SpotLight The Guide To GOOD ADVERTISING Getting the most from your marketing
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FOREWORD EXPECTATIONS WHY DO I NEED TO ADVERTISE HOW DO I KNOW WHAT WORKS BEST? WHICH MEDIA DO I CHOOSE? MEDIA TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES NEWSPAPERS RADIO COMMUNITY MAGAZINES THE INTERNET DECISION TIME
FOREWORD Marketing your business properly has to be the most overlooked aspect of running a small business. Many of us assume that, once we’re up and running, enough customers will naturally flock to our doors to keep our cashflow healthy and our bank balance good. This is a natural assumption; after all, none of us would be in business if we didn’t think our idea was a money-spinner, would we? Whether you’re starting out in business or are a seasoned veteran of the business community, you need to pay serious attention to how you get your customers and how you’ll get more customers when these ones have gone. The aim of this booklet is to explore, without prejudice, some of the pros and cons of advertising across a wide range of media - including our own - so that you can assess each and decide which is the most suitable for your business. Hopefully, this will let you come to an informed decision about why you should advertise, how you should advertise and how much you should allow.
EXPECTATIONS If advertising your business or product had an instant effect (like turning on a switch), I wouldn’t be writing this article and you wouldn’t be reading it. The truth of the matter is that nobody has the ‘answer’ to what works and what doesn’t. You can research successful advertising campaigns and, even though you think you may have, never quite put your finger on why some are successful and others aren’t. The truth is, something that you may find to be an innovative and inspirational way to advertise may be completely bland and uninteresting to somebody else. The only real certainty to successful advertising is this; if you’re advert isn’t there it’s not working. This is easy to see; all of the major global companies that stay on the tips of our tongues are there because they are constantly thrust upon us, through every medium, TV, Radio, Newspapers, Internet, Sponsorship and anything else they can think of. It would be a very rare business indeed that manages to make a killing from one advertisement. You should never approach your advertising in this manner. Advertising successfully means a sustained campaign in one form or another (unless you’re one of the few people who can afford all forms). There are some simple equations to ponder when it comes to advertising. What works for one business may not work for another but, by and large, ALL advertising is a numbers game. The more people see your advertisement, the better the chance that some of them will respond. This applies to any campaign and is a simple but powerful truth... ...after all, you could have come up with the best ad in the world, but if only 100 people get to see it then it’s effect is limited to those 100 people. If gaining customers was as simple as turning on a tap, we’d all be millionaires. Unfortunately this is not the case, and most of us will slowly build up our client base. The best you can do is help it along.
WHY DO I NEED TO ADVERTISE? Day in, day out, we see many businesses that think that ‘everyone knows who I am around here’. If that were true, we’d have known who they were - but we didn’t. Even business owners that have been going for many, many years are often shocked to discover how many customers they miss out on in their own locality. People who are happy enough to eke out a living on word of mouth alone are the only real winners in this situation, but that’s not to say they don’t spend half of their time wishing they had a bit more profit in their business. For many of us profit is a numbers game in itself. We’ve spent the majority of overheads on the first hundred customers for low profits, now if we can get the second hundred in, we’ll start making real money! Even for tradespeople, this has an element of truth; your van, tools, equipment and overheads still need to be paid for regardless of how many customers you have served. Ten extra customers could equate to almost pure profit! Putting out the odd advertisement now and again isn’t going to raise the profile of your business very much at all. If somebody is looking for a plumber in an emergency who do you think they will call? Will they pause and look through every directory they have to find your number, or they will ring the easiest one to find? Put yourself in this position and the answer will slap you in the face! Unless you’re one of the few people who are ‘happy with your lot’, there is only one answer to this question: You need to advertise!
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT WORKS BEST? Trial and error! It’s an all encompassing concept! You could choose to believe the multitude of figures and percentages that slick salesmen are going to give you. If you truly believe that these are going to be unbiased then you may be in for a shock! Year after year, many businesses will pour thousands of pounds into large advertisements in the big name directories without ever monitoring their response. When times go quiet (and they do for us all) should you wonder why your advertisement has stopped working, or if it was ever working in the first place? When times are good our natural inclination is to not question why we are experiencing the boom. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what we should be doing; we should be analysing our influx of custom to see where it’s coming from. It’s no good assuming that it’s coming from your one and only advert. For example; if there is a sudden boom in home improvement, potential customers become proactive in obtaining quotes, asking friends for numbers, ringing directory enquiries and so on. You may have a hundred customers during this boom, but if you don’t ask the question ‘Where did you find our number’ you’ll never know if all of them came from your advertisement or just one! Based on this lack of information, how can anyone expect to spend their advertising budget wisely? Speak to other business owners about what they have found to work for them, and on what basis. Spending your money on somebody else’s, or your own, gut feeling can become an expensive hobby. Ask yourself some simple questions about the medium you are considering, such as ‘would I look on the internet to find a gardener?’, ‘how often do I use directory enquiries’ etc. When you do find a medium that works for you, KEEP USING IT! Don’t discontinue your advertising to try something else. Try something in addition to your successful advertising or you risk losing the impact that you have built up.
