Q. I have recently started a business and am wondering whether I should be planning for an advertising campaign?

A. Lots of entrepreneurs won’t be able to afford to spend on an advertising campaign when they first start out, it’s usually something that comes down the line. However, Carl Harris, business director at Cuba UK, an advertising agency, says that entrepreneurs should have thought about their tactics from day one: “Having a plan in place is the only way that you can figure out advertising budgets and decide when you want to start a campaign. For example, will you wait until you reach a certain level of revenue?” Harris says that the main thing you have to consider is what you are trying to achieve, for example if you are introducing a new product then you should be advertising from the beginning, whereas if you are going it alone in a sector that you already have contacts in or a proven track record, then your business might get off the ground through word of mouth alone. Harris says that when you are ready to advertise it’s worth ensuring that you have the resources available to deal with any surge in demand.

Q. How should I prepare for a first meeting with an advertising agency?

A. There are three simple questions to ask yourself from the outset, says Wayne Brown, deputy managing director of Glue, an advertising agency in London: “Firstly, what do you want people to do with your product?; secondly what do I need to do to get them to do it?; and lastly why should people believe in my campaign?” You also need to ensure that you have as much information as possible about the demographics of your target audience: where they are based, their tastes and their age. After that you need to be aware of what your competitors are doing. For example, Cuba’s Harris says that you need to decide if you want to stand out from the rest of the market or if you don’t, and the answer may depend on your chosen industry: “In the past legal firms tended to use burgundies, dark blues and greens for their advertising campaigns as this was reminiscent of leatherbound legal volumes. No one would use bright colours until they all started to do it.”

Q. I only have a limited budget, how can I ensure that my campaign will work?

A. There are many ways to make a budget stretch to your needs, for example if you have a fixed budget then you might want to spread it out over a number of weeks or months, rather than blow it all on one 30-second prime time TV slot: “You need to choose the best medium to target your demographics, for example if you are a financial services business then you want to get into the financial and trade press. You also need to keep the campaign sustained, since human nature shows that the more we see something the more we want it,” says Harris. Glue’s Brown points out that lots of brands are actually formed by word of mouth, for example Google and Spotify: “New forms of media such as Facebook and Twitter are great at getting a message across and they don’t cost very much to include in your campaign.”