Q: I'm opening a catering business/cooking school, and my advertising needs are twofold: I need to advertise the catering service to potential clients, and I also need to attract professional chefs who can cook for the catering business as well as teach classes. How do I divide my advertising dollars?
A: You are opening separate but closely connected businesses with chefs as the link between the two, and you can't open either business until that hiring has been done. Recruit the men and women getting ready to graduate from culinary schools; you can find a list of such schools at www.culinaryschools.com or by utilizing ordinary Internet search engines. Marsha Parmer, director of career services at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, says, "About 25 percent of our graduates would be able to enter a business like the one you've described and would probably consider it. I think more would do so if the opportunities existed."
Once you find these schools, ask the directors of career or placement services if you can send 50 or 100 professionally designed brochures to be handed out to interested students. Include an application form and your contact information in the piece.
When your hiring is done, it's time to reach potential clients for your catering service and students for your school. Let's say the cooking school has the best potential for quick cash. And let's say your students won't be training to be professionals but are men and women who just like to cook and want to develop their skills. Adults 25 and older may be the ticket here, but you know your target audience and must make the final decision. The food section of your local paper and a cable TV food channel would be good places to reach both men and women, while something along the lines of a sponsorship of Martha Stewart's Living on radio or network TV would reach a predominantly female audience.
Having more than one potential audience isn't a curse. The ability to advertise to different groups allows you to take advantage of advertising deals that come along in radio, TV and print that you wouldn't normally consider otherwise. For instance, a florist might think that getting customers into the shop should be the primary focus of his or her advertising. But this business can also advertise to restaurants, hotels and banquet facilities for supplying large, elegant centerpieces for events, or to grocery stores and minimarts for bouquets.
Make a list of the things your business is capable of and determine where the largest portion of your customers will come from, so you can place your dollars there first. Then expand the market to include other viable groups, and reach out to them. Craft each ad to target the specific demographic group, and explain the benefits of doing business with you instead of your competitors. Some of the benefits will be ubiquitous, but you'll be able to include specific values for each group.
Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. It's available in major bookstores; from Amazon.com, Borders.com and BarnesandNoble.com; or by calling (800) 228-2275. You can reach Kathy at (315) 487-6706 (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST), or visit her Web site at http://www.silentpartneradvertising.com.