Whether you spend $3,000 or $300,000 a year on advertising, the challenge is to get the most out of your investment and drive more leads and sales for less money. It’s an endless task. Questions arise such as: What day of the week will provide the greatest impact for my newspaper advertising? What is the best ad size? Should I use inserts rather than display ads?
These are just a few of the issues window coverings business owners must find
answers to. Finding the answers is oftentimes as painful as the questions themselves.
As most of us have learned, everyone we turn to is an expert, each with his own
opinion, leaving us more confused than when we started.
As an advertising executive with one of the largest retail organizations in the
country, I would like to share a number of ideas to help you make the right decisions
for your business and to strip away much of the confusion.
Consumers today have little or no loyalty. They face endless choices in products
and have little time to find the best one for their needs. They look to advertising
to make a purchasing decision. If you are not advertising on a consistent and
frequent basis, building minimal levels of awareness for your products, your
services and your company name, consumers may go to your competitor.
You must create an ongoing, consistent presence that develops name awareness
and recognition. There are only two alternatives. The first is word-of-mouth,
which takes a long time to develop and is limited to a small audience. The second
is to spend the right amount of money on advertising, choose the right medium
and execute your advertising to insure that you grow your own business—profitably.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
Once you have made the decision to advertise you now must decide how much to
spend. For a window coverings retailer this is one of your toughest decisions.
Many view advertising as an expense—a drain of profits. Another way to
view advertising is that it is an investment. By advertising you can grow your
business, contribute to the overall value and profitability of your company.
For a business with sales less than $100,000 the decision is clear-cut: no media,
use only brochures, flyers, door hangers and perhaps minimal yellow page advertising.
Internet Web pages and e-mail can give you big-store credibility, if affordable.
If you are an independent home-based operator with sales ranging from $100,000
to $500,000, you should plan on spending five to eight percent of your sales
on advertising. If you are a larger business with sales in excess of $1 million
with a store location, look to spend four to five percent of your total gross
sales on advertising activities.
WHAT MEDIA SHOULD I USE?
If you have a business that can sustain advertising expenditures greater than
$10,000 per year, begin by avoiding the single biggest mistake: spreading your
advertising dollars too thinly. Avoiding this trap is all about setting priorities
and sticking with them.
Before you consider a second or third media choice, be sure that you have allocated
enough money in any one medium that enables you to make the right impact and
to build the two most important concepts in advertising: awareness and retention.
Start with the yellow pages directories, which can be a high cost, but is essential
to your business. Try to hold expenses down to $30 to $100 per month. Next on
your list should be a Web site, a must have for every business owner. Recent
research shows that over one half of all consumers in the United States will
go to a Web site before making a purchase. The third category is the essentials
in our business: flyers, door hangers, neighborhood mailers. Have money left
over? Go to newspapers as the next logical choice.
Why did I pick newspaper over radio, television or direct mail? Newspaper is
a medium that is read by consumers who have a medium to high income, are heavily
female readers and are in the age group of 35 to 50 years—essentially your
best prospects. It is a logical choice given the high cost of direct mail and
If you are a larger window treatments business, radio is a great complement to
newspaper. The key advantages of this medium are your ability to target your
best prospects, low production costs and high levels of frequency.
In summary, the basic guidelines to follow are deciding whether to advertise,
deciding how much to spend and making the right media choice. To make these critical
decisions so they fit your business:
View advertising as an investment rather than an expense.
If you are a small business owner, plan on spending five to eight percent. If
you are a larger business, with sales in excess of $1 million, plan on spending
in range of four to five percent.
Using the right media is all about setting and sticking to priorities.
Avoid at all costs spreading advertising dollars over too many media choices.
Pick the most important medium or activity; satisfy yourself that you have used
this to your best advantage and then go on to the next choice.
Newspaper is the first logical choice, followed by radio.
Advertising does work and will be a major component of your growth and success.
Follow these guidelines and you will see immediate and positive results.
Steve Wishnow is the former senior vice president for advertising and promotion
at Hecht’s Department Stores. He brings professional retailing experience
managing a $140 million ad budgets to Retail Promotions LLC, founded with the
vision to bring professional advertising to independent window coverings business
owners and to achieve maximum effectiveness for each advertising dollar invested.
Wishnow invites questions about advertising and promotion. Ask for his free bulletin, “Big
Impact on a Small Ad Budget”: Ad.Info@window-promotions.com, or call (301)