Knowing how to effectively stretch every dollar you make leads to a successful small business. This certainly rings true when it comes to advertising. A little research can go a long way to getting the most for your advertising dollar.

Savvy entrepreneurs take advantage of a variety of low-cost alternatives.

L-A SCORE counselor Charlene Belanger, former marketing specialist with a Maine television station, states, “Time, energy and creative thinking are key to getting advertising results. One can find low-cost options in almost every advertising category.”

The bigger, more prominent ads in almost all advertising mediums will naturally cost more. So, Belanger said, one alternative is to advertise in the classified section of newspapers and magazines, which costs less and is often overlooked by advertisers. “Try a few test ads to gauge response,” she said

Advertising online through search engines also can be inexpensive, she said. You can find complete details and guidelines on creating and managing pay-per-click ad campaigns at search giants such as Google and Yahoo!

A lower-cost option in the direct mail category is postcards. They are simple, timely and easy for customers to read quickly at a glance. And they are considerably less expensive than typical letter-and-envelope type mailings. Many local newspapers offer bulk mail and target marketing for postcards and similar types of advertising, which can make getting your message out more cost effective.

Regardless of the medium, talking to businesses who advertise with those mediums about their experiences can help you better gauge whether it’s right for you, while talking to the advertising representatives of those mediums will give you the complete range of possibilities.

Once you make the choice of where your advertising will appear, you need to determine its content so that the message sent is consistent, simple and yet distinct to stand out from others. The same principle applies to your ad’s layout, colors and logo.

To learn more about starting or improving your small business, contact SCORE, a nonprofit organization of more than 12,000 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential counseling and training workshops. In the Lewiston-Auburn area, call L-A SCORE at 782-3708 for information and an appointment; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123; in Oxford Hills call 743-0499. Or contact SCORE at

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