All business owners struggle with advertising to current and potential customers. Both independent retailers and chains need to reach them locally, and it’s a no-brainer to have a website. However, the modes of reaching the public are growing, yet not everyone we know or want to know likes using them!
The Web is an inexpensive way to advertise but requires a lot of attention
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are effective, but only if you consistently grow your “likes” and “followers”. Small business owners do not necessarily have the time or resources to constantly gather information and post online. While the businesses in Charlestown do a good job of reaching out through these channels, there are only so many hours in a day to concentrate on them.
Newsletters are another popular and flexible way to reach customers. Folks seem to like these for the most part, but there is the challenge of all of us getting too much e-mail. Marketing companies like Constant Contact help us to manage our databases. With one click, owners can post the newsletter on Facebook and Twitter and enable forwarding features and archive capabilities. At the same time, consumers can manage how they receive the e-mail; and if it gets to be too much, they can opt out of receiving it all together. Both sender and receiver have some control. Still, while this is a good form of communicating, is it the best?
Snail mail gets customers into the store
The USPS Direct Mail service still gets results! I remember working in New York City in the 1990s for Thomson Media. We used the service consistently and got a good return on our investment. A well written, interesting or fun piece of mail– with an incentive – still brings people to the door.
People also seem to pay more attention to the incentive of a mailed piece versus an e-mailed piece. I recently sent out 1,000 oversized postcards with a 20 percent discount offer. Recipients had to bring in the postcard to receive the discount. I offered the same opportunity to my e-mail list, which includes more than 1,800 people. We had over 300 people bring in the postcard, compared to 40 people who received the e-mail. There was some overlap with contacts, but not a significant one.
Local publications provide advertising options
Advertising in the Charlestown Patriot Bridge, Charlestown Patch and the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce website are all good options. However, it’s expensive to keep up. So here are some tips to do it wisely:
- Think about a small ad in the Patriot Bridge and talk to Sioux about placement, color and “call to action” copy.
- Talk to Kate Gregory at the Patch and discuss the many options for advertising that are quite affordable (thumbnails, links to your site, different sizes monthly).
- Get in touch with Diane Grant or Abby Gray to talk about options on the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce Website and the printed membership directory.