Why advertising doesn’t work for small businesses

As a former Ad Girl, you would think I’d be gung ho about businesses advertising their wares, knowing exactly what media would work for a virtual assistant business.  But yet, I can honestly say I have spent less than £50 on advertising in the last year.  Marketing – don’t ask!  But advertising, practically nil.

Here’s why:

Advertising does not work for small businesses 

Now that’s slightly controversial so I am going to clarify.  The reason that advertising does not work for small businesses is that it is incredibly wasteful and small businesses don’t have enough budget to waste any of it on ineffective mediums.

E.g. Let’s say you are virtual assistant, just starting up.  You have no specialties, you just want some work.  You define your target market as “everyone”.  So you target the busy mum wanting admin help to pay bills, the entrepreneur who runs his business single handedly, a charity who needs help organising their next event, the company down the road who’s receptionist is off sick.  To reach all those different targets, you need a really broad ranging media.  The mum doesn’t read business mags, the charity may or may not see the poster you put up, the entrepreneur never listens to the radio, only podcasts.  So you end up using a scattergun approach to target everyone.  And by targeting everyone, you also target lots of other people who aren’t in your target market – known as wastage.

On the other hand, we have Ms Social Media, who only works with solopreneur website owners.  When she wants to start a new campaign, she advertises in a really niche publication specifically for that market, which has only 900 readers, but of those readers every single one of them is a potential client.  Her wastage is nil.  But these publications are few and far between…  And they are getting rarer as print costs rise and more and more people make the internet their first port of call for information.

So you aren’t going to waste your miniscule budget.  But where to spend it to get the greatest return on investment?

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Well, SVA devised 101 ways of marketing your business based upon tried and tested methods used by established VAs.  Then we bundled it together with some other useful marketing tools we had – all designed specifically for VAs!  When you consider that the average adverts costs £300-ish and there are lots of ways to market yourself for free, you begin to see why NOT advertising suddenly becomes a smarter choice.

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