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A Short Guide to Advertising

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Some Disadvantages with Newspaper Advertising
How Should I Work with My Newspaper Representative
Buying Newspaper Advertising Space



What Are Some of the Good Things About Radio?
What Are Some Limitations to Radio Advertising?
How Should I Buy Time on the Radio?


Advantages in Television Advertising
Disadvantages in Television Advertising
Creativity: A Vital Element
Don’t Use TV Unless Your Budget Allows
Buying Television Advertising Time
Other Considerations



Advantages of Yellow Pages Advertising
Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Advertising


Some Outdoor Advantages
Some Outdoor Disadvantages


Rules to Remember





A wise man once said, "The person who saves money by not advertising is like the man who stops the clock to save time." In today’s fast-paced, high-tech age, businesses must use some form of advertising to make prospects aware of their products and services.

Even a famous company like Coca-Cola continually spends money on advertising to support recognition of their products. In 1993, Coca-Cola spent more than $150 million to keep its name in the forefront of the public’s eye. So the question isn’t whether or not you can afford to advertise, you simply must if you want your business to succeed.

Some questions you should consider before buying ads are:

1. What media is the best to use?

2. How important is creativity?

3. Is there a way to buy space and time that will stretch my advertising budget?

When it comes to advertising, a lot of people really don’t know what they want, where to get it or what to do with it after they have it. This publication will help you learn to determine what type of advertising media is best for you. It also provides guidelines you can use to obtain the advertising exposure you need and win help you identify ways to make your advertising more cost efficient.

Advertising is an investment in your business’ future. And, like any investment, it’s important to find out as much as you can before you make a decision. You’ll be able to use this publication often as a reliable reference toot in the months and years to come.


Every advertising medium has characteristics that give it natural advantages and limitations. As you look through your newspaper(s), you’ll notice some businesses that advertise regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, their advertising investment is working if it’s selling!

Almost every home in the United States receives a newspaper, either by newsstand or home delivery. Reading the newspaper is a habit for most families. And, there is something for everybody -- sports, comics, crosswords, news, classifieds, etc. You can reach certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of the paper. People expect advertising in the newspaper. In fact, many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the supermarket, movies or department stores.

Unlike advertising on TV and radio, advertising in the newspaper can be examined at your leisure. A newspaper ad can contain details, such as prices and telephone numbers or coupons.

There are many advantages to advertising in the newspaper. From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper advertising can be convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes newspaper advertising offers. Even though you may not have a lot of money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads, without making a sacrifice.

Some Disadvantages with Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the newspaper offers many advantages, but it is not without its inherent disadvantages, such as:

1. Newspapers usually are read once and stay in the house for just a day.

2. The print quality of newspapers isn’t always the best, especially for photographs. So use simple artwork and line drawings for best results.

3. The page size of a newspaper is fairly large and small ads can look minuscule.

4. Your ad must compete with other ads for the reader’s attention.

5. You’re not assured that every person who gets the newspaper will read your ad. They may not read the section you advertised in, or they may simply have skipped the page because they were not interested in e news on it.

How Should I Work with my Newspaper Representative?

Every newspaper has its own sales staff, and you’re normally given a personal newspaper "sales representative." A newspaper sales rep can be very helpful. He or she can keep you posted on special sections or promotions that may apply to your business, but always keep in mind it is the sales rep’s job to sell you advertising.

Your sales rep might say that the newspaper can lay out any of your ads, pre-prepared or not. But these ads are assembly line products and are not often very creative or eye-catching. Consider using an artist or agency for your ads.

In addition, your sales rep can sometimes be instrumental in making sure your story or upcoming an-nouncement "finds" the right reporter because the relationship between the advertising and editorial staff is chummier than most people think, despite claims of total independence.

Buying Newspaper Advertising Space

Since the Expanded Standard Advertising Unit System was adopted back in 1984, it is now easier to buy advertising space in newspapers. Advertising is sold by column and inch, instead of just line rates. You can determine the size ad you want just by looking in the newspaper in which you want to advertise. If you can’t locate an ad that’s the size you want, just measure the columns across and the inches down. For example, an ad that measures 3 columns across and 7 inches down would be a 21-inch ad. If the inch rate is $45.67, your ad will cost $959.07. In case your newspaper is still on the line rate system, remember there are 14 lines to an inch. So, if the line rate is $3.75, multiply it by 14 and you will have the cost of an inch rate. (The rate would be $45.50 an inch.)

