(Submit Articles) I started a small business at home. With my computer and printer, I started a personalized greeting cards printing business. I started doing pro bono work for friends and because they liked my design so much, they encouraged me to continue with what I was doing. They started placing orders for print greeting cards in bulk ““ usually just before the onset of Christmas. This hobby then became a business when my friends’ friends started placing orders as well. And as they say, the rest is history.

Anyway, my problem now is how I can grow the business even further. I have a client base but I want to expand my services beyond my small network. I tried advertising in the community newspaper. I also sweet talked the newspaper delivery boy to insert my flyers. I also went to places where people in my community congregate such as places of worship, grocery shop, Laundromats, among others. I had few inquiries but nothing that I can call a sale. Just how can I increase my sales?

Well, I thought about it for some time. Do I need to advertise some more? Am I using the wrong marketing platforms? I do not have enough budget so what then is the most effective and least costly way to advertise? These were some of the questions I had. Sadly, I did not have answers to all these questions until I got the chance to talk to a friend who is incidentally, a marketing strategist as well as an online printer. In fact, he was one of those online printers who got great printing reviews from the work he’s doing for his customers.

I consulted him and asked him what I am doing wrong. He started by praising me for my efforts to reach out to more customers. He told me that the flyers and the print ads are good marketing ideas. He told me that the problem is not in the marketing platform but in the message. He noticed that my message was very long winding. Well, it was a little. He also told me that the graphics that I used for the ads were competing with the message. Guilty once more. I just thought that since I am into personalized greeting cards business, I have to show how talented I am in designing print greeting cards. I was wrong.

Anyway, he told me that great ads should begin with terrific opening lines. This is one way to catch customers’ attention. I agree. I looked at my flyers and print ads and I realized that the key message was buried in the middle. Now I understand that the message should be clear to all those who will read the advertisement as well as those who would be doing printing reviews about me and my business. The customers have to see clearly in his or her mind what I am trying to convey in the initial opening lines. Bury the message below and I run the risk of losing them.

Most messages bury the key message in the middle or in the last paragraph. Your message is not like a movie trailer ““ one that is suspenseful. In fact the obverse is true; the main point should be clearly stated right from the beginning. What I did was to go through my marketing collaterals and just crossed out everything that does not add or reinforce the message.

Finally, my friend told me to veer away from passive words and messages. He suggests that I use action words instead. These words should come out of the message and push readers to act on the message. He left me with a very practical advice: Start with a Bang and end with a Bang.

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