Advertising on a Budget -- Part 2: Thinking Small

This is the second article of a three-part series. I'm illustrating the marketing challenges of a small business, PrescottWeddings.com.

Our goal was to both build the PWC brand and drive traffic to the Web site. Advertising regularly was essential. Yet it was also essential to keep our costs down. So we leveraged our monthly newspaper advertising to stretch our marketing dollar as far as we could.

How did we do that? We "thought small."

We bought one inch by two column inch ads (a column inch in this particular publication is approx. 1.88 inches). The ads were one inch high and almost 4 inches long.

To reflect the small ad, the copy also had to be short and sweet. Like so:

www.PrescottWeddings.com. Everything you need to say "I do."

Just the name of the business and the slogan.

We put the name in large type and made the tagline much smaller.

Did it work?

The first day this ad ran, we garnered 350 hits on the Web site and several phone calls from business owners who wanted more information.

And that was just the beginning. Hits steadily grew during the campaign, and every time it ran we always noticed a jump.

Not bad for a little ad.

Conventional wisdom says bigger is better. And while it is true that big ads stand out (after all, they do take a big chunk of real estate on the page) it doesn't mean big is the only way to go. Small ads can pack a punch too.

Why did the PWC ad work? First of all, it got noticed because it stuck out (yes, small ads can stick out). It had an odd shape -- long and thin, not a square like so many other ads. The name was big -- bigger than many other fonts surrounding it. (But not so big that the ad lacked sufficient white space.)

But probably the biggest reason it worked was because the message was simple. This is clearly a Web site about having a wedding in the Prescott area. Therefore if you're involved with weddings, whether as a business or on a more personal level, and you're also associated with Prescott, then this is a Web site clearly worth taking a peek at.

People instantly got the message. And they got it even if they only scanned the paper. It was quick and painless for them -- something all ads should strive to be.

What's also interesting is how this ad hit its target market. I've spoken to people (mostly men) who have no interest in getting married and have never seen the ad even though they read the paper. Conversely, businesses in the wedding industry and brides have said they see the ad all the time.

Now, you may have a business name that doesn't capture your business' products or services as well as PrescottWeddings.com (my business name for example). In this case, why not think of a catchy tag line you can use in those small ads to drive people to your Web site?

Web sites can be huge, wordy, information-stuffed selling tools. So use short, sweet one-message statement to get people to go look and learn more about your business rather than try to shove everything in an ad. Don't forget to include your business name and logo for branding purposes.

Okay, so small ads with one simple message work. For the final key in PWC's marketing program, check out Part 3: Frequency, frequency, frequency.

Michele Pariza Wacek owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity agency. She offers two free e-newsletters that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at http://www.writingusa.com

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