Advertising Questions for Small Business Marketing

Advertising is everything for a business. Especially a small one. It’s basically the only way to get your business noticed by your target market and beyond (if you play smart). But how do you know the resources you put in your promo campaign are paying off? If you honestly evaluate your small business advertising using the five questions in this article you will find out a lot about your advertising.

One of two things will happen:

You’ll discover that your advertising provides compelling and powerful answers to each and every question. If so, congratulations—you’re in the top 1% of all small business advertisers, and you’re achieving amazing results from your advertising.

OR

You’ll find that your advertising is totally focused on the wrong person. It’s focused on you or your business instead of on the perfect client in your target market. If this is you, don’t feel too badly—99% of all small businesses fall into this category. Their advertising isn’t very effective and earns, at best, a small “fair share” of available business. And it only gets that much because the competition’s advertising is equally horrible.

Source: LYFE Marketing

Let us stress one very important point before you continue: do not make this an intellectual exercise.

Think of the image of the perfect client. Then physically pull out your advertisements, sit down, and answer the following five questions as if your perfect client were asking them. These questions will make demands upon your advertising that are very different from traditional advertising. Answering may seem strange at first, but stick with it. If your current advertising doesn’t provide compelling answers, start to think about how you could change it so that it does.

Small Business Advertising Questions #1: “Why Are You Bothering Me?”

FACT: Advertising is an interruption. So make it worth the time of anyone who comes across it. Here’s a thing. The “interrupted” probably won’t just scroll by if you put your advertisement where it should be. And where should it be? Wherever your target market hangs out.

For instance, if your business operates mainly in a local area within the fashion niche, local Instagram is where you should pour all your resources into. Your target market is in there. The second platform should be relevant Facebook groups. Bigger, better. One of the principle strategies is to distribute your advertisement in a way that makes it accessible to whoever your prime target market is.

To continue with our example, that would be making it available in at least two languages. English is a must, it’s a world language. But because you operate locally, if people speak different language from English, make it the main language of your advertisement. When collaborating with influencers or celebrities, choose whoever is relevant LOCALLY. That person will have more influence than a global star.

Now let’s go back to interrupting people.

Keep in mind:

Your ideal clients didn’t wake up this morning, get out of bed, and proclaim, “Wow, I sure hope someone advertises to me today.” The real world simply doesn’t work that way.

Your ideal clients, however, did get out of bed with business problems, goals, and other things that are important to them. If your advertising doesn’t grab their attention with a compelling reason that’s important to them (not you, but them), it will be thrown in the trash or just ignored.

If you don’t know what’s on your ideal client’s mind, you have no business putting together an advertisement … yet. How do you do this? Simply, by getting the relevant data of your target market through market research. Filter the data and make what’s left the basis of your promo campaign. Monitor how well it works.

Go back to market research, and learn more about your target market. The research and understanding are key to generating responses to your advertising.

Small Business Advertising Questions #2: “What Does It Have to Do with Me?”

advertising questions
Photo by Charles Deluvio

After you capture your clients’ attention, you must get their interest. The main mistake most marketers and businesses do here is to create a clickbait effect. You don’t just have to get them notice you. They have to actually engage with your business. It’s like saying someone has read the book when they have only seen the title by accident.

Have you not noticed how many people complain about famous YouTubers gaining thousands of views by creating a clickbait title and thumbnail? You may ask “how is that bad if they gain the views?” It’s bad because that’s a negative marketing. One video will not last you a lifetime (your entire career).

They won’t be coming back if your your video resembles one of those “5 Products To Avoid If You Want To Lose Belly Fat” videos on the internet. You click and wait a solid eight minutes of intro of someone talking about obvious things everybody knows even if they are not particularly interested in health and fitness. And then at the very end you find out it’s actually a diet pill advertisement.

Let us give you one more example:

Every once in a while, an advertisement will run in the Wall Street Journal with a huge, bold headline that simply says: SEX!

Does it get people’s attention? Sure. As the famous saying goes: “Sex sells.” But the next line is, “Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about my worn-out, dusty shoes.” Well, unless you’re interested in worn-out, dusty shoes, your interest in the advertisement stops right there and you move onto the next page.

So you see, once you grab their attention, you must get them interested immediately! You can do this by telling them what the advertisement’s information has to do with the things they consider to be important. Again, this is about what they consider to be important, not what you consider to be important.

A tried-and-true way to capture interest is to state the biggest possible benefit or promise you’re able to make to your target market. If you know your market well, this is a sure-fire way to keep prospective clients reading.

