That’s the question on the mind of many a small business owner these days – particularly since there seem to be so many low cost and no cost ways to get the word out.

Well, for me the simple answer to the question posed in the title of this post is yes and it depends.

Wanna find out more about my thoughts on the effective use of advertising to generate and convert leads?

Join me for a special live tweet chat sponsored and hosted by FedEx Office® as part of their Boost Your Small Business Tweet Chat Series.

I’ll be live chatting on Twitter on Thursday October 13th at 7pm CT ( for the time zone challenged)

The best way to participate is to create a TweetChat account if you don’t have one and then log in during the time of the call using the #fedexsmallbiz hashtag. That way you can follow along with the discussion and participate in the full conversation with the other participants.

The discussion will be moderated by @FedEx and you can expect a lively conversation on this important topic, including a range of opinions about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to advertising your small business.

As part of the promotion the folks at FedEx Office have given me four $25 gift cards for my listeners to use on things like printing and binding those super important sales presentations.

Here’s how you can grab one of the gift cards – tell me in the comments of this post about the most effective use of advertising you’ve ever employed. Effective can mean new leads, signups, and, of course, new business. (I’ll choose the four best from the comments so make them good). FedEx Office has no involvement in the selection of the winners. This is sponsored by @ducttape.

Look forward to a lively chat on the 13th!

Disclosure: FedEx Office compensated me to write this post and participate as a small business expert during the FedEx Office Boost your Small Business Tweet Chat program. FedEx Office also provided the $25 gift cards. The ideas in this blog post are mine and not ideas or advice from FedEx Office.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

    I regularly keep in contact with customers and visitors to my shop via emails and a blog. Once a visitor reads the blog about what is currently happening at our shop they become interested and invested in our success: restoring & recycling (reselling) American- made vintage furniture and art. The blog (links which are emailed to those requesting to be kept in touch with) has been far more effective in convering leads to customers than any other form of advertising we have done thus far.

  • Hello John,
    The answer is yes, a business without a sign is a sign of no business. Also I agree it depends on many conditions that surround us in the risky game of advertising. I used the term game, because in a game you can either win or lose in small or large margins.
    When I first started my business in 1989 I tried anything that had little to no overhead such as fliers, business cards and carefully selected display ads. Well business cards produced a moderate return, yet residual over time, leading to a great referral tool. The fliers was almost a complete waste of time and actually got more of a response from the local police requiring me to obtain a permit that was basically not obtainable. Return on the fliers was 3 new clients to every 100 fliers, not worth it. Display ads are also risky, the average customer needs to see that ad a couple of times before they consider making the big call. Assumming that the average person fine combs the publications you have entrusted your lively hood with!
    Media’s such as television or radio is nice if you can afford the rotation schedule depicted in the requirements of the station’s criteria. Some radio stations offer free production, which makes the deal very attractive, but a half minute commercial in rotation could become more costly than the actual profit you may make from the prospects. Cable TV is in the same catagory, although you are paying the production costs of the video. Visual media is probaly the best if you can allocate the funds over time and reinvest your profits.
    We all know the web is a great place to get the exposure we need but may take time to make your presence known via search engines ,postings and select webpage URL placement ads.
    Which brings up the best advise that I have, continued presence making your potential client know you are there and will be there for them when they decide that they need your service. Presence in many area’s is the way to roll, keeping your name out there over and over again. For many of us small business owners we must be modest in our advertising plan and we must do a great job to earn those referrals in making our presence known. In closing yes it pays to advertise but it depends on how, where, and when. It is all about your timing, placement and your budget.

  • I think the best way to build your brand awareness is to continuously advertise on one place or to one group of people. Because we all have limited advertising dollars, we cannot advertise every where. Hence we need to focus building brand awareness on one place, and then really engage with the people/customers there.

    Online Business
    Virtual Assistant

    • I have to disagree with the part of your statement saying it’s best to continuously advertise in one place. Knowing that a well can run dry, it’s best to have more than one well to drink from.

      When resources are limited, you’ve got to rely on resourcefulness. If you’ve got enough budget to pay for advertising in one place, do that – but then don’t neglect the time you could be spending on foot greeting potential clients in person, networking, joint venture/affiliate relationships, and other free marketing methods. Just make sure that all of your efforts are focused on methods and “places” most related to or visible to a high concentration of your market.

      • Dear Marc,

        Thank you so much for your tips. I really liked them and will follow them to get more out of my marketing strategies.

  • What makes advertising worth it is a marketing system to support the results of the advertising. Most businesses use advertising to do the selling for them, when really, this should be the “invitation to shake hands and talk about the problem” stage in the process.

    A solid marketing system and the advertising you use to “feed it” aren’t expenses but investment with a predictable return.

  • John,

    Shortly after starting my business at I, along with my band Big Daddy Weave were special guest on the syndicated morning show, “The Rick & Bubba Show”.  Prior to showing up I had some personalized drumsticks made for them, which is the focus of my business, and presented them on the air.  They loved them and mentioned my website 3 times that morning.  Over the next 24 hours I had 57 orders to show for the advertising results, not to mention the other orders that came over the next few days.  I have since done this with several other bloggers/radio host, etc… At a cost of less than $20, the ROI is huge.  Compare this with the $350 I spent last month advertising on a very visible drummer website.  The choice is obvious. 

    I learned you have to do something “different” to get a lot of attention.  This was done by doing something that no one else was doing.  And, personalizing it made them want to share it.

    • Hello Jeffaj,
      Nice sticks, excellent graphics, perfect advice! Sweet Home Alabama!
      I agree with you as a business owner  and as a musician, you have a certain edge on the competition with your unique product.
      I too have had a good amount of attention due to my abilities as a Special Needs Guitar Teacher, not many around that can actually teach Autisic students to play guitar. There are a lot of music therapists coming out of the schools, but very few with “feel” for the students needs.
      Look back at celebrities like G.Marx with his mustache and cigar or Alice Cooper and his snake, Cher and Bob Mackie outfits, Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire, the list goes on and on, all of these people had a “shickt” a “monica” , something very different to market.
      How about offering matching kick drum heads to go with the sticks?
      Good Luck with your project, see you at NAMM….Jodi Pic

  • Advertising and making cereative ads is very BIG REASON to be big company and KNOWN , As an example  Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, etc. spend millions of dollars doing this. However, that is what it takes to make it work – millions. If you have that sort of money to throw around on an unknown quantity such as image advertising go right ahead. But if you don’t have that much to spend on building your brand, your advertising expenditure will only be like a drop in the ocean in terms of the effect that it has on your brand recognition.

  • In order for people to find out about your business you need to advertise, it is as simple as that. But you need to find out what methods are best for your needs and use your money wisely.

  • L Brett9907

    All of these points are great aspects, especially for someone learning about the marketing company. I do believe also that advertising and creating networks of people will help out greatly in the marketing field.