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Advertising Strategies - Which One Is Right For Your Business?

Most business owners assume that advertising is used to influence a customer to purchase a particular brand. However, brand advertising is only one approach that needs to be considered when deciding which marketing strategy is right for your business.

If your aim is to heighten awareness of a particular brand amongst your customer base, then brand advertising is probably for you. Your advertisement should support your goal of attracting customers from a rival supplier, so as to either increase your market share, or arrest any decline in sales. Ask yourself: what can I do in this ad to stimulate selective demand? That is, demand for my product, rather than my competitors'? If you want to improve your "piece of the pie", then brand advertising is probably for you.

Product advertising, on the other hand, is designed to stimulate demand for a general product category. Because the aim is to increase the size of the industry as a whole, this strategy is usually adopted during the early stages of the product life cycle. For instance, a supplier of Goji berries might highlight the health benefits of the berry, rather than the superiority of one brand over another. This is because interest in the product is relatively new, requiring substantial consumer education in order to increase general demand.

Increasingly, corporate advertising is gaining momentum as a way for companies of any size to heighten awareness of their corporate name, as well as their brands. Typically, this strategy is seen as the domain of large, publicly-listed companies, however any established business interested in long-term positive public perception might consider such a campaign. A good example is the ongoing campaign to "eat more red meat", which presents a clear point of view in order to counteract negative sentiment. Such campaigns can work to improve public opinion, encourage customers to patronise the firm, or to help cement a corporate identity. If you have an established business with several products and/or services, or operate in a controversial industry, corporate advertising is worth considering.

Finally, co-operative advertising can be a creative solution when budgets are tight. Traditionally, manufacturers have paired up with retailers to split the cost of advertising the manufacturer's product (along with those of other manufacturers in the same campaign.) Supermarkets and department stores have for years derived most of their advertising budgets from manufacturer contributions in this way. However, any company with complementary business relationships might consider such an approach. What about a restaurant and a winemaker? A website developer and a graphic artist? A storage facility and a moving van? If your company enjoys close business relationships, then this approach could substantially reduce your overall spend, whilst increasing your overall reach.

In summary, it's vital to determine your advertising strategy well before you consider issues such as media selection, budgets or content. Firstly, ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve in terms of market share? How mature is the industry in which I operate? Am I looking for long-term or short-term gains? And, is there a way in which I can share the cost of advertising, whilst still achieving my objectives? A well-researched strategy is the framework on which any successful advertising campaign is built.

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