handing out a special "slim card" promo (something that will easily fit in a purse or pocket, again with a unique discount code so you can track its effectiveness). Get business cards at each function you're at and ask if you can send them a special discount offer via email. Then send it within 2-3 days at most after you've met that lead. Send an HTML rich coupon (something your graphic designer can make up for you, that matches your unique brand) as that will help boost your response rate.

Ask around as to which radio stations your new contacts listen to, and check out the rates during high traffic computing times for a 15 second spot.

There is so much a service business like yours can do to strategically leverage each action so drop me an email if you'd like to find out about more results-oriented options. Best of luck!
Pattie Simone

Digital Adventurer, Profit Alchemist, Entrepreneur

As president of Pomona, N.Y.-based marketing-advantage and founder of WomenCentric, Pattie Simone empowers ambitious companies, individuals and entrepreneurs, helping them to develop strategic, integrated, well-branded communications that engage diverse audiences and fuel sales.

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