Dictionary.com defines advertising as “the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.”.

As a professional paint contractor, your single largest advertising opportunity is your work.  The quality of your work reflects on how others perceive you. Your before-and-after photos are your most important testimony of all.

How you present yourself and your crew is also advertising. Prospects see your truck driving around town. Is your truck branded with your logo, phone number and brand message? Is your truck clean? Is the driver operating the vehicle in a safe and courteous manner?

Does your crew wear clothing with your logo? T-shirts and hats are an easy way to communicate your message and make a positive impression. Posting a sign in front of your job alerts nearby prospects that it’s your company on the job.

People believe what they see for themselves. Clean and caring or dirty and disheveled…impressions matter.

Perhaps the more relevant question is: “When should you spend money advertising your business?”

A general rule of thumb is to budget a small percentage (1.5-3%) of sales each year to paid advertising. Try to keep the percentage budgeted relevant to monthly sales. In months of strong sales, spend more. In slow months, spend less.

Basic budgeted items to include are your website, yard signs and business cards. During those months when you know sales will be strong, dare to add Google pay-per-click or Facebook advertising. Focus on the opportunities in your local market area for the most efficient results.

Advertising is a long-term strategy. Someone may see your sign, your truck, your before-and-after photos on Facebook and decide then and there to invite you to provide a quote. Many others won’t need a painter today. But a month from now, or a year from now, they decide it’s time to paint. Will they remember your company – or your competitor?

The bottom line is that no matter how busy or how slow business is, you need an advertising presence to build top-of-mind awareness and market share. Because it’s a competitive environment, you need to be in the game to generate the next sale.

A wise advertising executive once said, “In good times you should advertise and in bad times you MUST advertise.” Based on that, perhaps the simple answer to the question of when to advertise is today, tomorrow and every day thereafter.