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Jennifer Farnes: The Dos and Don’ts of Advertising

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Do be friendly to sales reps, don’t fall for cheap ads, and more.


This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of INSTORE.

Advertising is something you must do if you want to grow because no one knows who you are until you tell them. But doing advertising right is not easy. Before opening my own jewelry store, I worked in advertising for over a decade. Here, is my starter “Do & Don’t” list to help those struggling with advertising.

Do set a budget. Advertising can get away from you quickly, just like shopping with a credit card. Lock in an amount you are comfortable with and stick to it. While there isn’t a magic number, the SBA advises that businesses with under $5 million in gross sales (with a 10-12 percent profit margin) spend 7-8 percent of their revenues on marketing.

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Don’t give money to anyone without a contract. Most media outlets have an established protocol and will bring a contract to the first meeting. If your media rep forgets the contract but says they will e-mail you — they still shouldn’t leave with any money from you. If the sale is important, they can always come back for the check with a contract in-hand.

Do advertise to what you know. If you watch the morning news on one channel every day, start there. If you listen to the radio on a particular station when commuting, start there. The best way to attract customers with a mind like yours is to advertise in the media you frequent.

Don’t feel pressured to sign the first contract. If there are questions, be sure to ask and expect complete answers to be provided. If changes need to be made, make notes directly on the original contract and keep a copy.

Do be friendly to everyone who approaches you about advertising. Sales people get shut down every day in a variety of brutal ways. Being the one kind person they talk to in a week will stick in their mind. The next time they have a media sale, they will call you. That can mean big savings in advertising, even if you have never spent money with them before. Even better — that friendly connection can lead to free promotional opportunities and a new client in the form of the advertising rep who walked into your store in the first place!

Don’t take the rates as non-negotiable. In advertising, everything is up for negotiation! It never hurts to ask for better pricing or freebies (traffic sponsorships, weather bugs, web ads). There is always a way to sweeten the deal. Stations are coming to you asking for your money.

Do focus on frequency. If you have $1,000 to spend, don’t buy one commercial in prime-time TV. Buy volume where the price is right. Take your $1,000 and buy two spots a day for one week in your morning drive-time radio, or a few key ads in the local paper every Sunday for a month. The more people hear/see your message in repetition, the better chance your message will sink in.

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Don’t blow your entire budget on broad-rotation commercials because the price is cheap. Money is better spent targeting a single day-part (morning, midday, evening) than being scattered all over the map. Broad-rotation spots should be used only as campaign support to boost frequency.

Do ask for free production. With many media companies, a six-month to one-year contract is standard for the station to be able to offer free production. Your commercial might not win any awards, but the media company will produce a nice spot for you because they want you to come back and buy more.

Don’t let media outlets inundate you with demographics and explanations of their rate card. Everyone can skew a printout to make it look like gold. Lock in on your target demographic and tell the media representative to bring in only information that matches your demographics.

Do ask your customers how they heard about you and track the responses (a simple clipboard with hash marks will do).

Don’t be afraid to walk away. You can always change your mind before you sign a contract.


Jennifer Farnes is the owner and master faceter at Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO.

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