A guide for small businesses and others
Despite the onward march of digital marketing there is still an important place for print advertising, particularly for small local businesses. Well at least there appears to be judging by the number of monthly and bi monthly local business directories that come through my letterbox. However, judging by what these directories contain I wonder about the effectiveness of many ads and actual return on investment for many companies.
Recently out of 43 ads there were only 3 that actually had something to say so here are my top 8 tips for small local businesses to consider when thinking about placing a print advertisement or producing a flyer.
1. Think AIDA. Your advertisement should attract Attention, it should then provoke Interest, leading to a Desire to want the product/service and provide the means for the customer to take Action
2. Your headline is important. To be effective you need to know your customer. You are an A1 roofing company, so what? There are several others out there. What problem are you solving for the customer and what makes you different. Decide on one key element that will stand out.
3. Hopefully your headline has grabbed the reader’s attention, now the first paragraph must create interest. This can be done by keeping it short and using something like a surprising statement, a news item or simple story. Just make sure it's related to the headline.
4. Now for desire. The body copy should not talk about you, instead talk about the customer. State the benefits clearly and show why you are different to your competitors. Talk in the language of the reader – no jargon – and emphasise things like No Obligation and Free. If you're advertising an offer, try to create a sense of urgency by setting a response deadline.
5. Hopefully by now the reader is interested enough to take action. Make it is easy for them. Don’t be afraid to tell them what to do and make sure the contact details are clear and any email addresses are working.
6. Keep the layout clean and easy to follow. If you are using images Please Please Please don’t use photographs that have been stretched or shrunk to fit; unless of course you want to be seen as a cowboy business. There are lots of free image editor software packages around so there’s no excuse.
7. Include a reference code. I have seen businesses use the same ad in several publications without any identifiers so how they can tell which magazine is working for them I don’t know. The reference code can be included in coupons or asked to be quoted when calling or emailing.
8. Finally, don’t be afraid to test different advertisements to see which works best. If you are using 2 directories to the same area then use 2 different adverts. You may be surprised.
If you need any help or advice please give me a call.
The good news is that UK small businesses and organisations are now realising the significance of social media. The bad news is that many register with as many platforms as they know without really knowing what to do next. Not planning in advance can lead to lots of wasted time and disillusionment in the whole process. Social marketing is not an overnight success. It’s like any networking – it takes time, it’s about relationships.
Planning is as important as in any business process, so I’ve put together a straightforward 8 step guide that will help you get started.
1) Sit down with your team and decide what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase the number of newsletter or brochure sign ups or maybe become better known for a particular product/service?
2) Research your customers and potential customers. Are they active on social media? What are they looking at? What do they want to know? If you can’t find out ask them
3) Once you know where your customers are you can decide the most suitable social platforms to use to speak to them
4) If you don’t already have one, create and use a company blog. This will form the core that will drive all your other communication
5) Once you’re up and ready spend time listening (or reading) doesn’t just dive in. Gradually build your network and start building relationships
6) Ok, you’ve spent some time listening to what people are saying now you can start to add your comments. Look at what’s being said in groups related to your market and add your voice
7) Start to post your own content. This can be a mixture of original material or sharing content from other people that you think your network will find interesting. Where possible help people
8) Monitor and measure. Most social platform have their own analytics plus there are some free ad-ons you can use before moving to more sophisticated paid ones. The beauty of social media is that you can see it working.
The biggest trap to avoid is overtly selling. I see lots and lots of posts that are pure and simply direct selling. The clue is in the name, SOCIAL media. Today people dislike being sold to. Everyone does some research first and always deal with people they trust. Social media is a means to gain that trust and to make sure that when someone is looking to buy a widget, your widgets are already implanted in their mind.
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.