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How to market a small to mid-sized business in today's economy.
Creative marketing solutions for tough times

 Operating a business in today's economy is a challenge. Simply hanging a shingle out will not guarantee that you will bring in customers. Proper marketing and advertising will lead to a steady stream of new and repeat business. All it takes is a bit of planning and an adequate advertising budget.

First you need to define your target audience. such as: age, occupation, income level and social interests. Figure out geographically where your customers will come from. With most small businesses the range will be under 10 miles. Also figure out what your niche in the marketplace is going to be, and what can you do better than any other business in the area.  However, remember to view it from the eyes of a perspective customer. How is doing business with you going to improve their life?

Create a advertising campaign. If your marketing budget isn't large enough to employ the services of professional advertising agency, your success rate will be dependent on your own efforts. With today's technology at your disposal, if you spend a bit of time, effort and money; you can create a basic and effective advertising campaign.

 It is important to hire an experienced graphic designer to create your initial image. Putting forth a professional brand and message is crucial to the success or your campaign. While you might save a little bit of money by attempting this yourself, having professionally designed logos, brochures and ads that have been created specifically for your target market will be far more effective that ones you can produce yourself.

In today's day and age, it is crucial for all businesses to have a functional and easy to use website. If you don't want to spend the money to hire a professional, inexpensive sites such  as and offer easy to use turnkey packages that include website designing templates, hosting, email, social networking and domain names for a minimal monthly fee.

 Next you need to get the word out and get your message in front of your target market. To determine the media combination that will be the most effective, you need to get into the mind of your audience. Find out what ways they get their information; Web, TV, Radio, Newspapers? Do they have any common interests such as sports, hobbies, etc.? Once you determine that, you can place ads in a local and specialty publications, on-line, billboards, tv, cable and radio. Initially, ou can do it yourself, but as your budget increases you might want to hire an experienced advertising agency to place your media. (Most often they offer design services and "PR" as well) Professional agencies can solicit & obtain “deals” for their clients. They know how to negotiate the best media rates and how to stretch advertising dollars as far as possible. And in most cases will save you money in the long run. If the media your ads are placed in is "commissionable" (the media pays the agency a 15% commission for placing your ad) , some agency will reduce or wave design fees.

Another way to get the word out about your business is press releases.  If you have a new and newsworthy product or service, or even if you are just hiring new staff. A news release gets your name in front of perspective and former customers for a minimal amount of money. You can hire a professional copywriter, ad agency or pr firm; or if you are a decent writer, you can do it yourself. Once written, search the local media and send the release to anyone who might possibly be able to print it.  You are reading this on TribLocal.  Posting noewworthy stories here is one of the best and easiest ways to get your story published.  The more often customers see your name, the more they will think about using your business.

 Finally, you constantly need to evaluate and revise your marketing media mix. It's also important to determine where your advertising dollars are working. To determine which advertising vehicles are the most effective, simply ask each new customer how they found out about you? Then redirect the budget from under-performing outlets to the ones that are bringing you customers.  Advertising, done correctly, has the power to drive sales.

 For more information, please contact Barbara Casey at Image Enterprises, Inc.  630-983-3300 or  Image Enterprises is full-service Advertising and Marketing Agency in Naperville with a solid track record of providing results. Image has successfully planned and deployed strategic campaigns for a wide variety of clients for over fifteen years.

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