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.
One of the most influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice, American Peter Drucker, once said that “great business is made up of only marketing and innovation”. However, many SME’s, see marketing as no more than an add-on function that can be dropped when things aren’t going so well.
The extent to which marketing is misunderstood and undervalued by the manufacturing and industrial sectors is demonstrated by the fact that many, if not most, small businesses, combine the roles of marketing and sales in the shape of a Sales & Marketing Manager/Director; A position which is in fact at odds with itself.
The marketing function, if done correctly, is to focus the business on meeting the needs of its target customers, on the other hand, sales are trying to get the customer to match the product they are selling. Put another way, sales does one function within the business, whereas marketing should have an influence on every area.
· Developing the products that solves customers problems
· Ensuring the correct pricing strategy is adopted
· Making sure the products are readily where and when customers want them
· Establishing a customer support service before, during and after sales
· Promoting the product in a way that convinces the customer that it is not only the preferred choice, but is in fact, the only choice.
The first four bullets above come under what is known as ‘Upstream Marketing’, a process which asks fundamental questions of a business. Which markets does the business want to work in, how much of those markets are available to us, which products does the market need, what features, price, experience etc. and what will give us a competitive edge? The questions that make the difference between success and failure or at least mediocrity.
As we emerge from recession there is a case for saying that competitive advantage should be the main topic of conversation in any boardroom and giving marketing its key role is the way to make this happen.
But what about resources? How much should you invest in marketing?
Please note that I say marketing not advertising
As a percentage of revenue, recent surveys suggest that packaged goods spend between 4% - 10%, retail 2% - 5%, car manufacturers 2% - 3.5% and professional services at the top with at least 15%. In comparison, many SME’s spend barely 1%. This lack of investment kills any chance of creating that all important competitive edge.
The question SME owners will ask is “what will be my return on investment”? That of course depends on the strength of your commitment. However, a better question would be; In five years’ time, where will you be in relation to the competition if you continue to treat marketing as an add-on that can be dropped whenever costs need cutting?
David Hassell DLH Marketing
If you keep your staff happy, they will keep your customers happy and your customers will come back, making you happy.
Are you struggling to find your ideal customer?
To begin with, particularly if you are a start-up or small business, you need to consider who your ideal customer is.
I wonder how many of you created a Buyer Profile before you started trading? A profile that looked at demographics, the key problems encountered and identifiers that make your ideal customer look at your product or service.
Once that’s done you need to think how to can reach them and more buyers like them.
This is an area where many businesses fall down. I have worked with so many organisations who make assumptions about where to find these buyers but that’s what they are, assumptions. You must take the time and do the research that will confirm or deny their accuracy.
If you want to reach your ideal customer you need to know where they spend their time, both real and virtual.
Are they reading industry blogs or news sites, is it the type of industry that likes printed material or digital, are they likely to read newsletters , or do they attend networking groups, trade shows or local association meetings?
To find out, survey your current and past clients, don’t be afraid to ask them – it shows that getting it right is important to you.
Hopefully, you will see a pattern emerge with several of your best clients giving the same responses. You can use this to help get your message right where it needs to be.
It doesn’t matter how strong your USP is or how powerful your value proposition, if the message isn’t reaching the right people your whistling in the wind.
Take some time and think about:
Have you surveyed your current and past clients to create a Buyer Profile?
Do you know if your marketing is being seen by your ideal clients?
If you’re looking for help to get this done give me a call or email.
You have spent time, energy and resources to win a new customer, now you have to manage them.
The process from lead to winning the customer will have involved a group of people responsible for budgets, influencing and decision making. It’s highly likely that now a new group of characters will emerge, these may include production control, cost centre managers and product/service users.
Not having been involved in the negotiations, this new group will include people who know very little about your company, product or service benefits and will need educating. There will, therefore, be a need for relationship building activities to be developed if you are to secure customer loyalty and retention.
Many organisations see this ongoing management as a responsibility of the sales team but is this really the best use of their talents?
The goal of sales is to increase customer revenue. If they are split between revenue building and customer loyalty building you will be losing on both counts. By using marketing to develop a communication programme that delivers relevant, value based messages to the various individuals you will increase retention. Loyalty is a very personal emotion and the key motive of this strategy is to communicate and create the feeling of a real reationship with your company and not with a sales person who may leave over time.
You gain in two key areas. Your sales team are free to develop new opportunities both within the customer organisation and outside and you benefit from increased customer satisfaction. Not only are customer staff receiving relevant information but those who don’t need to are not being required to see sales people unless they wish to.
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.