There’s no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes, and in business there’s no such thing as free advertising. Even Twitter’s gotten into the paid ad business.
For small businesses, though, marketing expenditures don’t always bring a healthy return on investment.
“No enterprise is immune to advertising mistakes,” said Dan Weinbach, executive vice president with the Weinbach Group, a marketing and public relations firm in Miami. “But the impact these mistakes have on smaller organizations is more severe, as their dollars are limited.”
Weinbach recommends that small businesses think twice before spending money on the following:
- Say "no" to sponsorships — Weinbach notes that most sponsorships — a table at a charity function, a page in a yearbook — stem from tangential circumstances. And he says that’s OK. But “what is the value of that investment? Or how could I spend that money with more impact?
- Congratulatory ads are a waste of time and money — Sometimes a business simply has to note an employee’s achievement or a client’s accomplishment through advertising. Weinbach counsels his clients to make sure the business achieves a marketing goal as it’s achieving the intended political aim.
- Advertising only once — in nearly any media — is useless — One-time promotions stand as a too-common error for small businesses. Weinbach says he hears businesses choose to run an ad one month and “see how it goes.” Those businesses shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t see much traffic. “You need to reach a certain volume and with a certain frequency,” Weinbach said, and that’s when an enterprise sees results.
- Don't print anything until you know how you'll use it — Leaving something with a prospective client — a business card, a brochure — is a long-standing tradition. Weinbach warned companies to understand the purpose of any printed matter, which is expensive, before committing to it. Whatever it is, the item should have a marketing goal.
- “Bah, humbug” on holiday cards — Weinbach urges clients to skip this tradition and focus on the most important clients and prospective clients and get them something relatively substantial.
“You want to be remembered,” Weinbach said.