There’s two ways to look at advertising. You can look at advertising as an expense, or you can look at advertising as an investment in your future. And if you look at advertising as an investment in your future, you are creating the image that is going to either make or break your business.
The first years of your business the most important thing to invest in is getting your name known. Once you are the name they know, you know, you can then cut back on your advertising because you’ve got a momentum built up.

Know Your Target Market

If you know who you are trying to reach, and you know the type of magazines or newspapers or what channels of TV they watch, and things of that sort, that is going to be critical, I think, for your business to work.

To identify your good target market is a mix of several things. It’s a gut feeling, first, okay, because you are coming up with a product you think people are going to need. The second thing you need to do is look at, okay, if this is what people need, who are the people that typically would buy that. Okay, in our case, they are people that care for their home, and they want to protect it or make it look better, in that area. So we start looking at who are people that have that kind of money, to invest in their home, to keep it looking nice or make it better. So that quickly starts moving you to certain levels of income, you do have to do some research, some marketing research, as to looking at who are the people that have enough money to spend to make houses look better and all that, that kind of target. Part of our mistakes in learning how to market correctly is that we initially were trying to leverage one hand to tell everything we did.

How to Have a Focused Ad Campaign

So we were trying to advertise to the world that we’re here to sell concrete. And concrete is something they want in garages, basements and driveways. And sidewalks. You find concrete every place. Well, it’s very hard in a small segment radio ad, to explain that to the rest of the world. So the result of poor advertising came out to be that we got a lot of calls from all kinds of people that had problems that we could not address. Now, the magazine ad worked very well because we were able to focus it into one sure thing and that’s driveways. We said let’s take driveways, let’s take a nice picture of a driveway that you have done service, and let’s highlight maybe six points of that driveway, what the benefits are, and that’s what that was—very simple and focused and to-the-point, customers could read it, they understood what we did, and we started getting phone calls.

You can’t go out there and advertise for two weeks and go “Oh, the phone never rang, I quit.” You have to make a commitment to it. Even if it’s a minor commitment, say for example you decide to do a thousand dollars a month on TV. As long as you have a really good rep who is going to put you in a spot pretty consistently, and then do it consistently for two or three months, you’ll begin to see results. We signed our biggest contract a month and a half ago because of an ad on the TV. It was with a school district—we did 76,000 square feet of concrete for this school district, and I just talked to the guy today from the school district and he said, “I want you to know, your TV ad is so effective, that’s the reason you got our contract.” So I really believe that the TV has been our greatest success story.

One of the things I should have done earlier would be advertise on TV. Probably as soon as we advertised in a magazine we should have started advertising on TV. We wanted to position our company as a large company, not just as a one-man start-up shop in that area. Because the perception of the customer it’s the confidence factor and the dollars you can ask for your company are based on what the consumer feels you are worth. If the consumer has a good comfortable feeling, he thinks that you are a large corporation or a large company, they are willing to pay a higher price for your services. If they think that you are a one-man shop and you do everything, then they consider that there’s only a certain price a month that they would be willing to pay for you for that. TV does things for you. Advertising on TV does two things: TV brings credibility that you are a large company, because everybody in the world perceives that TV is very expensive, so if you’re on TV, you’re a big company, automatically. It’s an assumption that people make, and that brought a lot of credibility in that area. The magazine also brought credibility because we were doing very nice ads in the magazine, and it brought credibility that we were a high quality company doing the work.

We doubled our business when we started advertising in the magazine, and we are going to double if not triple, with the television advertising. It just opens opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. People come to our trade show now—and in the beginning they used to come up and they’d say, “Who are you? What do you do?”—now they come up and they say, “Hey, I saw your ads on TV, Boy that ad in Spaces magazine was great!” They feel like they know us. We are not the new kids on the block, although relatively speaking, we still are. They perceive us as a known commodity.