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As a small business owner, you may find yourself continually looking to get more feedback about what marketing efforts are working. This week, I'll discuss the Perils of Print Advertising and ways to evaluate if your print ads are working for your business.
REDUNDANCY: A good first step is to avoid the biggest advertising mistake any small business can make, and that is to run an ad once. A beautiful ad may catch a few eyes but will likely not yield many results. A good rule of thumb is to plan on running ads consistently over 4-6 weeks, depending on the frequency of a publication. Consistent marketing gets customers familiar with your brand and your message and will develop confidence that you run a real business with real value to them. These days, customers are hesitant to jump on board with a new business or product. Make them feel confident in you by offering consistency.
CONSISTENCY: Make your ads look alike and slightly change the message or offer, if appropriate. Let them be recognizable throughout several publications as belonging to the same company. No one is going to avoid your company because their ad looks similar to the one last week. No one. Also consider asking the editor if you can have an ad appear in a certain place over the course of your campaign so people get familiar with where to find your ad.
COMPELLING: Offer something tangible in return for their business. Percent-off deals rarely work unless you're giving away the farm or dealing with existing customers. Readers who are not familiar with your company may be left wondering, "25% off of what?" rather than looking for the car keys to come visit your storefront. Ask yourself if your ad reader would respond, "Now THAT'S a great deal!" Instead of money savings, consider bundling less popular items for free with the purchase of more popular items or setting a fixed price for a recognizable service. A $5 oil change would have me in a lot faster than 25% off your next oil purchase.
AVOID OVERLAP: Sometimes small businesses will go on an advertising blitz and will often shoot an entire budget within a short span of time. If your service or product is time specific or limited, this may be appropriate but often you just buy yourself a little recognition but rarely get the traffic through your door. If you run print ads in more than one publication, don't make the same offer in the same place and ask that they bring a coupon or the ad with them. By having the tangible ad, you'll get immediate confirmation of where your marketing dollars are paying off. Also use the time wisely when a customer brings in an ad. If you don't recognize this customer, ask them if this is the first time they have been in. Start a conversation and learn if the customer had heard of you before or if the ad brought them in. Most customers are happy to have a conversation with you.
LOCAL ADVERTISING: Whenever you have the chance to buy an ad in a school publication, a local menu, a charity event, or even a discount card program, DO IT! These items generally are used for far longer than any newspaper and are generally much more affordable. The best way to capitalize on this is to have a business card prepared with advertising in mind. Don't worry about whose name is on the card or what their title is. You must have your logo, address, short description of your business, contact information and tag line. You can hand these to whoever is selling a local ad and they generally will use the card as is, saving you design and layout fees and maintaining your branding. You can also have this design printed cost effectively online and use these to handout at networking events. Remember, don't ever get the back side of your business card printed on or with a gloss coating because then you can't write on it!
BE PREPARED: Take this opportunity to get your marketing ducks in a row and decide how you're going to proceed through 2010. Start now with a new business card design for advertising and networking purposes that will reproduce well in black and white and look great in full color.
Need help? Set your budget and run a design contest today with Prova | Advertising and get your networking business card ready for action! For more information on running your own design contest, visit prova.fm.
If you have questions, please feel free to ask. If I don't know the answer, I'll find it.
NEXT BLOG: ONLINE ADVERTISING
- Jeannie Nash
The holidays are a natural time for small business owners to turn their energies towards their families and their business often suffers a bit of benign neglect. Retail businesses spend most of their moments trying to capture as much of the elusive holiday spending as possible while service businesses often enjoy the quiet lull in preparation for the festivities. After the holidays is the perfect time to regroup both personally and professionally, look back over the past year and evaluate your successes and failures, and plan for a successful year to come.
2010 offers a continuation of many of the same challenges from 2009 and managing finances tightly will still remain key to the ultimate success for small businesses. Businesses need to give the impression that they are thriving in this market, despite the obvious decrease in discretionary spending. Now is the time to look over your marketing materials and take stock of your current state. Ask yourself the following questions:
1) What marketing is working for your business? Is it networking personally? Is it word-of-mouth? Is it having an outstanding product? Find your strengths and focus on those. Now is the time to take an honest look at your marketing materials and get them in better shape.
2) Are you using a logo to reinforce your brand? If so, does it convey an image about your business or product that inspires people to have confidence in your business? If not, budget some money to revamp your business image. Look for a logo that has a limited number of colors and gradients (colors that blend into each other) if you plan on doing embroidery (uniforms, give-aways) as those are harder to reproduce. Look for clean lines that will work well when printed and be easily recognizable. Avoid using clipart. Clipart looks like clipart for a good reason, it is! Hire a professional designer to put together a logo that inspires you. If funds are limited, consider running a contest through Prova Advertising, and set your own budget. You'll see the logos and get to decide what you like before choosing a winner and paying the contest award.
3) Is advertising working? If you run ads in more traditional medium such as a local newspaper or the yellow pages, it may be more difficult to know where your ads are having an impact. Consider running a coupon, if appropriate, in one publication only to see how much traffic you get from that one. Remember, it generally takes about 4-6 appearances of an ad to start showing any impact. Don't get caught in the trap of thinking you can run one ad and your phone will ring off the hook. It often does not work that way.
4) Are you using social media? If you think Facebook is just for kids, you're wrong and you're missing out on a potentially critical section of your advertising. If you don't know anything about Facebook or Twitter, consider hiring a social media specialist to create a strategy. Be sure you find an expert who does this for small businesses. Social networking sites are one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach your customer base.
No matter what type of business you have, now is the time to fine-tune your strategies for the upcoming year to make sure your business survives to ring in 2011. It's going to be a tough year but by organizing now and preparing for the challenge, your business will have the best chance of success.
- Jeannie Nash