In the digital age, there is a perception that if you put your business offering up on Facebook or other social media, that’s enough. While social media is an important part of getting your customer’s attention, it is only part of the mix. Although it is “free” in the sense that posting doesn’t cost you much more than time, it is transitory at best and the number of people who will see that post is based largely on who’s on line at any given time.
The rule of thumb for ad space purchases is to budget 10 percent of your annual income to advertising. In a small town, that generally means radio and newspaper. It does not include charity or support giving to various school and community publications asking you to “buy an ad.” Advertising is any medium intended to reach the greatest number of people in which you include a call to action.
Many advertising surveys indicate consumers respond more readily to print – whether it be magazines or newspapers – or through direct mail – than to digital media. One report stated that 79 percent of readers are more likely to respond to print ads than e-mailed or digital sales pitches. Digital media will argue that is changing, and perhaps it is. The magic bullet of digital advertising is more difficult to measure.
My favorite explanation for effective advertising (Sales vs Marketing) –
Sales: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “To Dallas.”
Marketing: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “I want to get to Mom’s for Christmas.”
Your sales pitch is your goal. Marketing is knowing how to reach that goal by understanding the marketplace and your customer.
Print continues to be an important platform for getting your message out, but as the fellow going to Dallas figured out, tugging at the heartstrings of his audience was more important than saying outright what he wanted.
What works for you will depend on your expected outcome. A caution here, avoid buying advertising with the flawed expectation that one ad is going to result in customers flocking to your door in mass.
If you are selling furniture and your one page $2,000 full-color ad nets one sale of $500, you haven’t wasted your money, but perhaps you haven’t made best use of the space. Your goal is to make the ad as appealing as possible to assure you get enough sales to at the very least cover your cost. Five $500 sales would more than do it. The point is, manage your expectations. Know your reach. Understand your market.
Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to run an ad that lets folks know you are now serving T-Bone steaks. Which of these two ads is more likely to work?
Ad 1 with address prominently displayed with a small picture of a T-Bone Steak and in small print “NOW SERVING T-BONE STEAKS,” is okay. You will likely get customers out of it, but the reality is the message has been lost.
Ad 2 with a grilling T-Bone steak prominently displayed, coupled with a 10% discount gives the buyer incentive to show up, ad in hand. It serves two purposes: getting customers in the door and being able to track the effectiveness of the ad.
If you spend $150 to $175 for the ad and the meal price is $25, you could easily sell 10 meals including the discount, and more than cover the cost of the ad.
Sometimes your goal is to let customers know who you are and where you are. The bonus is sales; the message is where to find you.
Advertising serves many purposes. While word-of-mouth has its place, advertising specific offerings provides updated information, provides actionable offers, and expands a business’ customer base.
As a business person, you likely know on day one of a new year what you hope to achieve in the next 12 months. Make planning for your advertising as important as planning for paying your employees, even if the employee is the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Advertising is as much of an investment as the fixtures in your store. Let it work for you and it will pay off.
These links lead to a series of ads that will inspire you to think more creatively about ad space purchases.
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