Thursday, October 6, 2011

How To Avoid Advertising Mistakes

It seems there is no shortage of advertising experts willingly to charge you big bucks for their advice. However, it is difficult to gage the quality of their advice and if it is worth the money you pay. The fact is that while some of their recommendations can help your business, it is also true that their advice may cause mistakes that can adversely affect your business.

Here is a list of advertising rules for small businesses:

Hire the Right Consultant
If you need to hire a consultant, be sure to check references. Find someone who is already working with a friend or colleague. Trustworthiness, integrity and intelligence can be hard, but not impossible, to find. Also, verify that the agency has helped organizations similar to yours.

Don’t Skimp on the Ad Space
Don't waste money buying space ads too small to convey your story. Buy adequate space and save money by running it less often. One exception: if your product has a strong visual, then you can get along with smaller space. If you are creative, you can use one picture to get your message across to your audience.

Have a Website and Online Presence

The website is the new form of a business card. If you don’t have a website you aren’t viewed as a legitimate business. Today, a website is an invaluable marketing tool as a source of information; like a yellow pages-listing with benefits. If customers or prospects can't go online at their leisure and check out your business, what you sell, your location your phone number, then they are not going to buy from you. You don't have to have a complicated website. For new start-ups a simple website with basic information and an email address will be adequate.

Capture and Use Customer Information
You need to collect customer's contact information and set it up for email and direct mail. This approach can provide significant opportunities for low-cost or no-cost sales. In addition to generating direct sales, this information allows you to keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis.

Effectively Communicate with Customers
Are you emailing your customers regularly but not including a money-saving offer? If you are, then you may be wasting their time and yours. Never send an email to a customer that doesn't have a special offer. Also, making your e-mail time sensitive will make it more compelling.

Manage Customer Relationships
Getting customers is expensive. You don't know what you can afford to pay for a customer if you don't know how much revenue you can expect each customer to generate over their lifetime with you. This number, called the "LTV" (lifetime value), should be recalculated over time. You should know how many times a customer will buy from you and what their average expenditure with your business will be. Then you can establish a realistic budget to bring in customers and still make a profit.

Strong Consistent Branding
Branding means selecting a logo, color scheme, type of font, tag line, overall look and other features that remain the same no matter what communication goes out from your company. Whether it's a TV commercial, newspaper ad, email communication or just a letter — every communication must uphold the image of your brand. This consistency creates awareness of your company, your products and your services. Company owners who keep changing the look of the company, the product, advertising and marketing, often confuse potential customers. Just because you're not a Fortune 500 company doesn't mean you should ignore branding. Be completely rigid about branding. Insist on using it for every communication. You will make all your efforts work together toward brand recognition and increased sales.

Effective Advertising Needs to Be More Than Creative, It Must Produce Positive Results
Ad agencies get discouraged with clients who listen to their well-thought out, targeted, tightly written copy only to say, "Yes, that's good, but my friend says we should say...” Agencies stop doing their best when business owners ignore their advice and instead use copy tossed off by random friends and family members. Everyone thinks he can write copy, but that’s not true. Find a top-notch copywriter you trust and stick with his or her copy. Don't lose sight of the fact that creative ads still must generate positive and measurable results; don’t turn your ad campaign into an art project.

Word-of-Mouth Is Good, but It Is Rarely Enough
Word-of-mouth is great. It makes unheard of movies hits, it makes unknown actors stars. But you can't control word-of-mouth and during difficult economic times, word-of-mouth tends to be less effective. Advertising is the best way to get the word out the way you want it, when you want it:, about your company, products and services. Even if you can't afford a big budget, some advertising is better than none.

For assistance with your marketing campaign, please attend our workshops and make an appointment to work with one of our SBDC consultants (760-795-8740).

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