Do one thing before you advertise

As a small business, advertising is essential to your survival. But it’s expensive, stressful and then there’s the drama of finding outlets to advertise with for the best bang for your buck.

However, there is an alternative that you need to consider before running any ad. One very important question you need to ask is: ‘Can I get this space for contra’?

Contra, barter, swaps, the hustle, it’s the lifeblood of any small business. When cashflow is short, and you need to push your product into media space, a brilliant way to do that is to offer your product to a media outlet in exchange for their space in a promotion.

How do you do that? Well, that’s the fun part. Just have a flick through a magazine and take note of the promotions. Perhaps it’s a ‘Letter to the Editor’ prize, a gift with subscription purchase, or a full page stuffed with pictures headlining ‘freebies!’

These are promotional spaces! And while these are often offered to clients first as part of an advertising package, they are sometimes available as contra spaces. So rather than pay for half a page in advertising, you offer a number of prizes instead. Usually the RRP total for the number of prizes you offer is much less than you would have paid for that half-page ad! It’s good old-fashioned bartering, and as a small business you should be used to the hustle by now!

It’s good old-fashioned bartering, and as a small business you should be used to the hustle by now.

 Promotions are a fantastic tool to investigate your target audience, and to test an audience that engage with your selected media outlet. Let’s say you call your local paper and run a promotion with them – great start! If you get a brilliant response to your promotion then that’s invaluable data for you and your brand. You know that that media outlet’s audience is engaging with your product. For a low cost promotion you can gauge the paper’s audience and whether taking the next step and advertising with them would be worth it for you.

Running a promotion with a media outlet will give you knowledge of the person who is responding to your product, and help you shortlist the media outlets that you will eventually advertise with. Promotions are media space without the media spend – get started using promotions to extend your brand, and your advertising budget.

Amanda WestphalFounder, Prize Pig