What does a new small business owner do to get the word out about their company? The obvious answer is advertising, but there are many factors to consider with a limited budget. The key to advertising is to reach as many potential customers as possible for the lowest cost. For businesses like our Here Wee Grow children, teen and maternity clothing resale shop, we run a modest newspaper ad that lasts a week for the same cost as a few 30-second radio or television ads. For us, the looming question was simply how many potential customers are reached by print? We can now answer that question for other small business owners from personal experience. After publishing a year of consecutive weekly ads in The Macon County News and conversing with our patrons, we are fully convinced that advertising in a free newspaper is essential in a region populated by small mountain communities.
We celebrated our first anniversary on July 25 and our first year of weekly advertising in The Macon County News. Other than the internet, newspapers are the only advertising in the mountains where your ad can reach potential customers for more than 30 seconds at a time. For a small business, just getting your name in circulation is a major obstacle to overcome. We like print advertising because even if someone reads an outdated issue of the newspaper, we still get the same exposure as our current ad. Our ad literally runs until the paper itself is destroyed or recycled and that is why print is such a valuable advertising asset for our business. The combination of small business advertising and free newspaper readership is not a new concept.
The earliest newspapers in America circulated widely and each paper was commonly read over a dozen times as discarded copies wound up in public buildings, churches, taverns, markets, or anywhere people congregated and had time to read. Modern times are not so different. We always see copies of The Macon County News in restaurants, barber shops, salons, doctor offices, or anywhere people have time to wait and are looking for something to read. Odds are very good that a person sitting and waiting for an oil change is likely to read a stray newspaper that belongs to no one and is full of local articles and advertising. Odds are even better that our new potential customer will leave the paper behind for the next person to read, considering the paper is free.
A yearlong survey of our customers revealed that nearly half first heard about Here Wee Grow by reading our ads. We ask every new customer how they heard of us and we hear people mention The Macon County News—even shoppers from as far away as Waynesville, Sylva, Clayton, Tiger and Highlands. The response to our ad is better than we ever anticipated. We recommend that any local business run a small series of ads, see how many new faces appear in your store, and enjoy the exposure gained from advertising in a free newspaper. An ad can also be more than just text in a box simply telling people to “buy your stuff.” Recently we ran two full color ads with illustrations of the new 2012-2013 dress code for Franklin High School.
Advertising in a locally owned newspaper also keeps our money here in Franklin, which is one of the basic principles of Venture Local Franklin. There is simply no other town in Western North Carolina with such a diversity of secondhand clothing outlets. We need to spread the message beyond Franklin, and The Macon County News does that for us. Advertising in a free newspaper helped our original Here Wee Grow business double in size. After a year of running weekly ads we have gathered enough customer feedback to know that advertising in a local free press produces results. We look forward to expanding and continuing our relationship with Venture Local Franklin and The Macon County News as we begin our second year of “Bringing Asheville to You.”
Jason and Julia Abram, owners of Here Wee Grow