Here are some other things to remember:

1. Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on Sundays, which is also the day a newspaper is read most thoroughly.

2. Position is important, so specify in what section you want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for exact position ... but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you need it.

3. Request an outside position for ads that have coupons. That makes them easier to cut out.

4. If a newspaper is delivered twice daily (morning/evening),it often offers "combination" rates or discounts for advertising in both papers. You usually can reach more readers, so this kind of advertising may be something to consider.

Other important tips to remember are:

!  Before you advertise, have in mind a definite plan for what it is you want to sell.

!  Create short, descriptive copy for your ad. Include prices if applicable. Consider using a copywriter or ask your newspaper for free copy assistance.

!  Face your products toward the inside of the ad. If the product you want to use faces right, change your copy layout to the left.

!  Be sure to include your company name and logo, address and telephone number in the ad.

!  Neat, uncluttered and orderly ads encourage readership. Don’t try to crowd everything you can in the layout. If the newspaper helps you with the layout, be sure to request a proof of the final version so you can approve it or make changes before it is printed.

!  Always make sure you are satisfied with what your advertising says and how it looks before it goes to print.


Many of the same "print" principles which apply to newspaper advertising also apply to magazine advertising. The biggest differences are:

!  Magazines are usually weekly or monthly publications instead of daily.

!  Advertising messages are more image-oriented and less price-oriented.

!  The quality of the pictures and paper are superior to newsprint.

!  Advertisements involve color more often.

The general rule that you can run the same ad 3-5 times within a campaign period before its appeal lessens applies to magazine advertising as well, even with a monthly publication. So it makes sense to spend extra time and money to prepare a worthwhile ad that can be successfully repeated.

Over long terms such as these, however, be aware that the client (you) often tires of the ad before the audience does.

Because ads in magazines are not immediate, they take more planning. Often, an ad for a monthly magazine must be prepared at least a month in advance of publication, so ads detailing prices and items must be carefully crafted to ensure accuracy.

Since the quality of the magazines are superior, the advertising that you generate must be superior as well. Negatives are usually required instead of prints or "PMTs" (photo-mechanical transfers). Consider obtaining assistance from a graphic artist or an advertising agency.

There are two categories of magazines: trade magazines and consumer magazines. Trade magazines are publications that go to certain types of businesses, services and industries. Consumer magazines are generally the kind you find on the average newsstand. Investigate which type would do your business the most good.

An agency can also purchase the magazine space for you, often at no charge, because the magazine pays the agency a commission directly. If you wish to purchase the advertising yourself, contact the magazine directly and ask for an "Ad Kit" or "Media Package." They will send you a folder that includes demographic information, reach information, a current rate card and a sample of the publication.

Although most magazines are national in nature, many have regional advertising sections that allow your business to look like it purchased a national ad when it only went to a certain geographical area. This can be especially useful if your product or service is regional in nature as well and could not benefit from the magazine’s complete readership. Each magazine does this differently, so contact the one(s) you are interested in and ask them about their geographic editions. Some sophisticated magazines even have demographic editions available, which might also be advantageous.


Since its inception, radio has become an integral part of American culture. In some way, it touches the lives of almost everyone, every day. Radio, as a medium, offers a form of entertainment that attracts listeners while they are working, traveling, relaxing or doing almost anything. A farmer, for example, may listen to the radio while he is having breakfast or plowing his field. People driving to work often listen to the radio. Radio offers information such as: news, weather reports, traffic conditions, advertising and music for your listening pleasure.

What Are Some of the Good Things About Radio?

Radio is a relatively inexpensive way of reaching people. It has often been called the "theater of the mind" because voices or sounds can be used to create moods or images that, if crested by visual effects, would be impossible to afford.

You can also negotiate rates for your commercials, or even barter. Stations are often looking for prizes they can give away to listeners, so it’s possible to get full commercial credit for the product or service you offer.

Advantages to radio advertising include:

!  The ability to easily change and update scripts are paramount to radio broadcasting, since news stories can and often do happen live.

!  Radio is a personal advertising medium. Station personalities have a good rapport with their listeners. If a radio personality announces your commercial, it’s almost an implied endorsement.

