Q: What should I put in my advertising plan if I'm advertising a craft supply store? What topics should I cover? I'm lost, I don't know what to do, and I have to do the advertising myself on a small advertising budget.
A: Once you know what people (demographics) you need to reach, you will need to cover your store name and location; business hours; URL; and, for all mediums besides radio, your phone and fax numbers (unless you have an easily remembered toll-free number that people won't have to write down). With the time left in your 30- or 60- second script, you need to provide information that will entice people to visit your store rather than a competitor's. Do you carry unusual brands or a wider range of brands? Are your prices better? Can you deliver or ship? Are you open longer hours? Do you hold craft fairs on the weekends or give lessons to crafters? Can you offer your location as a meeting place for quilters one evening a week? Advertise the things you can provide that your competitors cannot. That's what will bring you business.
Chances are, you will have one or more really talented media reps at your disposal to help write and produce copy for you. If your budget is really small, you will no doubt start with some form of print, perhaps in a local weekly or daily paper. Use whatever space you can afford, and include a coupon as part of the ad to provide readers with a reason to give it a second look right off the bat. This is a good idea for any kind of business-making your print dollars do "double duty." Make the coupon worthwhile--a 10 percent discount isn't going to make anyone get off the couch--but not so good that you'll attract people who will only come in for that one good deal and never return. Restaurants that run "buy one, get one free" dinner ads often see customers that one time and never again. And put an end date on the coupon so that it will expire within a short period of time (perhaps a few weeks or at the end of the month).
Get your message out properly with Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads: Tools and Techniques for Profitable Persuasion by Roy H. Williams.
As far as buying media, ask some of your media reps for names of small ad agencies that will buy media on a commission basis. That way, it won't cost any more, but you'll have someone with experience negotiating rates and placing your ad dollars correctly for you. A word of caution: Newspapers don't recognize ad agencies, so if you're only doing print, you will have to pay the 15 percent agency fee, but that's better than losing 100 percent by placing your ad in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I would highly recommend an adult education class. Call your local SBA office or community college, and ask if they have offer any classes on media-buying.
Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy via her website at www.silentpartneradvertising.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.