Before settling on a marketing plan, know your customer. A good strategy will target a specific customer base, those who view your product or service as filling a need or solving a problem. To advertise effectively, a small business marketing plan needs to determine customer motivation in order to expand your customer base and develop repeat customers. Identify what is special about your product or service and build on that uniqueness. Watch industry trends for additional services or products that may be of interest to your clients.Direct response advertising allows a business to measure responses. It’s a sales strategy that requires an action for the customer to receive a discount, free gift, or free information. Use this information to build on effective advertising methods, and eliminate the ineffective methods. Set an expiration date on your special offer to encourage prompt action. Direct response can be built into almost any advertising method.Phone books, magazines, and daily and weekly newspapers are advertising tools that take a message into a lot of homes. Circulars printed for a specific community are a good choice for a small business providing a personal and local service. Add a coupon, or a code that a caller or online buyer must enter to qualify for a limited time offer. Now you can measure the effectiveness and the efficiency of your advertising strategy.The internet is a powerful marketing tool that can be global. Websites and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are used by millions every second of the day. When a customer visits your website, elicit an immediate response with a link to click on, or a code to input, to receive a time limited offer for a free gift, or a discount on a purchase.Telemarketing, radio advertising, and cable TV are advertising strategies that reach thousands of potential customers. To track the efficiency of a telemarketing program, the call should set up a sales appointment or ask for a purchase decision. Radio and TV advertising can require the customer to give the call letters of the station to receive a special offer. Infomercials reach a large audience with demonstrations that stimulate desire. Add a special limited time offer for a quick response.Offer your customers discounted services for referring new customers. Remind them by leaving extra business cards and fliers they can pass on to friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Cross advertise with businesses offering related services. Let them leave brochures marketing their services that you pass on to your clients and ask them to do the same for you. With a coupon included in the brochure you encourage quick action and can track responses.Track the effectiveness of your direct mail advertising by including a coupon, or list a phone number with a code the caller provides. The code should identify to what advertisement the caller is responding. Catalogs can print a code to be requested when placing an order. Your customer is most likely to include the code in their order if a special offer is attached. Use this information to track customers preferred media for obtaining information.Clear and concise advertisement focuses on the needs and wants of the customer. Solve a problem and create desire. Keep abreast of market trends and price your service or product competitively. An effective small business marketing plan uses direct response methods that allow the business to qualify and quantify the responses to their advertising strategy. With this information define and target your customer base. Expand your customer base while spending your advertising dollars wisely.