(By Gil Gerretsen) Many small business owners waste their limited resources by not being careful about where, when and how they advertise. What IS advertising? It’s the paid placement of a message to promote the goods or services of a business … and there’s a few simple tips that can help you get it right every time.

First, don’t fall prey to every skilled ad rep that comes along. They know how to push your buttons to maximize their own commission check. You must know exactly what you want before inviting them in.

Second, don’t become a panic advertiser. Panic advertising occurs when sales are slow and the business owner starts to worry. They start swinging their piñata stick in desperate ways. Sales reps pick up on that quickly and they’ll sell you anything they think you’ll buy, whether it’s right for you or not.

Third, design your message by speaking to your prospective customer. Build their interest by talking about them, not you. The headline is the primary source of your success. It’s not the name of your business but rather how you’ll make their life better in some way. They only care about who you are AFTER they discover what difference you’ll make.

Finally, be consistently patient. Advertising is not an instant success formula. It takes some time. Know where you should show up to reach your audience and then meet them there on a regular basis. People grant trust slowly and carefully.