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Monday, March 16, 2009

Your $10,000 advertising budget: How should you use it?

Regional publications like Ottawa Renovates are effective because of their focused readership and distribution. You need to be thoughtful about where and how you allocate your advertising dollars.

If you have $10,000 to spend on advertising, where should you allocate your funds for your construction industry marketing? That question naturally invites the response "it depends" but you can still find clues in these observations.
  • If you've spent this money successfully in other media (for example Yellow Pages or newspaper advertising), and the ads have worked for you in the past, continue if the ads are still working. It doesn't matter what the trendy or new thing is, if you have found ads that generate worthwhile results on a cost-per-lead basis, you should not dump them until you have validated and discovered that the new and better way is truly new and better for you.
  • If you haven't advertised in the past, and relied on "word of mouth", consider strategic ideas to enhance/build and increase your referral and word-of mouth-relationships before you rush to spend money on advertising anywhere. In other words, develop campaigns and programs to reach and communicate with your current and previous clients -- perhaps holding client appreciation events/dinners, send them e-letters, and (best of all) improve your direct communication and thank you contact with your clients.
  • You can use this contact/communication, as well, to learn your clients' interests and which media they like/respect. You may wish to allocate some of your funds to advertising in these media outlets.
  • If you haven't already done it, spend at least a few hundred dollars to build an effective website. You can use a variety of inexpensive service providers. We paid just $500, for example, to build the Ottawa Renovates site.
  • If you are just starting out and don't have previous clients or a track record, proceed with exceptional caution, especially in the current environment. You can easily burn your budget with misplaced or misguided advertising expense, and you must be very careful in projecting your cost/value per lead. I assume in starting out you have some contacts/connections with previous clients (and are not subject to non-disclosure/solicitation contract obligations with your former employer), and would look at communicating and connecting with these people first.
Remember, that a $10,000 advertising purchase is a drop in the bucket in a larger market, but could be have significant impact within a small, focused community, niche or market area. Focus your advertising where it will do you the greatest good -- not where advertising salespeople urge you to go. Then you can grow your business to where a $100,000 advertising budget is reasonable, if you wish.


Anonymous said...

The hardest part is when you don't have a track record. You are basically just guessing and relying on trial and error until you find out what works for your industry and area. This will obviously take some time and unless you get lucky will probably not be very efficient.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Agreed, but this is primary a problem for very new businesses. If you have an established client base, you can poll your current/previous clients and see which media they like, respect and respond to.
When you are starting out the challenge is greater -- I tend to favour shoe-leather rather than passive approaches to marketing in the early going; calling people, canvassing (where approrpate) and certain associations may be helpful in building relationships. You will also want to work with family and friends until you have a track record of referrals and insights into the marketplace.