Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Five Strategic Tips for Mom and Pop

When it comes to marketing, these advertisers don't have access to ad agencies on Madison Avenue or number-crunching marketing officers in the home office. They depend on local sources for help. And your paper plays an important role.

Most of the businesses in your town are locally owned and operated "Mom and Pop" establishments. That means that most of the advertisers — and and prospective advertisers — in your market are small businesses.

When it comes to marketing, these advertisers don't have access to ad agencies on Madison Avenue or number-crunching marketing officers in the home office. They depend on local sources for help. And your paper plays an important role.

Here are five things that Mom and Pop advertisers should keep in mind as they develop their overall strategies:

1. Differentiate. Generally speaking, local businesses have three categories of competition: national chains (including online), other local businesses, and in some instances, do-it-yourselfers. For example, if you need an oil change, you can go to a nationally run chain, visit your neighborhood mechanic, or change your oil in your driveway (For do-it-yourselfers, the oil comes from — surprise! — a national chain or a locally owned business).

In order to succeed, a business has to stand out in the crowd. While it's nearly impossible for Mom and Pops to compete on pricing (think Walmart), the big boxes are vulnerable in the area of customer service. When you're searching for points of differentiation, look at customer service, convenience, caring support staff, etc. Capitalize on local-ness.

2. Budget wisely. When I was a kid, I worked for my allowance — raking leaves, mowing the lawn and helping with household chores. More than once, I heard, "Don't spend it all in one place."

Advertisers would be wise to follow that advice and distribute advertising dollars throughout the year. Full pages or quarter pages? Four color or black and white? Take a look at the budget and analyze peak seasons for specific products and services. Don't limit the thinking to one area; consider combinations of ROP, special pubs, inserts and online.

3. Schedule wisely. In today's over-communicated world, an ad-by-ad approach won't create much brand recognition ("Quick, what can we run to promote this week's sale?"). A strategic ad campaign is always better than a string of unrelated individual ads.

Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. This week's sale is more than an event; it's a piece of the brand identity picture. How will it fit the overall perception that the business wants to create in the consumer's mind?

4. Develop a web presence. The first step is a clean, easy-to-navigate website. The second step is a link on your paper's website. That allows advertisers to reach consumers on a 24/7 basis, even when ads don't appear in the current print edition.

Print vehicles must embrace the online world and its enormous opportunities for advertising revenue.

5. Take advantage of co-op ad dollars. Mom and Pop may have a rich uncle. Many manufacturers have generous co-op programs to help promote their brands on a local level. Sometimes it's simply a matter of featuring a corporate logo in the advertising.

Co-op can make a small campaign bigger. And better.