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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Media advertising

If you need to make a big impact in your local area, outdoor advertising can raise your company's profile and deliver results. Poster ads put your message right in front of your potential customers.

Why outdoor advertising works

While some traditional advertising media are in decline, outdoor is growing. It works because it is seen by everyone who leaves their house.

Poster advertising is highly prominent and does not require the consumer to do anything to access it. You don't have to tune in or click onto it or turn a page. At the same time, most people regard it as less intrusive than other methods of advertising. Indeed, a lot of outdoor advertising engages the consumer, providing colour, humour and insight. In locations where it sits in front of a captive audience - on public transport or at waiting places, for instance - it can even be seen as a welcome distraction.

Where to advertise outdoors

Outdoor promotion is not just about massive billboards on the side of the road. There are poster sites and sizes to suit all budgets. Your choice will be driven by how well you understand your target market. If your target market is largely defined by geographical location, a few well-chosen poster spots and advertising signs in your area could raise your company's profile and drive sales.

The transport network provides opportunities to get valuable outdoor exposure for your business. Advertising on buses, trains, trams, the tube, taxis and at airports are all highly visible. One of the key advantages of these positions is that they can put your advert in front of a captive audience. Advertising on public transport is ideal if you are targeting business people and commuters in your area.

Outdoor advertising on the high street and in shopping centres catches your potential customers while they are in shopping mode. A good poster campaign can prompt shoppers to buy your products there and then, especially if you are running a promotion as an incentive.

Creative posters and outdoor campaigns

One of the key considerations for any outdoor advertising campaign is the length of time the audience will have to view the ad. A roadside billboard has to convey its message in seconds, while other sites, such as station platforms, buses and taxis, may be studied for longer. Distance is also a factor. Roadside posters need to be simple, with clear images and as few words as possible.

Advertisements that will be seen for longer allow you to convey more information. Details of a specific promotion, a call to action and contact details can be included. However, a simple message and a clear identity are always essential. Colours should be bold and the ad should be easily visible from a distance. Humour, strong images and wordplay will make an impact and make your message more memorable.

Buying outdoor space

Most outdoor advertising is planned and bought via specialist agencies, although it is possible to deal direct with the owner of the advertising space. The key consideration in terms of choosing a site is audience measurement, or "reach". When choosing your sites, ask about audience measurement. A good contractor will be able to tell you how many people see the site and what type of people pass by.

Use your own outdoor space

Don't forget to make the best use of your own premises. Good signage is essential. It is also worth customising your company car or van. Vehicle advertising is highly visible and it conveys an aura of success and professional pride. It can also carry your contact details.