You're spending a ton of money every month on advertising. And if your ads are doing their job, the phone's ringing and plenty of qualified leads are being generated.

But how do you make the phone ring even when you're not running ads? Simple: branding.

Even if your monthly ad budget is small, it's important to realize that every dollar you spend can tattoo an image of your company in the minds of those who see and hear your ads. Here's a checklist of items to bear in mind when writing your ads:

  • Slogan. A slogan forces you to decide what you want your brand promise to be. It gives you the opportunity to drill it into the minds of your prospects. Make it four to eight words long, and use it to communicate a big promise. Examples: “Taking the Risk Out of Home Improvement,” “The Last Roof You'll Ever Need.”
  • Consistent look and feel. Change the message in your ads to keep your offers and promotions fresh. But don't change the way they look and feel. People will start to associate your company with a certain design or layout, which helps them remember you.
  • Colors. Choose your company colors and stick with them in everything you do.
  • Logo. Create a logo that's simple but communicates your company's promise. Make sure it appears prominently in your print and TV ads, on your Web site, and in your mailings.
  • Jingle logo. A 1-to-3-second jingle can be tagged onto your TV or radio advertising — essentially the audio version of your print slogan.
  • Phone number. Get an easy-to-remember phone number, and run it in all your advertising. I recommend toll-free 800-numbers followed by words that have some relevance to your company. For example, 800-NEW-LOOK would be perfect for a window and siding company.

Think these tactics are only for big companies? Not at all. If you're planning on being in business for a long time, implement these ideas now and it won't be long before you start getting calls from prospects who “just knew about you.” We call those free leads. —Rich Harshaw, author of Monopolize Your Marketplace, is a marketing expert;