!  Radio is also a way to support your printed advertising. You can say in your commercial, "See our ad in the Sunday Times," which makes your message twice as effective.

What Are Some Limitations to Radio Advertising?

Radio advertising is not without its disadvantages too, such as:

!  You can’t review a radio commercial. Once it plays, it’s gone. If you didn’t catch all the message, you can’t go back and hear it again.

!  Since there are a lot of radio stations, the total listening audience for any one station is just one piece of a much larger whole. That’s why it’s important to know what stations your customers and prospects probably listen to. Moreover, most of the time, you’ll need to buy time on several radio stations to reach the market you seek.

!  People don’t listen to the radio all the time ... only during certain times of day. So, it’s important to know when your customers or prospects are listening. For example, if you want to reach a large portion of your audience by advertising during the morning farm report, you must specify that time period to the radio station when you buy the time.

One of the most popular times to reach people is during "drive time" (from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.). It’s called that because most people are going to or from work during this period, and because most people listen to their radio when they drive. Unfortunately, radio stations know that this is a favorite time to advertise, so commercial costs are much higher during this time.

!  Radio as a broadcasting medium, can effectively sell an image ... or one or two ideas at the most. It is not, however, a detailed medium ... and is a poor place for prices and telephone numbers.

!  Radio listeners increase in the spring and summer, contrary to television audiences which increase in the fall and winter and decrease in the summer. This is ail important aspect to consider when you are choosing advertising media.

How Should I Buy Time on the Radio?

Like a newspaper, each radio station has its own advertising staff. Each wants you to believe that their station is the absolute best buy for your money ... and many will go to great lengths to prove it. But if you’ve done your research, or you are using an advertising agency, you probably have a good idea of the station you want to buy time on and when. If you don’t know which stations you want to use, ask each station for its own research, that is, the type of programming, musical format, geographic reach, number of listeners and station ratings.

By getting the station ratings and the number of people it reaches, you can figure out the cost-per-thousand people (CPM) by simply dividing the cost of a commercial by the thousands of people you are reaching.

the cost-per-thousand people (CPM)

Without getting complicated, here are two cardinal rules for radio advertising:

1. It’s better to advertise when people are listening than when they are not.

2. It’s better to bunch your commercials together than to spread them apart.

A lot of radio sales reps will try to talk you out of advertising during specific times. They’ll offer you a reduced rate called TAP (Total Audience Plan) that splits your advertising time into 1/3 drive, 1/3 mid-day and 1/3 night. This may sound like a good deal, but airing commercials during times when your audience isn’t listening is bad advertising. If however, you are sponsoring a show such as Paul Harvey or the Morning Farm Report, it makes sense to advertise once or twice a day on a regular basis, since those programs have regular listenership. Frequency is a vital element for effective radio advertising.

Since you can’t automatically recall the radio commercial and hear it again, you may hear the same commercial two, four, or maybe six times before the message sinks in. If you missed the address the first time, you consciously or subconsciously are hoping the commercial will be aired again so you can get the information you need. That’s the way radio advertising works. And that’s also the way you buy it.

Most of the time, radio advertising should be bought in chunks. High frequency over a short period of time is much more effective than low frequency over a longer period of time. It’s important for your audience to hear your spot again to get more information out of it. For example, if you wanted a two-week advertising campaign and you could afford 42 radio commercials, the following buy would serve you well: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, place three spots between 7-9 a.m. and four spots between 3-6 p.m. for two weeks. Notice that both day and hour periods are concentrated.

By advertising in concentrated areas in tight day groups, you give the impression of being larger than you really are. And, people hearing your concentrated campaign for two or three days will think you’re on all the time. The radio sales reps may try to sell you three spots every day on the station for 14 days (a total of 42 spots). But your campaign won’t be nearly as effective.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your commercials:

1. If you’re including your address in the commercial, simplify it. Instead of "134525 East Pines," say "at the comer of First & Pines, next to Gumbies." It’s easier to remember.

2. Don’t use phone numbers in your commercial. If you mention your phone number, refer to the Yellow Pages in the local phone book.

3. Radio works better when you combine it with other advertising media.

4. Check out the price differences between 60-second and 30-second commercials. Normally, 30-second commercials are only 1/3 less than 60’s, which makes a 60-second commercial a better buy.

