With Christmas fast approaching, magazines and other advertising avenues are clambering over each other to get people to spend their marketing budgets with them. Instilling fear into the business owners that without “This Advert” no-one will buy your product this winter season. Advertising is just one part of marketing and the people that I mentor know that they will have to invest a portion of their budget in it at some point. Thought through – it can work incredibly well for business, rushed – and it can have little or no effect and waste your budget. Use the following pointers to give you confidence when dealing with ad sales staff and to putting you on the right road to making your advertising work for you. Rule number one: Ask yourself what do you want to achieve? Do you simply want to raise awareness of your business’ location and logo or do you want to announce a new product line or offer. There must be a reason for your intended adverts. Refer back to your overall marketing plan and ensure that it fits into the correct consumer mindset and mission. Rule number two: Research your desired publications, websites, TV or radio stations. Speak to the advertising teams and find out what subjects they’re doing special focusses on each month and see which ones are relevant to you. Rule number three: Never, ever pay the first stated amount. Imagine that you’re on holiday in Egypt and have to barter the price down – generally you can look to chop off at least half of the initial price. They just set it that high so they have a place to go to make you feel that you’ve negotiated a good deal. Rule number four: A good ad sales persons aim will be to build a lasting relationship and subsequent contract with you. They are not bluffing when they say that it’s generally better to develop a three month plan with them as opposed to an ad hoc advert. This means that your company message and logo will be consistently seen in the public’s eye. They will normally do you a much better overall deal for this type of contract. Remember, however, that ad hoc advertising as part of another promotion can work sometimes if it’s part of an overall plan. For example: if an outer-back page of a magazine title that is very relevant to you comes up at an amazingly reduced rate it might be worth considering it. However, if it’s a four inch advert lost in the back pages with hundreds of others – you’re probably not going to see a return on it. Rule number five: Try to make your advert as accountable as possible. This means making an incentive for the consumer to use a certain code or quotes a particular magazine then they’re entitled to a special offer. That way at the end of the advertising spell you can tally up new business and assess if you made money to justify it again. This may require a few months in order to get it right and revision here is key. That is the beauty of online advertising – now you can ask for click through rates and see the statistics for yourselves. Rule number six: Really think at how you want to be portrayed as a business – it might be worth hiring your own freelance designer to ensure that your message is clear and modern. Some publications may throw in design of the advert as part of the deal – ensure that you have enough time for feedback and potential changes. Ensure that your logo, links to websites and contact information is correct. It’s all in the research and planning – do this and you’re more likely to see a good positive outcome from your spending. What would you add?