Being in the advertising business myself, I often hear stories about how and why busi­nesses don’t have money in their budget for advertising. They say, “We can’t afford it!” The solution? Simply put…then advertise! To be blunt, you can’t afford NOT to advertise! It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces.

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar business or an online business, advertising is a MUST. It just doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on inventory, overhead, payroll, websites, etc. and then not tell anyone who you are, what you do, and where they can find you!

I heard a story about a landscaper with a very small advertising budget who placed a $27 ad in his local pa­per. When he remembered to place the ad, he almost missed the deadline. He had 20 minutes to get it in and then ended up having to use his girlfriend’s debit card because he had left his at home. The ad went out, and he only received one call from an elderly woman who hired him for a simple $25 pruning job. Disaster, right?! Wrong! It turned out that the neighbor across the street liked what he had done and hired him to do their prun­ing. Then the son of the elderly woman hired him for a big job, as did his brothers and sisters. The landscaper ended up working for the whole family, which became a very big account, all off of an inexpensive ad that origi­nally only produced one phone call!

Although I don’t recommend haphazard advertising, the point of this story says that even though he only re­ceived one phone call from the ad, it was well worth the money and aggravation! The advertising did its job!

So many times I have called upon businesses I’ve never been in, and when I see their services and/or product, I am sometimes shocked because I had no idea! I always say that if I don’t know, how many other people don’t know?! And the same thing can be true for online busi­nesses. If people don’t know who you are and what you do, consider it lost sales! Every successful business is built on proven advertising techniques, which can vary depending on the type of your business.

What do you do?

First, if you haven’t already, carve out an advertising budget. It is a MUST even if you have to cut back on something like the inventory for a while. It only makes sense!

Second, know who your target audience is. There are many reasons to know this piece of information, one of which is so your advertising dollars go to the right place.

Third, with budget and target audience in hand, do a little research to determine which advertising venue is best for you.

Fourth, good business is based on relationship. There­fore, your ads should portray you as a nice person who cares about your customers and business, NOT as a ma­nipulator like the stereotypical used car salesman type.

Fifth, begin advertising with the understanding that it’s about branding. Whether you get one customer (like in our story), lots of customers, or no customers, brand­ing takes time and patience. Don’t expect that a one-time ad is all that you need, but at the same time don’t think that a one-time ad can’t help in some situations. However, it’s the long-term consistent advertising that will get you there. Slow and steady!

Advertising can be a very good vehicle if it is used properly. Your ads should be fun and beautiful, not ma­nipulative. Remember, pictures can speak a thousand words. Your ads let people know who you are and what you do. And if you think about it, advertising can be an extension of who you are. When you are authentic, even in your advertising campaigns, you will get even more amazing results!

Shileen Nixon is the founder and publisher of “The Paper” publication who also has a background in health & wellness with a specialty in emotional wellness.

At the age off 55, Shileen discovered the empowering healing tool of yoga. Her sweet, gentle, and loving spirit as an Inspired Yoga Guide enables her to combine her Emotional Wellness background with her passion for yoga to assist women heal in body, mind, and spirit. She provides a free 7 Day Home Yoga Jumpstart Program, one-on-one coaching, and free resources to help women on their own yoga journey and work through issues such as self-esteem and body image in a whole, balanced way.