5. Be creative with your radio advertising, too. If it sounds like all the rest of the commercials, it won’t stand out. Your message won’t be heard nearly as well. Advertising agencies are usually quite good at producing creative radio commercials.

If you decide to write your own radio scripts, remember these basic copy writing rules:

!  Get your listener’s attention immediately.

!  Write in conversational style.

!  Avoid using buzz words or jargon.

!  Repeat your important points.

!  Make your ending strong and positive with call-to-action for response.


Television is often called "king" of the advertising media, since a majority of people spend more hours watching TV per day than paying attention to any other medium. It combines the use of sight, color, sound and motion ... and it works. TV has proven its persuasive power in influenc-ing human behavior time and time again. But it’s also the "king" of advertising costs.

Advantages in Television Advertising

Television reaches very large audiences -- audiences that are usually larger than the audience your city’s newspaper reaches. The area that a television station’s broadcast signal covers is called A.D.I., which stands for "Area of Dominant Influence."

Some advantages of television advertising include the following:

1. Advertising on television can give a product or service instant validity and prominence.

2. You can easily reach the audiences you have targeted by advertising on TV. Children can be reached during cartoon programming, farmers during the morning agricultural reports and housewives during the afternoon soap operas. A special documentary on energy sources for heating homes and business will also attract viewers interested in heating alternatives.

3. TV offers the greatest possibility for creative advertising. With a camera, you can take your audience anywhere and show them almost anything.

4. Since there are fewer television stations than radio stations in a given area, each TV audience is divided into much larger segments, which enables you to reach a larger, yet, more diverse audience.

Disadvantages in Television Advertising

Because TV has such a larger ADI, the stations can charge more for commercials based on the larger number of viewers reached. The cost of television commercial time is based on two variables:

1. The number of viewers who watch the program.

2. The time during the day the program airs.

One 30-second television commercial during prime time viewing (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) can cost 10 to 30 times more than one radio spot during drive time (which is considered prime listening time).

While the newspaper may cover the city’s general metropolitan area, TV may cover a good portion of the state where you live. If such a coverage blankets most of your sales territory, TV advertising may be the best advertising alternative for your business.

Producing a commercial is also an important variable to consider. On the whole, television audiences have become more sophisticated and have come to expect quality commercials. A poorly produced commercial could severely limit the effectiveness of your message, and may even create a bad image in your customer’s mind.

Advertising agencies or TV commercial production facilities are the best organizations for creating a commercial that will be effective for the goods or service you are offering. But the cost of a well-produced commercial is often more expensive than people think. Some TV stations will claim they can put together commercials for "almost nothing." Before agreeing to this, find out what "almost nothing" means. Then, determine if the commercial quality and content they are proposing will represent your firm’s image.

Many companies use the station’s commercial production facilities for creating "tag lines" on pre-produced commercials. Often, the station will help you personalize the spot for little or no cost ... if you advertise with them. Remember, more than anything else, when it comes to making a TV commercial, you get what you pay for. And, when you’re buying commercial time for one 30-second TV spot costing from $600 to $1,200, it makes sense to have the best sales presentation possible.

Remember, like radio, the message comes and goes ... and that’s it. The viewer doesn’t see your commercial again unless you buy more placements.

Creativity: A Vital Element

When you advertise on TV, your commercial is not only competing with other commercials, it’s also competing with the other elements in the viewer’s environment as well.

The viewer may choose to get a snack during the commercial break, go to the bathroom or have a conversation about what they just saw on the show they were viewing. Even if your commercial is being aired, viewers may never see it unless it is creative enough to capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to consider the kind of commercial you are going to create ... and how you want your audience to be affected. Spending money on a good commercial in the beginning will pay dividends in the end.

Don’t Use TV Unless Your Budget Allows

Attempting to use TV advertising by using a poorly-produced commercial, buying inexpensive late night commercial time that few people watch or just placing your commercial a couple times on the air will guarantee disappointing results. To obtain positive results from TV advertising you must have enough money in your budget to:

1. Pay for the cost of producing a good TV commercial (today costs range from $2,500 to $20,000, and above).

2. Pay for effective commercial time that will reach your viewer at least 5-7 times.

Properly done, television advertising is the most effective medium there is. But it is big league advertising ... and you shouldn’t attempt it unless you have enough money in your budget to do it right.

