Small Business Marketing Do’s and Don’ts: Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Advertising Dollar

By Scott Vollero

As a small-business owner, you have to spend money wisely and get the most out of every dollar. Marketing your small business is an area you have to spend money on, but it’s also a potential money pit if you’re not careful.

Sure, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t through trial and error, but who has extra money to spend on “maybes?” Wouldn’t it be great to skip over the trial and error part and jump right into the getting a return on your advertising dollar part?

Here are proven do’s and don’ts to help you cut the risks and market wisely.

Do Know Your Target Customer

Face it, not everyone needs your product or service. Your target customer is a precise group of people or businesses. Identify your target audience by defining who needs and is most likely to buy what you’re selling. Focus all of your advertising campaigns toward that group.

Don’t Overdo Promotional Pricing

The temptation is strong. Offer amazing deals that can’t be refused and get lots of customers all at once — it’s a great strategy, right? Well.. not so much.

A customer’s perception of the quality of your services and products is directly related to how much you charge. If you price your service too low, even customers who take advantage of the offer will wonder why you’d sell yourself short. That’s not to say you can’t have a sale or offer a promotional discount — you can. But, don’t go so cheap that nagging doubts about quality creep in.

Do Research Your Competitors

Research everything about your competitors — how much they charge, perks they offer and methods they use to appeal to the customer. Figure out what makes your business different and how you can take advantage of your strengths. Feature how you’re different and why you’re better in your advertising.

Don’t Expand to Other Markets Before Exhausting Opportunities in Your Current Base

It’s much more cost-effective to keep your current customer base happy, resell to that group and offer add-ons to current customers than expand to other markets. Exhaust every opportunity within your current base before expanding.

Do Make Sure You’re Different from the Rest

In a competitive world, your small business has to do something better to succeed. If after researching your competitors you find very little difference in what you offer, resist the urge to lower prices to attract customers. Instead, figure out a way to offer customers more and better or fill a niche need that’s not being addressed. And then market the heck out of the difference.

Don’t Confuse Customers

One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is building a solid online reputation. If you’re looking for a way to build confidence, don’t confuse customers. Use consistent branding throughout your online channels from website to Facebook — the same logo, the same company colors.

“Market your products appropriately and in a manner that befits
your company image.” —Scott Vollero


For example, if you sell a toy for children ages 3-5, you wouldn’t put a bikini-clad woman on the packaging, would you? Of course not. People would wonder exactly what kind of toy you’re selling. Don’t make them guess by sending mixed messages.

Do Deliver on Your Promises

If you promise anything in your advertising, from a product warranty to a problem solution, be ready to deliver on that promise. If customers feel slighted, you can count on them spreading the word. Word-of-mouth advertising is often the best kind, but word-of-mouth complaints can do tremendous damage. Of course, there will be times when nothing you do pleases a customer. That’s part of doing business. But if you build a solid reputation of standing behind your promises, you can overcome one or two complaints.

Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.