WHICH MEDIA DO I CHOOSE? We’ll explore some of the pros and cons of different media formats in this section. Deciding on which media you should use is always tricky; as well as cost implications you’ll need to consider your target audience, the reasons why you’re advertising and what you expect to achieve from that advertising. Most often, the best approach is to use as many formats as you can afford (which is what ALL of the major companies do), but affordability is often the main factor that decides on how a smaller business will spend its advertising budget. The best media format for you is always going to depend on what type of business you run, and you should carefully examine how your potential customers will react to your advertisement. For example: As a plumber you decide to embark on a local radio advertising campaign: You need to ask yourself these questions; When your advert is played on the radio, do you think listeners will rush for pen and paper to jot down your number? In the event of an emergency, do you expect a customer to turn on the radio and wait for your advertisement? Of course, the answer to both of these questions would normally be a firm ‘No!’. Radio advertising would not be suitable for most plumbing services. However, if you were a nationwide chain of plumbers with a branded identity, then radio advertising could be just the medium you require to increase awareness of your brand. Branding itself is a powerful advertising tool, albeit unsuitable for many smaller businesses. If you do consider that you have a branded identity, then you need to ask yourself whether you are advertising for custom or advertising to increase the awareness of your brand amongst your target audience.
Media Telephone Directory advertising: Telephone directory advertising salepeople are some of the most aggressive in the market place. These are big players in the world of advertising, and their sales staff are well trained and highly polished. When you make an enquiry about this type of advertising, or when you respond to a sales call from one of the big directories, expect the hard sell. They will have many facts and figures to hand, from how many people use their directory to how much pence a day your advertising will cost! Pros: Everybody is aware of the big telephone directories, and most of us have one or more at home or work. Most people will, at one time or another, use one of the big directories to find what we need. Cons: Inactive form of advertising. Most peopleâ€™s directories will sit out of the way and not be picked up unless they need to find a number. This means that most of the time your advertisement is not working for you. Huge numbers of advertisers in the same trade mean that, even when your services are needed, it becomes a lottery as to whether youâ€™ll get the initial call. If you do get the call, expect to be competing against a large number of quotes from other advertisers. Fairly expensive form of advertising when bearing in mind the amount of time that your advertisement is inactive.
Media Newspaper advertising: This is probably one of the most expensive print based advertising methods you’ll come across. Finding out how many copies of a newspaper actually sell can be difficult; figures are hidden behind industry standards such as ‘readership’ (approx. 2.5 x sales) that assume that more than one person will read each copy sold. Some sales staff will quote the amount produced rather than the amount sold. Pros: Most newspapers enjoy decent readership figures and can offer an attractive form of incidental advertising, particularly when placed with big news items . Ideal form of advertising for larger, branded companies. Ideal for ‘immediate impact’ advertising e.g. sales events and urgent listings Good format for sectional advertising e.g. Motoring. Pro-active form of advertising. ‘Incidental viewing’ (i.e. your ad will have some impact, consciously or subconsciously) means your business is displayed and seen even if the reader’s interest is for something else on the page. Cons: Expensive form of advertising. Costs are accumulated on a daily or weekly basis. This means that a continued presence is often prohibitively expensive, even for larger companies. Low levels of coverage - some regional weekly newspapers reach less than 30% of all homes. Short term life of advertisement, publication is replaced by a new one daily or weekly in most cases. Low cost advertisements are often lost or swamped in pages dominated by larger advertisers. When considering any advertising, give plenty of thought as to how much of the coverage area you can actually attract custom from. For example a lone carpet shop in Inverness would be throwing their money away to advertise in The Guardian newspaper. Although you may think this is obvious, even regional publications such as ‘The Press & Journal’ have daily sales figures of less than 75,000 (about 12% of the adult population in the North of Scotland)! When you consider the total coverage area you’ll begin to realise how sparse the actual coverage is. (Source for figures: The Press and Journal Website
Media Radio advertising: Radio advertising, although powerful, can be a deceptive form of advertising for most small businesses. This form of advertising is best suited to companies looking to raise their profile or to advertise immediate impact events such as sales or open days.