If you’re still attracted to TV, it’s a good idea to call in an advertising agency for production and media buying estimates. Then, figure out what sales results you can expect. With such data, you should be able to reach a logical advertising decision.

Buying Television Advertising Time

There are many things to know and consider before buying a TV programming schedule. That’s why, in most cases, using an advertising agency or a media buying service is recommended when advertising on TV. If these services are unavailable, find a TV representative that you can trust. Your agency or representative can help you select the programs you should advertise on in order to reach your market. Also, ask about "fringe" time, adjacencies and package plans.

When you are engineering your schedule, remember that repetition (or frequency) is a very important ingredient to use. Make sure your audience sees your commercial with the context of the programs you’re buying. Ask for a commercial affidavit. Normally, it doesn’t cost any more and the station will provide you with a list of the exact times your commercial was ran.

Other Considerations

For an effective and inexpensive way to get your message on the TV screen, consider using pre-prepared TV commercials that may be available to you through a manufacture or distributor you deal with. You can add your name and logo to the end of the commercial for little or no cost. Look at cooperative advertising too. Many companies offer prepared advertising materials you can use and at the same time may pay for a portion of the advertising schedule.


Cable advertising is a lower cost alternative to advertising on broadcast television. It has many of the same qualities as broadcast television and, in fact, since it offers more programming, it’s even easier to reach a designated audience.

The trouble with cable is that it doesn’t reach everyone in the market area, since the signal is wired rather than broadcast and, also, because not everyone subscribes to cable.

If cable does reach a large part of your market, have an advertising agency investigate its cost or call the cable company’s advertising sales department. Chances are the cable commercial time will be 10 to 20 percent of the costs of regular broadcast time.


Telephone book advertising is another way to reach your market area. It allows you to place your business listing or ad in selected classifications within the book, with the theory being that when people need your product or service, they will look up the classification and contact you.

Much of the "sell" copy for a product or service, therefore, is not needed in your ad content, since the people who have looked up your classification are already in the market to buy. What you must be aware of when you write the ad is the other firms’ ads within your classification. In other words, why should the reader select your firm over your competition? That is the crucial question -- and your ad should provide the answer.

Telephone Yellow Pages salespeople often employ the technique of selling as large an ad as possible to one company, then showing the other companies in the same classification what the one company is doing so that they can match it or beat it. This is not the best criteria for determining ad size, but is definitely good for the ad salesperson.

To determine the size you should use, consider the following:

!  Your ad should be large enough to incorporate the vital information the reader needs to make a contact decision (as mentioned above).

!  Remember your lessons in print advertising. Keep your ad clean, creative and eye-appealing. Even though the phone company will "design your ad for free," some firms employ graphic artists and advertising agencies to create a Yellow Pages ad that really stands out.

!  Give yourself a budget to work with. Figure out how much you want to spend on Yellow Pages advertising for the entire year, then divide it by 12. That will give you the payment that is automatically attached to your phone bill every month.

Do something unique or different. If no one else is using color, use color. Even shades of gray can make an ad look better and more appealing.

Advantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

!  One ad works all year long.

!  Gives your prospect a method of easily locating and contacting your business, even if they didn’t initially know your name.

!  Can help you describe the differences between you and your competition.

!  You pay by the month instead of one large payment.

Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

!  You must commit to an entire year of advertising.

!  You are immediately placed with a group of your competitors, making it easy for the prospect to comparison shop.

!  Some classifications are so cluttered with advertising, your ad is buried and ineffective.

!  It is only effective when a prospect looks you up in the correct classification, assuring the prospect knows what classification to look for in the first place.

If you require more than one classification, your Yellow Pages representative often has packages and programs that can save you some money. In addition, the same is often true if you need to be advertising in more than one city or market.

Yellow Pages advertising is an important medium to consider in our fast-paced, information-hungry society. People really do let their "fingers do the walking" instead of driving around blindly. Make sure your Yellow Pages ad is attractive and informative enough to be the one or two businesses the prospect actually does select to call. And then make sure you have the resources to deal with the inquiry. After all, there is nothing more annoying than being put "on -hold" by a busy receptionist or being served by an uninterested or unknowledgeable employee.


When people think of outdoor advertising, they usually think of the colorful billboards along our streets and highways. Included in the "outdoor" classification, however, are benches, posters, signs and transit advertising (the advertising on buses, subways, taxicabs and trains). They all share similar advertising rules and methods.

