My Thoughts On AdvertisingApril 27, 2012 No Comments
Powered by Max Banner Ads
Thank you for taking the time to read about my thoughts on advertising. I think that you will definitely take something away from the information I discuss. I have nearly 20 years of experience working with all types of advertising and have learned a lot over the years. I thought I would take some time and give you my unbiased thoughts on the different types of advertising. Word of mouth is excellent small business advertising, but it’s slow, and may be practically non-existent for new businesses. If you want to grow your customer base more quickly, you have to advertise. It’s choosing the right type of advertising which is the tough decision to make.
It was not that long ago when Yellow Pages were a key to a successful advertising campaign. There are still people that use the yellow pages and they won’t find you if you are not listed so it is still important to get the largest ad you can afford. However, the people that still use the yellow pages are the older generation and that market is dwindling faster than you might think. The Yellow Page industry has been a dying breed over the last 5 years. Most of them have been scrambling over the past few years to diversify and concentrate on internet including pay per click as well as direct mail. The reason for the decline is simple. The younger generation just doesn’t use them very often, if at all. Between smart phones and the internet, younger people have no use for them. Now, like I said in the beginning, there is still a place for them. Especially if you have an emergency service. For instance, a plumber, carpet cleaning, emergency vet, attorneys and a few more industries still benefit from having a big ad in the beginning of the heading. But, for most companies, you should just keep what you can afford with at least a minimal presence. You still want people to find you easily if they are looking for your number after seeing your name and logo somewhere else.
I’ve always thought that direct mail was the toughest type of advertising to figure out. Direct Mail can be a very effective way for small businesses to advertise, especially if you use some type of coupon or special offer requiring them to show you the actual offer. This way you can track exactly how effective it was and get a good idea on your return on investment. The reason it is the toughest to figure out is that it can be very inconsistent. It can work great one time and then absolutely nothing the next time. It really just depends on those in your target market opening the mail and then seeing your offer at the exact time they need or want your product or service. You can break it down to a specific demo which is good. But be prepared to be frustrated, especially for the money you invest.
I believe TV is the one media, along with Radio which I will get to next, which can take your business to the next level. TV is a very powerful medium which reaches a large audience with both sight and sound and should be a part of every advertising campaign. That doesn’t mean you need to be on year round, but the more the better. The most important thing to know about being on TV is to be consistent. It will be a big investment, but if you do it right it will be well worth it. The biggest mistake I see businesses make is to say I think I’ll try TV and spend a few hundred dollars for 3 months and say it didn’t work. To have a successful campaign you need to invest at least $500-$750 per month for 3-6 months. You are building an image with TV and that takes time but they need to see you consistently for your image to be built.
Think about the most successful businesses in your area. Most of them have one thing in common…a good TV campaign. Maybe a jingle you can’t get out of your head or a logo you see all of the time. They have built their image to the point where people think of them first and that is what you need to be successful. Now, maybe you are a small business that just doesn’t have the money to do a TV campaign yet. Maybe you need to look at some other options first, but if you are going to do a TV campaign, do it right. If you can’t do it yet, it is better to save up until you are in a position to start one the right way than to put forth a minimal effort. If you are looking for some grassroots type of marketing , check out the guerilla marketing section for great tips for low budget advertising.
Network vs Cable:
Another mistake I see businesses make on a regular basis is choosing a cable TV campaign over a Network station because it is usually less expensive for cable. But keep in mind…you get what you pay for. Cable is less expensive but the reach is not near that of what the Networks are. Cable can be effective if you choose the right programming. The mistake is made when they give you 50 spots for $200. Sounds like a great deal, but it won’t do you any good if nobody is watching . Those spots are usually randomly placed which is not worth it. As for network stations, you don’t have to be in prime programming to be effective, and unless you are willing to spend $2000 per month it would be hard to do. You need to find an area and “concentrate and dominate”. For instance, maybe you can pay $50 per spot for early news…place 3-5 spots per week for $150-$250 per week. And then change it to new time period the next month. That is building and image, people will not remember you if they only see you once.
This is the most important part of your TV campaign, and Radio for that matter. Think about some of the best commercials you have seen in the last year. Know what most of them have in common…either humor or a catchy jingle. A jingle can be very expensive to come up with, but humor can be done in many ways. I know a lot of business owners that are great at what they do…but not the most creative people…and that is okay. You don’t have to be. But you do need to be willing to ask for help. The production department at the station can be helpful along with the Rep you are working with. But don’t be afraid to ask around. Ask your friends and family. Tell them what you are working on and ask if they have any ideas. You will not like all of them, but you might be surprised with the response.
Radio, like TV, is all about building your image. When people think about businesses in you industry you want them thinking about you first. Again, like TV, a radio campaign should be consistent so people hear you on a regular basis. Pick a station that fits your demo the best and work with a rep to come up with a schedule that gets you maximum exposure for your investment. A minimum of $300-$500 per month should be a starting point for your campaign. If you put together a schedule for a couple hundred dollars your potential customers are not going to hear you enough for them to remember you. A concern I hear regularly is that I started my campaign a couple of weeks ago and I’m not seeing any customers. Again, like TV, you are building an image and that takes time. But, if you stay consistent with it, your business can flourish and be very successful. Building your image and brand is not the same as advertising with a coupon or direct mail where you have an offer and you know what brought that customer in. A customer could be hearing you on the radio and seeing you on TV for 6 months but is just now in the market for your product or service. But consistancy building your image insures you will be one of first businesses they call.
Newspaper, like the yellow pages, have seen their best days behind them. No matter how to spin it, their circulation is down in almost every market. There are still a few good newspapers out there, but the problem is that most of them are still trying to charge what they used to when they were a powerful media. There are still a few industries that can still benefit from advertising in the paper, but this would be far down my priority list of where to advertise. Especially if you are working with a tight advertising budget.
The internet is sometimes easily overlooked when thinking about advertising, which is hard to believe since it seems like we are all consumed by it. Having you own website for potential customers to visit is important, but don’t forget about advertising on other peoples websites to promote your business. For instance, a local NBC, ABC, or CBS Network usually have websites that have high monthly traffic for news and weather. And surprisingly a low number of advertisers as well. Maybe becasue of price or maybe because they are not doing a good enough job selling it. They usually have plenty of space for advertisers so don’t say yes to the first rate they offer. Have them show you all of the tiles available and what pages they are on. Weather is usually one of the pages with the most traffic depending on what part of the country you are in. Negotiate a rate with them and see if your can find something your comfortable with. Pay per click is also big right now and there can be big benefits in it…but also traps of you are not careful. There are a lot of companies that are selling pay per click advertising, especially yellow page companies, and most of them want you to sign up for a lengthy commitment with a substantial monthly investment. So Yes…it is pay per click…but more than you need to start with. Do some research yourself on google. You will be amazed at how simple it is. Also, you can choose how much you want to invest and for how long. This gives you an opportunity to experiment a little to figure out if it is something that works for you.
Is it effective? It can be if done right. I would start by developing your own email list of your own customers. Figure out a way to ask for it during the sale that doesn’t sound pushy and build a list. This is a great way to stay in contact with your customers and let them know about promotions and specials. You can also offer a special offer only to current customers or even a email only offer that they have to bring in and show at the time of purchase. This will give you a good idea of what type of customer base you have. You can buy lists but you need to be careful and realize that they do not know exactly what they have so be very cautious on the amount of money you spend for a list. Email marketing can be effective but I would start small to see if it is something that works for you before making a big investment.