Effective advertising reaches potential customers and informs them of your products or services. Ideally, advertising should capture the prospective customer’s attentions attention and entice them to use your product.

Regardless of the method, all your advertising should be clear and consistently reflect the unique positioning statement of your business.

Advertising is communication intended to inform, educate, persuade, and remind individuals of your product or business. Advertising must work with other marketing tools and business elements to be successful.

Advertising must be interruptive — that is, it must make you stop thumbing through the newspaper or thinking about your day long enough to read or hear the ad. Advertising must also be credible, unique, and memorable in order to work.

Like all effective marketing support, it must be built upon a solid positioning strategy. Finally, for any advertising campaign, enough money must be spent to provide a media schedule for ad frequency, the most important element for ad memorability.

Here are the top tips.

1. Take full advantage of low and no cost advertising

There are many things you can do in the way of advertising, promotion, and publicity that cost little or nothing.

And when you become successful enough to be able to afford more sophisticated ad techniques, there are ways of measuring to some extent just how effective these methods are in terms of your business growth.

As always, the chief concern is that the advertising do what it is intended to do: cause more people to purchase more from your business.

2. Cultivate referral business

Effective advertising does not need to cost a fortune, provided you spend your money wisely. As we noted earlier, word-of-mouth is not only the oldest form of advertising, but is still one of the most effective.

To help encourage word-of-mouth advertising, ask for referrals consistently. Depending upon the nature of your business, staying in contact with your customers can help generate referrals by keeping your name top-of-mind.

Many personal services businesses, such as accountants and real estate agents, send birthday and holiday cards to their customers. Other businesses, such as hair salons, offer discounts or a gift certificate to customers who provide a referral that brings in new customers.

Good advertising is consistent in look and message. This means that you should develop a simple logo that and use it on all printed material to identify your company.

Printed material includes items such business cards, letterhead, brochures, flyers, gift certificates. Your logo should also appear on your website.

3. Leverage your business cards

Print attractive and informative business cards that include your logo and hand them out everywhere, consistently! If appropriate for your business, you use your card as a discount certificate or other incentive.

Another option is to have some cards printed on a magnetic backing so that it can be put on your customer’s refrigerator.

Print up some gift certificates. These let your customers introduce you to new customers. Since you get paid up front for the product or service, these are cash-flow friendly.

4. Brochures can sell customers on your business

Brochures allow you to provide enticing details about your product or service. Simple three-fold brochure paper (stock) may be purchased from mail order suppliers such as Paper Direct. This type of stock comes in attractive cuts and colors.

Template software can be obtained that permits you to use your computer to generate classy looking brochures at minimal cost. Plus, many suppliers, such as Paper Direct, provide instantly downloaded templates.

When designing your brochure focus on making it simple, yet eye-catching. Make your headline stand out. Use graphics. Give your customer as much quality information as you can pack into this identity piece.

Keep it up to date and personalize it when possible (by writing in the margins or underlining specifics that might interest a particular prospective customer).

If you have a slightly bigger budget, go for a slick four-color piece. You’ll need a printer who can do four color separations, so if you’re in a small town market with few hi-tech services, you may want to call a national firm that specializes in doing short runs.

Firms such as FedEx Office do high-quality, relatively low-cost work for small businesses. They also have a wealth of samples to get your creative ideas flowing.

5. Flyers are the thrifty entrepreneur’s dream

You can create them very inexpensively on your computer, or your local print shop can do them for you. You can use as much color as you like, with either a color printer or old-fashioned colored paper stock.

Pack them full of information and post them on every bulletin board you can find that’ll allow you space. Easy to distribute in bulk, these handy attention-getters can also be used as bag stuffers or inserts to put in with billings or to include when mailing payments to your suppliers.

In fact, don’t mail anything out of your business without including some little sales piece. Take advantage of piggybacking on that postage stamp.

Placing stacks of flyers in building lobbies and tucking them under windshield wipers are done frequently, but you must be willing to alienate some people if you use these methods of distribution.

6. Door hangers remain very effective

Door hangers are widely used by fast food and home delivery and service businesses. If you choose this medium, don’t scrimp on the stock. Make it heavy so it won’t blow off door knobs and litter the neighborhood.

Door hangers are a good way to focus in on a specific target market that is defined by their geographic locale.

7. Create your own newsletter

Creating your own newsletter can be an effective way to reach customers. Your newsletter can be a blend of advertising and informational text that reminds your audience of real estate tips, listings, resources and news, keeping you in touch with them.

