As a small business owner, you should always be looking for ways to cut expenses and increase revenue. Expenses are anything that is required for your business to function. This can include web site hosting, copywriting or ghost writer fees, office rent and utilities, payment processing fees and even payroll for your office staff.
Anything that is designed to bring in sales or leads (and is measurable) is not an expense. Measurable, trackable advertising costs and sales force commissions and salaries are not expenses. These costs are an investment in your business and your future.
Measurable advertising that is designed to produce a certain measurable action is referred to as "direct response marketing". Advertising dollars spent on directing a targeted audience to respond via a web site, email address or a special phone number is always an investment, not an expense.
For a home business or small business, it is not always practical to try and "get your name out" to your target audience (known as "branding") by spending thousands and thousands of dollars. A more effective way to advertise would be to run ads that attract the attention of your target audience and entice them to perform "your most desired action".
The desired action may be to visit a product web site, which could result in an immediate sale. A business owner that considers advertising an investment would make sure that the desired action at their web site is to collect lead information above all else. That web site could make some sales, but a mechanism to capture personal contact information of interested visitors will generate many more qualified leads. Through follow up contact, these leads could produce many more sales over time than the initial visit to the web site would.
Another desired action in your ad could be for the prospect to call a phone number for more information. They would give the phone person their mailing address (to receive a promotional package) and their phone number (that a sales person would use to contact them).
In either case, the follow up closes the deal, not the ad or the first visit to a web site. And if you can't close them with repeated follow ups, you can offer them other products and services related to the original offer that they may be interested in. Your product may be too expensive for them, but a cheaper similar product may be just what they were looking for!
Tracking and measuring your direct response advertising is as easy as tracking web site visits vs. how many prospects ask for more information (by giving their contact information) for each ad. Measuring how well an ad with a phone number pulls is as easy as using a different extension (Ext.321 for example) or contact name (Ask for Vicky) in each ad for the caller to ask for.
The list of contacts that grows from your investment of advertising dollars will give your home business real tangible value. You will be building a long term asset every time you advertise, instead of just doing another one time promotion (and hoping that you will at least break even). An email list is a very valuable asset for a small business, as is a house list of mailing addresses to use with direct mail campaigns.
So the next time you are buying advertising and think you are adding to your monthly expenses, think again. When you are looking to cut expenses, don't look at your ad budget. As long as you are using direct response advertising methods and your primary activity is collecting qualified leads, the cost will always be an investment in the future of your home business.
If you are not willing to invest in your own business, you have bigger problems than trying to cut expenses.
By Ken Leonard Jr.