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.
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.
Small organisations in particular are often reluctant to channel some of their limited resources to Market Research or focus groups when we all know that market research is essential to any business. Only by offering products or services that are focussed and targeted to your customer’s needs will you be successful. Only by knowing how your present customers feel can you prevent client ‘drop-off’ and only by knowing how your employees feel can you maintain a productive workforce.
A business decision that is based on knowledge will reduce risk and pay dividends so it’s important that market research becomes an ongoing business process rather than an occasional exercise. By conducting market research throughout the life of a product or service your planning will be focussed and proactive rather than chaotic and reactive.
Even before you start a business, market research is essential to tell you if there will be a demand for your product or service. This will not only help you decide whether to go ahead with the business, but it will provide the information you need to work out if there will be the volume needed to make the business worthwhile. This is important information when drawing up a business plan for potential investors.
We are in an age where poor customer service can be instantly shared. By asking your customer the right questions you not only show that you care but you also take the guess work out of customer services. Market research will improve the way you communicate. Listening to your customers experiences you will be able to gauge how well you meet their expectations and be fully aware of the areas you’re getting right and those where you are failing.
Good market research will help you work out who your customers are, their average age, gender, income, occupation. If your customers are other businesses, the research will help you work out how big they are, who their customers are and who makes the purchasing decisions. This is not always the buyer so you need to be able to tailor your message to the right person.
Market research is an ongoing process, something everyone in the organisation is aware of whether in a general sense or product/service specific. Please don’t fail because ‘you didn’t know’.
David Hassell – DLH Marketing
A marketing strategy based around your customers is vital for any organisation, large, small, private or public. Marketing begins and ends with your customers, so throughout your planning their needs should be the focus of your thinking.
Here are 4 basic steps that will help you to build a strong strategy.:
1. Set goals
Decide what factors your company needs to succeed and set quantifiable goals. Do you need more leads? Are you looking for increased sales? Do you want to promote a specific product or service? Are you looking at developing new markets.
2. Define your offer
Who are you? What are you offering? Clearly define what the company, product or service has to offer, what are the benefits you are providing, and what makes you different from your competition.
3. Define and understand your target audience
Who will use your product? Who will benefit from your service? It may be that your customers fall into a few different segments or categories. Each category will have its own unique set of priorities. Understanding how these priorities affects the purchasing decision is vital to your success.
4. Measure your success
Finally, it’s important to measure the success of your campaign. You should be able to measure results against the goals you’ve set. If your marketing is not bringing in the results, it may be time to change tactics. Have there been changes to the market situation either socially, economically or competitively? Monitoring the success or failure will enable you to react quickly to these changes However, if you are seeing positive results, it’s confirmation that you’re doing something right.
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.