Small Business Advertising Questions #3: “Why Should I Believe You?”

gray and brown stones on gray ground
Photo by Ana Municio

Prove it! Now does this not sound simple? The product or service that you are advertising should be the enough proof right? Well, of course. But also, how would they know if for instance, a hair product does actually stop hair from falling out if they don’t purchase and try it first.

Meaning, what you have to prove is that your product is worth buying and people should buy it FROM YOU. And not from your competitors.

Decision makers default to skepticism, not belief, about your claims. If you don’t give your prospects powerful and compelling reasons to believe what you claim in your advertising, they won’t be purchasing.

It’s your job to provide the proof they need to believe what you’re communicating. If your advertising doesn’t provide proof, get to work and add it in.

But how do you actually do this?

There are several ways to make people believe what you want them to believe as a business. But the two are especially efficient: reviews and collaborations. In both, there are people involved. Your target market is also made up of people. People believe others.

Ask feedback from your customers and pin it at the top of your Instagram page for every new doubtful client to see. Collaborate with people or brands that have gained trust already. An influencer known for always offering honest reviews. Perhaps someone who has positively mentioned your product or service without a sponsorship before.

For every promise you make and every benefit you list, ask the question: “Why should I believe you?” Then answer the question using one of the seven methods of adding overwhelming proof to your advertising (the three favorites are testimonials, case studies, and photographs). Or answer the question as if you were sitting in front of a prospect who asked you that very question.

Small Business Advertising Questions #4: “What Should I Do About It?”

silhouette of road signage during golden hour
Photo by Javier Allegue Barros

Call-to-action is almost as important as the advertisement and the product itself. What is it that you want. Selling is an obvious answer. But how should customers reach out to you and buy your product. What do they do to engage with your business past placing a purchase. These are what you should be focusing on here.

Just listing a phone number or website URL isn’t enough. It is amazing to know the number of advertisements to critique that lack a compelling offer and clear directions for how to act on it.

The ways to do this:

  • If you have a website (which you should definitely set up by the way) always list down your contact, including your business email, number and all your socials.
  • Link to your content. When your customers check out one thing, give them the chance to discover something new, but probably related to what they came for.
  • Give them detailed instructions. For instance, when it comes down to shipping and delivery list down the exact locations and approximate times. Give them a notice if a change occurs. As in, whenever you add a new location or times change because of a certain emergency situation (like the pandemic).
  • Give them a notice. Whether it’s a Facebook group announcement, email or an Instagram Story or maybe a post on your website. Let the customers know when something is happening. Could be a giveaway, charity event, special event or a celebration, emergency, website maintenance for few hours. Let them know!

Engage with your customers so that they can engage with your business.

Have you given prospects a specific step to take in order to begin the process of becoming your client? The key word here is “specific.” Tell the prospects exactly what to do, how to do it, and what they’ll get as a result.

Small Business Advertising Questions #5: “Why Should I Do It Right Now?”

advertising questions
Photo by Alexandar Todov

A “cute” theory espoused by many so-called advertising gurus is that decision makers will remember you or your firm when it comes time to take action, even if they don’t take action right away. But “reality” (you know—studies, statistics, and empirical evidence) shows that notion to be utterly false.

We are talking about small businesses here, with no clearly established authoritative and powerful brand image. You are not Fendi, nor are you Coca Cola. People won’t immediately associate the color combination of red and white with your brand. You need to get where big brands are for this to start happening.

But before that, you need to grow your business. Through sales, and contacts, and great advertising, and relevant collaborations. Sales are the end goal in any case.

For that to happen:

If your prospects don’t take the action you want when your message is in front of them, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll come back to it at a later date.

Sure, they might “mean to” take action later. They might file the ad in the pile of things to do, put it on a corkboard, or stick in the pile of “really important” stuff on their desk. But the end result is usually that your message is put aside and forgotten.

Your advertising must give prospects a compelling reason to act immediately. What will they gain if they do? What will they lose if they don’t?

Wrapping It Up

While advertising salespeople like to talk about image, exposure, and awareness, your focus belongs on making sales and on results you can deposit in your bank account. They may miss out on important aspect of what makes an ad actually work. Which is, the customer POV. The key to generating more sells.

These five questions above questions will help you create advertising that appeals to your customers and targets their buying habits. Implementing them as a part of your promotional strategy plan will surely make the advertisement effective and give you the results you are looking for.

Sofia Nikolaishvili
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