Advertising is a form of communication designed to persuade potential customers to choose your product or service over that of a competitor

Successful advertising involves making your products or services positively known by that section of the public most likely to purchase them.

It should be a planned, consistent activity that keeps the name of your business and the benefits of your products or services uppermost in the mind of the consumer.

Why advertise?

The objective of advertising is to increase your profit by increasing your sales. Advertising aims to:

  • Make your business and product name familiar to the public
  • Create goodwill and build a favourable image
  • Educate and inform the public
  • Offer specific products or services
  • Attract customers to find out more about your product or service

The rules of advertising

There are four rules to consider when planning any advertising activity – ie: before you prepare and book any form of advertising.

Aim – What is the primary purpose of the advertisement? Is it to inform, sell, produce listings or improve the image of your business?

Target – Who is the target? From which sector of the public are you trying to achieve a response? For example is it male, female, adult, teenager, child, mother, father etc.

Media – Bearing the aim and target in mind, which of the media available to you is the most suitable – ie: TV, radio, press or Internet?

Competitors – What are your competitors doing? Which media channel do they use? Are they successful? Can you improve on their approach and beat them in competition?

Developing effective advertising

Good advertising generally elicits the following four responses:

Attention – It catches the eye or ear and stands out amid the clutter of competing advertisements.

Interest – It arouses interest and delivers sufficient impact in the message or offering.

Desire – It creates a desire to learn more or crave ownership.

Action – It spurs an action which leads to achievement of the ad’s original objective – ie: it prompts potential customers to purchase or use your product or service.

Making sure your advertisement is legal

Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act (Cth) 1974 prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct.

You must consider the advertisement as a whole and the ordinary meaning of the words used. You must determine if the people to whom the advertisement is directed are likely to be misled or deceived by its content.

You can use humour, cartoons and slogans to make your ad stand out, but be sure they’re not likely to mislead or deceive your audience. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides advertising guidelines in information circulars that are available from the local office of the ACCC, or from

Commonly used media

There are many media options open to advertisers. Which media you use will depend on who you are trying to reach, what you want to say and your budget. Often a combination of media (the media mix) can be used to good effect. Remember to keep your branding and message consistent across all media. This includes use of colours, logos, design elements and fonts.

• Stationery

Stationery, which includes letterheads, envelopes and business cards, is a means by which your business image or “name identification” is projected. Good quality stationery, used with care and attention and with a high standard of presentation, is an everyday means of presenting your business image.

• Window display or office front

The external presentation of your business office or shop is one of the principal ways of establishing your business image. An attractive, well maintained exterior with clear, bold sign writing is an essential start. Windows should be bright, attractively presented, scrupulously clean and well lit at night. The display should be arranged neatly and aimed at projecting an attractive company image and providing a reason to buy your products or services. Above all it should have sufficient impact to attract attention.

• Press advertising

This is a commonly used form of general advertising and includes advertising in all press such as newspapers, magazines and journals. Press advertising is suitable for image building, information dissemination and sales campaigns. It is also a very affordable option for small businesses.

• Radio

Radio is considered by many advertisers as an ideal medium due to its ability to reach specific target groups e.g. teenagers, racing followers or grocery buyers. Radio advertising covers spot adverts (usually 15 or 30 second), promotions or talkback/DJ discussions. Most radio stations offer packages which include production and extension of your radio campaign through their websites.

• Television

Television is a powerful advertising medium because it creates impact through sight, sound and movement however the cost of producing the advertisement and procuring sufficient air time to allow the campaign to work often makes it prohibitive for small business.

• Direct mail

This is a broad category covering direct communication with the consumer through email, post or fax. It can include newsletters, catalogues and letters. If you plan to use email, be sure to comply with national anti-SPAM legislation which makes it illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority website for more details –

• Outdoor

This is any type of advertising which is done outdoors, including static advertising such as billboards, backs of street benches and bus shelters or mobile advertising displayed on buses, trains, taxis or towed signage.

• Ambient

Refers to any form of advertising that occurs in a non-standard medium outside the home, and usually where your consumers are likely to be. It’s limited only by your imagination and includes things like advertising on the back of shopping receipts or toilet doors at the cinema, placing branded coasters at the local pub, projecting onto buildings, advertising inside lifts or distributing branded cups.

• Cinema

You can purchase cinema advertising by individual cinemas or screens for a set amount of screenings or “runs”. Most providers offer packages which include production and screening of your advertisement

• Point of Sale

Advertising at the point where the consumer makes a purchase decision eg: floor stickers, in-store digital advertising, shopping trolley signage, shelf or counter posters or playing interviews about your product in store.

• Online

The options for online advertising continue to grow rapidly. They include advertising on your website, advertising on other websites, creating links to your website from other websites, publishing blogs, offering online product games, social networks and forums.

• Directory listings

Many consumers use business directories to find a supplier. Directories include the yellow or white pages, union directories, trade directories or local business directories.

Evaluating the effectiveness of your advertising

Famous American department store merchant John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was attributed as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted – the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This quote is often still true today as many businesses do not evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising.

Evaluating effectiveness can be as simple as staff asking every new customer “How did you hear about us?” or asking every customer that responds to an advertised special “where did you see or hear our advertisement?”

Whatever method you use, it is absolutely critical in getting top value for your advertising dollar by finding out which media works and which doesn’t.



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