How to Advertise a Service Business. Advertising any small business can be difficult, but a service business can be the most challenging of all to advertise. A service business is more personal by nature, because rather than selling products, what you are really selling is your own skills and talents, or those of your employees. Here's how to get the most from your advertising dollars.

Step 1.

Find what makes your business unique. What are you good at? Specialization can help a small service business break away from the crowd of competitors. Take a look at what aspect of your service you can emphasize to develop your position in the field.

Step 2.

Focus on benefits. Rather than talking about your credentials and experience, shift the focus to the benefits that your potential client will receive. This is what your customers are interested in hearing about. For every feature that you list about your service, it's the benefits of those features that you want your audience to remember.

Step 3.

Target your efforts. Who most needs what you have to offer? You can't market to everyone. Even the giant companies know exactly the customer they are trying to reach. Consider the age range, income level, interests and gender of your target audience. Learn as much as you can about this group. Although there are many other factors that you can consider, these few will get you moving in the right direction.

Step 4.

Match the message to the market. You've determined who your target market is and why they need what you have to offer. Now it's time to assess how this group can best be reached. What do they read, view and listen to? What products do they purchase? How are other businesses reaching this group? This will help determine what your most effective marketing strategies will be.

Step 5.

Consider your budget. There are low cost ways of advertising in every medium, and you don't need prime-time spots to accomplish your goals. Most businesses spend about 2 to 5 percent of their gross sales on advertising. If yours is a new business, you can project this figure from what you anticipate your sales will be.

Step 6.

Determine cost per ad. Multiple smaller ads are generally more effective than one big ad that eats your entire budget. Radio spots can be had at a much lower cost than television. Many successful businesses run solely off of classified ads in the newspaper. Websites such as Craigslist can be a goldmine, reaching thousands of potential customers for little or no cost. Special interest pieces on television or radio or in the newspaper can be had for the cost of a press release or just letting the news department know that you exist, and what makes you unique.

Step 7.

Be consistent. When you find what works, stick with it. Even if your chosen method doesn't work as well as you'd hoped, it often pays to stay with it for a few more months. Familiarity with an ad will often bring in customers that don't respond the first few times they see it. They need to know that you're going to be around when they need you. Don't let up on your advertising when you've got all the business you need. If you want to stay busy, steady advertising is the key.