Pros: Ideal form of advertising for larger, branded companies. Ideal for ‘immediate impact’ advertising e.g. events and listings Good format for increasing brand awareness Pro-active form of advertising. ‘Incidental viewing’ (i.e. your ad will have some impact, consciously or subconsciously) Cons: Expensive form of advertising. Costs are accumulated (in most cases) on a time slot basis, with peak listening periods costing far more than off-peak. This means that a continued presence is often prohibitively expensive, even for larger companies. Short term life of advertisement, long term campaigns may be prohibitively expensive. Generally, repeat advertising is essential on radio campaigns. Listener figures are only ‘guesstimates’, nobody really knows how many people listen to which stations, or for how long.
Media Community Magazine advertising: Well...I’ll try and be as unbiased as I possible can here. In terms of advertising, community magazines are able to directly address the weaknesses in some of the other mediums. The key selling points are that they offer inexpensive targetted advertising for small and medium sized businesses to the widest possible audience. Pros: Ideal form of advertising for small to medium sized businesses, sole traders and tradespeople. Monthly distribution means that your advertising spend goes further. Breakdown of areas allows you to control your spend geographically. Inexpensive form of advertising. Articles of interest can provide high impact placements for your advertisement. Ideal for ‘immediate impact’ advertising e.g. events and listings 100% coverage through Royal Mail distributions. Guaranteed circulation figures Good format for increasing brand awareness. Pro-active form of advertising. ‘Incidental viewing’ (i.e. your ad will have some impact, consciously or subconsciously) means your business is displayed and seen even if the reader’s interest is for something else on the page. High Quality print process heightens impact of advertisement Low volume of advertisements on each page heightens impact of each advertisement. Cons: Not suitable for national campaigns
Media The Internet: Virtually all of us in business have been told for the last few years that the internet is our greatest opportunity for marketing. While this is undoubtedly true, nothing offers greater potential exposure, there are few smaller businesses that achieve the dizzy heights that the internet promises. In reality, why would a painter and decorator in Elgin want to attract business from clients in Brazil? That said, the internet provides us with one of the cheapest forms of advertising available, and your own website can work for you by providing more detail on your products or services than you could possibly hope to get across via any other form of advertising. Most of the busiest websites for big corporations do just that; fill their websites with virtually all of the information that a customer could need and then advertise the website to make sure people visit! As a lone medium, the internet does not have the answers for most small businesses, but is probably one of the most powerful tools you can have when combined with more traditional advertising. Pros: Ideal form of advertising for virtually any business. Potential of customers numbers is virtually limitless. Very inexpensive form of advertising. Ideal for providing fuller information to your potential customers. Good format for increasing awareness of your services and filtering out â€˜tyre-kickersâ€™. Cons: The main con is making people aware of you own website. In effect you may well need another medium to promote your own web pages and there are obvious expenses involved in this.
DECISION TIME Hopefully we’ve examined and highlighted some of the pros and cons that you’ll need to consider when you come to advertise your business. While this guide is by no means exhaustive (we wanted to keep it simple), it should point out some of the real, common-sense, decisions that you should address when you expect a return from your advertising. There is no panacea for advertising your business - what works for one business may just not cut the mustard for another, but as a general rule, you could do no better than ponder the question ‘How many people will see my advertisement?’. For new businesses, in particular, that feeling that you’re sitting on a major overnight success is irresistible. Try and play it down! Your expectations of response to your advertising campaign cannot possibly live up to that. Take a calm, business minded approach in assessing what you are trying to achieve and on what budget. Overspending and underspending on advertising are both equally dangerous and harmful to the future prosperity of your business. A good start is to ask what you need to make from your business, then how much business you will need to make that amount. From there you need to decide how much you are willing to spend to achieve the figures you want - the two are directly related; If you want to make £100k this year be prepared to spend £10k on advertising! Would you rather settle for £90k because you spent £10k, or £50k because you refused to spend more than £5k? We all know which decision the large firms make, but be realistic about what you can afford to spend - restrict your cashflow at your peril. Good Luck! firstname.lastname@example.org www.spotlighton.co.uk