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.
Let me first say I am not a photographer (apart from some amateur stuff) and I am not associated with a photographer. However, as a marketer, I am concerned with image and perception. It's for those reasons that I always advise clients to use a professional photographer rather Jim the enthusiastic amateur in accounts. Using a professional doesn't have to cost thousands, but it will probably save thousands in lost revenue.
To illustrate the point, let’s take something we are all familiar with – the take away and fast food menu. We’ve all seen it, whether pushed through your letterbox or above the counter at your local take away. Poorly lit, out of focus pictures of plates of food meant to entice you, when in fact they are more likely to make you question the reason you walked through the door. Then you have the photos taped to the window showing you the deal of the day which is printed on a piece of white paper, fresh off the inkjet printer in the back office, and seems to be one cartridge short of full colour. These are obvious attempts by the owner or manager to save money but the product, i.e. the food, ends up looking totally unappetising with the result probably being lost custom.
The same is true whatever product you sell. Look cheap and expect customers who haggle, portray quality and expect customers who value quality. It’s no coincidence that Rolls Royce and Bentley never leave photography of their cars to chance.
Going back to fast food, take a look at how one of the market leaders, McDonald’s, makes sure you expect the best in fast food.
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.