"Rule #5 -- all the advertising you can afford isn't worth the customers you already have." In How to Make the 33 Ruthless Rules of Local Advertising Work for You (Breakthru Publishing, 713-522-7660, 1994, $25), author Michael Corbett seems to state the obvious, but the obvious is what many companies forget in their haste to reach the public. In some cases Corbett could quantify his rules better; still, he presents useful parameters for setting growth objectives. Unclear on how to set an advertising budget? "Rule #6 -- Know what a new customer is worth to you" presents a nine-part calculation that will inform your spending decisions.

Why the emphasis on local advertising? Because newspapers, cable TV, billboards, and radio are cheaper than national media yet allow cost-conscious advertisers to quantify their results (Rules #8 and #27).

The book includes definitions along with tips on writing ad copy. You'll find out which words sell (Rule #20). And there are plenty of real-life examples. For those intimidated by the whole idea of advertising, Corbett includes a detailed breakdown of an actual radio ad (Rule #19).

And here's another gem worth remembering. "Rule #32 -- Let your employees in on your advertising plans." After all, they probably talk to more customers than you do. Which brings us to an unwritten rule: ask your customers what they think of your ads -- before you run them. -- Robina A. Gangemi

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