This month we’d like to talk about an even more fundamental question: why advertise at all? Especially if you’re a small business, you may think the possible rewards aren’t worth the risk of spending limited resources.


The fact is, advertising can bring you a very nice, and reasonably safe, return on your investment, no matter how big or small your company is. Here’s why.


You can dictate what is said about you and when. Unlike word-of-mouth, an ad says exactly, and only, what you want it to say: why customers should buy from you instead of your competitor. If you are holding a sale, product launch or other special events, an ad will get people in your door at the right time.


You can spend money only on genuine prospects. Selectively putting your ad in front of the right audience ensures optimum response rates. Direct mail is one of the best mediums for doing this because you have total control over the mailing list (unlike Google AdWords, which can cost you in unqualified prospects no matter how carefully you manage your keyword selection).


You can look more legit. Ironically, people think a business that advertises is more credible than one that doesn’t, even though they may take the ad itself with a grain of salt. Maximize your message’s effectiveness by keeping it real and believable, and you’ll build your reputation as well as your customer base.


You can stay ahead of your competition. This is especially necessary if they’re advertising and you’re not. Keep an eye on what they’re doing and be ready to respond with an ad that goes them one better. We’re not saying you have to start a price war; your point of superiority could be product quality, customer service, a gift with purchase, etc.


You can boost the impact of your unpaid marketing efforts. For obvious reasons, small businesses often rely on free/cheap attention-getters such as blogs, Facebook pages, press releases and YouTube videos. Even a small spend on direct mail advertising can hugely increase the traffic to these endeavors, which in turn will lead to more shares, referrals, and conversions.


The Small Business Administration states that an entrepreneur’s advertising budget should be 5% of gross sales. By strategically allocating this budget to your defined market, you can expect to receive significantly more than you give.