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Marketing Tips

Elements of an Effective Ad

  1. Eye catcher: Most people see ads when they are reading a story in a paper. Your ad must jump out at them and catch their attention if they are going to read it. A company logo or graphic can be that attention getter, but only if people recognize it. It can be difficult and expensive to create a logo that sticks in peoples' minds and tells them what you sell, and most small businesses cannot afford to make that kind of investment. What they can do however, is say what they have to sell in a tag line plus have a photo of yourself or your staff. This may be just what you need. Remember-people buy from people.
  2. Head/Tag line: Clearly communicates what is being sold
  3. Reliability: credibility is a valuable, uncommon commodity. Stating that your business has been serving the community for 36 years says a lot about your business, about your credibility.
  4. Name brands: Many people look for particular brands, e.g. Whirlpool, GE, Toyota, Panasonic. Make sure you tell them you have what they are looking for.
  5. One Message: Stick to one message. Ads with multiple messages rarely get read. Don't waste your money by cluttering up your ad with multiple messages. Those ads won't work.
  6. Contact Info:
    1. Be sure to include your phone number, address and website address.
    2. People are conditioned to look for contact information at the bottom of the ad. To make it easy for readers to find it, make sure that's where yours is located.
  7. Color Matters: Colorful ads attract attention and that's what ads need. Most ads in newspapers aren't in color, therefore the ones that are, stand out.
  8. Readability: The ad must be easily read or it won't be read at all. Here's a couple of tips:
    1. Avoid using more than three different fonts if possible. Our brains have to keep switching gears with each font. Let's not tax our readers.
    2.  Have breathing room around your text and graphics. This is called White Space. If you absolutely need all the text and graphics in an ad and it is crowded, you need a larger ad. Don't crowd your ad. A crowded ad is difficult to read. A difficult to read ad doesn't get read, and an ad that doesn't get read won't produce business for you.

Readership is Everything

How do you determine if a publication is well read?

  • If a company prints and distributes 15,000 papers it doesn't mean they have that many readers. If only 5,000 papers get picked up, that's how many readers they have. Don't let publishing companies tell you that readership is some multiple of the papers distributed. Assume 1 reader per picked up paper. Ask your sales professional from the paper for information in writing stating how many papers are picked up.
  • How a paper is distributed is important as well. Remember, we're trying to figure out how many people actually read the particular paper. If it is a paid paper and it gets mailed to those who have a subscription, that is good. Folks are paying for the paper and have asked for it to be delivered to their home, so they are likely to read it. However, if it is a free paper and is mailed, that may not be so good. How would you know how many people want the paper and thus read it? You wouldn't. Nobody asked for it! Most of them may get thrown away with the other "junk mail". It's just too risky to invest in advertising with a paper that does that. If the paper is free and is distributed in stores and if the paper keeps track of how many get picked up, then that is good. If they get picked up, then people want them and if they want them, then they'll read them. The advertiser knows how many people are reading it. And READERSHIP IS EVERYTHING!

Reasons to Advertise

  • Whether we like it or not, advertising profoundly influences buying decisions. We should love this fact because it offers us a powerful tool to increase our sales if we do it properly. Pepsi, Coke, McDonalds, Home Depot, Walmart, Sears, Starbucks, Target, etc. etc. etc. are all incredibly successful businesses in part because they spend lots of money to tell us who they are and what they have to offer over and over again. They have lots of money because they spend it reminding us of their message. They don't spend it because they have it. And this does not only pertain to these national corporations. Many of our local businesses do very well also because they advertise appropriately. It is essential for business owners and managers to understand this causal relationship.
  • Getting new customers: No matter how long you have been around, not everybody knows who you are, not even close. People move in to the area every year and they don't know who you are. Some your customers move away every year. Some of your customers die every year. We need new customers not just to grow, but to combat the natural attrition that takes place in every town and region.
  • Reminding your existing customers that you are still here.
    • Many of your customers are willing to shop elsewhere. Many of them already do and you only get some of their business. You advertise to get as much of their business as possible and allow as little as possible to go to your competitors. Advertising helps you get more of the spending dollars of your existing customers.
    • People don't always go to the same store to buy paint.
    • People don't always go to the same store to buy clothes.
    • People don't always go to the same store to buy hardware, greeting cards, appliances, electronics, jewelry, etc.

Tracking Your Advertising

THE BAD NEWS:

"Anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable."

Have you ever heard how 10 people could see an accident and offer 10 different versions of how it happened?

People do not remember reliably where they have seen an advertisement.

THE GOOD NEWS:

It's not just a crap shoot.

*** The way you know if you are getting a good response to your advertising is if:

  1. you are in a good publication (readership, pub style, pagination & placement).
  2. you have an effective ad in that publication.
  3. you have a product that people wish to pay for.

Readership: How do you determine if a pub is well read?

  • If a company prints and distributes 15,000 papers it doesn't mean they have that many readers. If only 5,000 papers get picked up, that's how many readers they have. Don't let publishing companies tell you that readership is some multiple of the papers distributed. Assume 1 reader per picked up paper. Ask your sales professional from the paper for information in writing how many papers are picked up.
  • How a paper is distributed is important as well. Remember, we're trying to figure out how many people actually read the particular paper. If it is a paid paper and it gets mailed to those who have a subscription, that is good. However, if it is a free paper and is mailed, that may not be so good. How would you know how many people want the paper and thus read it? If it is free and is distributed in racks in stores and if the paper knows how many get picked up, then that is good too.

Pagination: This refers to how a pub is laid out, put together. Try to envision what it is like for a reader. Is it virtually impossible to read an story and miss the advertisers on the page? Or is it easy to not see the ads. It takes a lot of thought and a lot of effort to get the right result. But it is well worth it because advertisers get a much better response when it is done properly. Having the pages of stories segregated from the pages of ads is not helpful to the advertisers.

Page Size: Some are larger than others and therefore more cumbersome. This doesn't mean they won't get read. However, a) people prefer a smaller sized page, and b) readers are more likely to see the ads on a smaller sized page. Imagine reading a large page. You fold it over and over until you have the story, perhaps only the story in front of you. Contrast this style with a smaller format where people just turn the pages from right to left. When they see a story they wish to read, they just read it, and if ads are on the page they cannot be avoided.

Ad Placement

Once you've determined that a publication is a good one to be in and you've determined the ad, then you need to think about placement. Ask the representative of the paper what premium spots are available and why they are considered premium spots. You'll also want to know what the additional cost will be to be in that spot. If you're convinced that it makes sense, then do it.