Outdoor advertising reaches its audience as an element of the environment. Unlike newspaper, radio or TV, it doesn’t need to be invited into the home. And, it doesn’t provide entertainment to sustain its audience.

Some Outdoor Advantages

!  Since it is in the public domain, outdoor advertising assuredly reaches its audience. People can’t "switch it off" or "throw it out." People are exposed to it whether they like it or not. In this sense, outdoor advertising truly has a "captured audience."

!  It’s messages work on the advertising principle of "frequency." Since most messages stay in the same place for a period of a month or more, people who drive by or walk past see the same message a number of times.

!  Particular locations can be acquired for certain purposes. A billboard located a block in front of your business can direct people to your showroom. Or you can reach rural areas efficiently by placing it billboard in each small town.

!  Outdoor advertising is an excellent adjunct to other types of advertising you are doing. In fact, it is most effective when coupled with other media.

Some Outdoor Disadvantages

!  Outdoor advertising is a glance medium. At best, it only draws 2-3 seconds of a reader’s time.

!  Messages must be brief to fit in that 2-3 second time frame. Ninety-five percent of the time, either the message or the audience is in motion.

!  The nature of the way you buy outdoor advertising (usually a three-month commitment) is not conducive to it very short, week-long campaign.

When you buy outdoor advertising, remember that location is everything. High traffic areas are ideal. A billboard in an undesirable area will do you little good. Keep your message concise (use only five to seven words) and make it creatively appealing to attract readership. Few words, large illustrations (or photos), bold colors and simple backgrounds will create the most effective outdoor advertising messages.


What makes "direct" mail different than regular mail? Nothing. It’s just a way the advertising world describes a promotional message that circumvents traditional media (newspaper, radio, TV) and appeals directly to an individual consumer. Usually through the mail, but other carriers also participate.

Direct mail may be used more than you think. Studies indicate that it is the third largest media expenditure behind television and newspaper.

Rules to Remember

!  Define your audience. Figure out who you want to reach before developing your direct mail program. This allows you to specifically target your message to fit common needs. It is the best advertising medium for "tailoring" your appeal.

!  Locate the right mailing list. You can either build a "house list" by doing the research yourself and compiling the information on a computer -- or you can purchase an "outside list" from a list house or mailing organization already pre-prepared and ready to go.

!  There are many ways to purchase lists. You can buy them demographically (by age, profession, habits or business), or geographically (by location, state and zip code). Or you can buy a list with both qualities. More than likely, there is a mailing list company in your area that would be happy to consult with you on your needs. If not, there are a number of national mailing lists available. On the average, you should pay between 4 to 5 cents a name.

!  For assembly, addressing and mailing your project, you also have the choice of doing it yourself or locating a mailing service company to do it for you. As the numbers of your direct mail pieces increase, the more practical it is for you to enlist such an organization for assistance. They also are very good at getting you the lowest postal rates.

!  Consider using a self-addressed reply card or envelope to strengthen returns. Use a Business Reply Postage Number on the envelope and you’ll pay only for the cards which are returned to you.

The blessing (or curse) of direct mail is that there are no set rules for form or content. The task of deciding what your mailing should have as content, its design and its message(s) is up to you. However, remember to attract the reader’s attention with color and creativity. Use clear, comfortable writing and make your appeal easy to respond.

And, of course, coordinate the mailing with other advertising media if you are also using them in the same campaign. It can significantly increase the potential return.


"Giveaways" -- the pencils, pens, buttons, calendars and refrigerator magnets you see everyday -- are called "specialty advertising" in the trade.

Chances are, you have some specialty advertising items right at your desk. Businesses imprint their name on items and give them away (or sometimes sell them at very low cost) in order that:

!  You notice their name enough times on the item to build "top-of-the-mind" awareness, so when you need a restaurant, for instance, you think of their name first.

!  You appreciate the goodwill of the company giving you the item and eventually return the favor by giving them some business.

These are both long-term advertising investments that can take months or years to turn into actual sales.

First, select the best item that will tell your story most effectively. While an accountant can give away an inexpensive calculator, the same item may not be ideal for a hairdresser. A comb or brush might be more appropriate in that case.

