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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Media advertising

The key to writing a successful ad is knowing your audience and understanding what will motivate them to buy. You should already know what makes your target market tick before you even consider writing an advertisement. You also need to be clear on what you can offer them and what you are trying to achieve.

There's nothing to stop you writing the advertisement yourself. However, if you are struggling to come up with the right words, you could hire a freelance copywriter or an advertising agency.

Grabbing attention with your advert

Clarity is key. Focus on a single, clear message and use the headline, an illustration or both to grab the reader's attention.

The simple approach is usually best. A successful headline might highlight the key benefit your product offers, or arouse the interest of your target audience. Look through the ads in the publications you are planning to advertise in to give you a good idea of what works and what doesn't.

Any online advertising copy must include the keywords and phrases that people are most likely to use when searching for a business like yours.

Building the body copy

Once you've got the reader's attention, the body copy adds more information. Again, the key is to concentrate on what your target reader is interested in and what you are trying to achieve.

Big brands sometimes produce ads with no body copy at all: the illustration along with their brand name is enough to convey the image they are after. At the other end of the scale, ads in specialist magazines may include more extensive details.

Straightforward, punchy writing works best. Keep sentences short.

If in doubt, leave it out. Don't be afraid of having plenty of white space in your advertisement.

Your call to action

Make sure you have given the reader all the information they need to take the next step. It's essential to make it easy for them to do what you want them to do. So make sure you give simple, clear directions, include your contact details, and consider encouraging quick action by including a deadline.

Checking your ad

Once you've drafted your ad, leave it overnight before you read it through. If you can, get the ad properly laid out before you check it.

Then put yourself in the shoes of one of your target customers and have a look at the ad:

  • Does it grab your attention?
  • Would it stand out from other ads in the publication?
  • Does it make a strong promise that you can keep?
  • Would it encourage YOU to respond?

Finally, test the ad on customers and suppliers before you use it in the media.