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June 13, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Greg Jordan, Wyoming Entrepreneur SBDC, MRC and PTAC associate state director
“Do I need more marketing/advertising for my small business?” Alex, Laramie
How much advertising is enough really is a tricky question. What you might really be asking is, “How do I get more sales?”
It is natural to assume that means spending more to get more. But without having more information, you really can’t answer that question. Simply throwing money at advertising is not always the right answer.
First, look at how many customers are coming in, landing on your website or calling to make inquiries. Then, look at how many of those are buying. It might be that your conversion rate is not very good. That can be fixed without spending a lot of money. You can make sure they are getting the right information, that your salespeople are treating them right or that you are remembering to ask for the sale.
A good example: Instead of asking “Can I help you?” -- which often automatically is answered “no” or “just looking” -- try asking if they heard about the sale you are having or if they would like more information about this product compared to the other. Encourage your salespeople to be curious and find out how they can help and not just ask if they can help.
If you decide that your conversion rate is good, then maybe you do need to get more customers through advertising. But, before you spend the money, again think about where you want to target your advertising. Do you get repeat customers? Are you getting enough repeat customers?
Sometimes, the easiest way to get more sales without spending much money is to go back to the people who already like your goods or services enough to have paid once. Offer them a great loyalty deal or simply ask if they are ready for more. Repeat customers do not take much coaxing (advertising dollars) to come back, especially if they had a good experience the first time.
Finally, if you really do need more new customers to come in the door or land on your website, then more advertising might be the answer. Look at where your customers already have learned about you, and see about targeting there. Advertising is just too expensive to spread it around without a really good idea of who you are looking to get as a new customer.
More than likely, you want more people who are like your current customers. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they read and listen to, or how they were influenced by advertising. If you know where your current customers get their information, then you can really target your advertising dollar to make the most impact.
If you need help with these ideas, a Wyoming Entrepreneur SBDC adviser can work with you to identify your market and show you the resources to boost those numbers. Contact information is available below.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.