8. Do something first

Ideally, something very entertaining or impactful. And you need to consider the context of the world’s first attempt, and how it relates to what you’re selling. It’s no good being the first CEO to sit in a bathtub filled with baked beans for 48 hours if you’re selling car insurance.

What does one have to do with the other? A classic recent example of a world’s first stunt that paired beautifully with the brand was the Red Bull Stratos Space Jump. You will have heard of it, every news outlet and online source covered it.

In 2012, Felix Baumgartner became the person in history to break the sound barrier without the help of a machine.

He literally jumped to Earth from a capsule in space; over 23 miles, reaching incredible speeds. The stunt pulled in over 8 million live viewers, and Red Bull was seen throughout the jump.

9. Poke fun at a competitor

There is a fine line to walk here. You have to make sure you’re not coming across as too snarky, or over-indulging in schadenfreude. But this is business, and it can generate a lot of buzz when you openly pour scorn on the failure of a competitor’s brand.

The most famous example comes from the Mac vs. PC ads, in which Mac skewered the PC in a series of commercials that were watched and shared millions of times online. Then, there was the Audi vs. BMW billboard war.

Audi started it with Your Move BMW, but few people at the agency thought that BMW would come back with a billboard right next to it saying Checkmate.

And in Britain at the turn of the millennium, the British Airways London Eye was having all sorts of problems being raised. That’s when challenger brand Virgin Atlantic jumped on the chance, floating a balloon close by saying BA Can’t Get it Up. Classic Richard Branson.

10. Zig when others zag

One of the biggest issues facing the creative department of an advertising agency is convincing the client to do something that its competitors are not doing. It goes back to the 50s and 60s when clients would turn away interesting work saying “that doesn’t look like an ad for our product.”

But this is the ideal way to grab the attention of the public. When other companies are going small, go big. When they’re being loud, be quiet. When they’re using comedy, use drama.

A great example of this is Dove’s campaign for real beauty. At a time when all other beauty product companies were using female models that were “tens”, Dove decided to use real women in their ads.

And, they showed the “behind the curtain” moments of how any woman can become “perfect” by using Photoshop. The videos went viral.

11. Hijack an event or holiday

It doesn’t have to be a big day, like Christmas or Halloween. If it’s an event that will get any kind of news coverage, you have an instant advantage.

Labor Day is an ideal vehicle for many products and services to do something big, and different. And events like the Oscars, the World Cup, the Olympic Games, and even local events have some built-in newsworthiness that you can take advantage of.

It’s important to tie to the context of the event, though, and if you do it badly, you will come across as foolish. If you’re doing something on President’s Day, you’d better have a natural connection to it in some way.

12. Break a world record

The Guinness Book of World Records is known around the world. There are thousands of records archived, and new records are broken every day.

It has become such a great way to capture the imagination of the public that Guinness has sections of its website devoted to corporations getting involved in new or existing records.

They list the advantages of record break as boosting brand awareness, team building, good cause promotions, and anniversaries.

Recently, the Porsche Cayenne broke the world record for the “Heaviest aircraft pulled by a production car;” a record that was previously held by the Nissan Patrol.

Don’t worry if a record doesn’t even exist; simply create on that fits with your brand, even if it’s something silly like “number of cookies balanced on your nose.” Someone, somewhere, will pick it up.

13. Create a “viral” event and release the footage

The word viral has become painfully overused in marketing and advertising. Most of the time, it’s very hard to capture lightning in a bottle. People will either interact with your brand, or they won’t.

However, there are ways to almost guarantee a video will go viral, and that’s by staging an event and filming it. Then, you release the footage on YouTube, Facebook, and other sites.

Classic examples of this in recent times include TNT’s Push To Add Drama, the Chucky Comes to Life Poster and the Telekinetic Coffee Shop.

Every one of those stunts garnered over 50 million views on YouTube, and there were countless more shares on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. If you put in the work, it will pay off.

14. Use the power of celebrity

There is another easy way to grab the attention of the public, but it’s definitely not the cheapest option. If you work with a big celebrity, you have a guaranteed audience of millions that will watch almost anything he or she does.

Of course, you have to find the right stunt, the right product or service, and the right time to do it. In 2004, Tiger Woods was at the height of his success, and the world’s tallest free-standing hotel, in Dubai.

Although he was paid a cool $1 million to play in the tournament, it was his tee shot from the top of the 1,053ft building that made the headlines.