Second, decide what you are going to say on the item. A company slogan? Address directions? Since you have a relatively small area, you must be very concise and direct.

Third, figure out your method of distribution. Are you going to send them to each customer through the mail? If so, how much will that cost? Will you have them in a big bowl that says "take one"? Distribution is just as important to consider as buying the item.

Just as there are many reputable specialty advertising professionals in your area, the industry is notorious with a lot of high-pressure telephone and mail solicitors who often give specialty advertising a bad name. Don’t buy specialty advertising through the mail without checking the quality and prices with trusted local representatives first. And, buying specialty advertising over the telephone is not recommended at all.

Specialty advertising is a unique way to generate goodwill and put your name on items that people remember. But don’t do it unless you have an item and distribution plan that will benefit your business.


There is no one -- sure-fire -- best way to advertise your product or service. It is important to explore the various advertising media and select those which will most effectively convey your message to your customers in a cost-efficient manner.

Always remember, advertising is an investment in the future of your business.


U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA offers an extensive selection of information on most business management topics, from how to start a business to exporting your products.

SBA has offices throughout the country. Consult the U.S. Government section in your telephone directory for the office nearest you. SBA offers a number of programs and services, including training and educational programs, counseling services, financial programs and contract assistance. Ask about

- SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business, a national organization sponsored by SBA of over 11,000 volunteer business executives who provide free counseling, workshops and seminars to prospective and existing small business people. Free online counseling and training at www.score.org

- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), sponsored by the SBA in partnership with state governments, the educational community and the private sector. They provide assistance, counseling and training to prospective and existing business people.

- Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), sponsored by the SBA in partnership with local non-government organizations across the nation. Centers are geared specifically to provide training for women in finance, management, marketing, procurement and the Internet.

For more information about SBA business development programs and services call the SBA Small Business Answer Desk at 1-800-U-ASK-SBA (827-5722) or visit our website, www.sba.gov

Other U.S. Government Resources

Many publications on business management and other related topics are available from the Government Printing Office (GPO). GPO bookstores are located in 24 major cities and are listed in the Yellow Pages under the bookstore heading. Find a “Catalog of Government Publications at http://catalog.gpo.gov/F

Many federal agencies offer Websites and publications of interest to small businesses. There is a nominal fee for some, but most are free. Below is a selected list of government agencies that provide publications and other services targeted to small businesses. To get their publications, contact the regional offices listed in the telephone directory or write to the addresses below:

Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC)
The CIO offers a consumer information catalog of federal publications.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Publications Request
Washington, DC 20207
The CPSC offers guidelines for product safety requirements.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
The USDA offers publications on selling to the USDA. Publications and programs on entrepreneurship are also available through county extension offices nationwide.

U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
Office of Business Liaison
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
DOC’s Business Liaison Center provides listings of business opportunities available in the federal government. This service also will refer businesses to different programs and services in the DOC and other federal agencies.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1 Choke Cherry Road
Rockville, MD 20857
Helpline: 1-800-workplace. Provides information on Employee Assistance Programs Drug, Alcohol and other Substance Abuse.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Employment Standards Administration
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
The DOL offers publications on compliance with labor laws.

U.S. Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20230
The IRS offers information on tax requirements for small businesses.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Small Business Ombudsman
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20480
Hotline: 1-800-368-5888
The EPA offers more than 100 publications designed to help small businesses understand how they can comply with EPA regulations.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville MD 20857-0001
Hotline: 1-888-463-6332
The FDA offers information on packaging and labeling requirements for food and food-related products.

For More Information

A librarian can help you locate the specific information you need in reference books. Most libraries have a variety of directories, indexes and encyclopedias that cover many business topics. They also have other resources, such as

- Trade association information

Ask the librarian to show you a directory of trade associations. Associations provide a valuable network of resources to their members through publications and services such as newsletters, conferences and seminars.

- Books

Many guidebooks, textbooks and manuals on small business are published annually. To find the names of books not in your local library check Books In Print, a directory of books currently available from publishers.

- Magazine and newspaper articles

Business and professional magazines provide information that is more current than that found in books and textbooks. There are a number of indexes to help you find specific articles in periodicals.

- Internet Search Engines

In addition to books and magazines, many libraries offer free workshops, free access to computers and the Internet, lend skill-building tapes and have catalogues and brochures describing continuing education opportunities.

Published - July 2011

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