The Ad Mentors, Inc
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This is by far the most complicated, talked about it, oversold, misunderstood and unproven advertising in the marketplace.
Yet it is the future and as you move into the future you have to know what you are buying; that you are reaching, and how much it should cost, how to track it and how to manage it.
First things first; developing a Website for your business. Contrary to what you may have been told, â€œIF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL NOT JUST COMEâ€.
There are over two billion websites on the Internet. Every person who wants one can build a simple site on Yahoo, Google or any of a hundred thousand providers. It's like putting your handful of sand on a beach and coming back later and asking someone to find it for you.
To be logical here, I recommend you have a Website if you have a business. Let us talk first about your options on websites. Keep in mind a growing segment of our customers use the Web to find information about you and your services so if you have a website it needs to completely tell your story and in a way that motivates the reader to take action or at least creates an image you are happy with. If not they may look at it and decide you are not the business they would buy from. The number one concern I have for my clients is that the human element is removed from this research. You do not get the chance to sell these people in person or by conversation. They may very well make a buying decision based on what they can or can not find out about you via your website or the Internet in general.
You have so many choices regarding your website, selling products, providing information, registering customers, email blasting, streaming video, links to manufacturers, order processing, vendor areas, member areas and many more.
How do I get my website seen, used, monitor its results are all things that need to be addressed.
I want to first address for you getting found and seen.
The single biggest misconception; out there today is the search engine, (Google, Yahoo, Ask.com).
Before you worry about that keep this in mind, you need to advertise your website in the local traditional media you have running, on your business cards, on your sign, in all your brochures and leave behinds. Unless you are a national brand and part of national advertising campaigns, you will not get the traffic you need unless you generate it.
Search Engines will be used by people looking for products or services you offer and or you by name. This is an area I need to warn you against. Most companies (media) will sell you Search Engine Optimization. In order to do this they have to have access to your website and alter the key words and meta tags. If they don't they are selling you air, period.
Searches are done based on text in the first paragraph of your title page. Key words and spiders are inserted here that get you found by whatever you decide you want to be found by. Do not be fooled by Yellow Page companies and others selling this service, it can only be done by changing your websites hidden text.
Another item out there that is sold to beware of is pay to click or advertising on the search page positioning. If your website is designed properly you will come up on the generic searches near the top with no other assistance. Someone who enters your business name in a search is going to get you as long as you have a website. The tricky part starts with key words for your services. Such as tires, jewelry, etc. You do not need to know what black hat, white hat, spiders, meta tags and other technical terms are if you have a competent website builder. National statistics available today tell us that 1 out of 10 click through actually make contact with the place of business. Compared to traditional media this is a low response number. Another key point to make is you are usually reaching the 20 to 35 years old customer. These are not the traditional higher discretionary income consumers. This demographic will change as the population ages and the younger generations enter the buying demographics.
Back to basics, what do you want your website to do?
How much time do you have to manage the website?
Who is going to build it?
These are the questions you need to have answers to before you build it.
I have owned a Website provider and have been involved in building or hosting as many as a million websites for businesses. The key point I have found out there in the market place is; YOU CAN PAY AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO BUILD A WEBSITE.
If you tell someone they that your budget is $10,000 the site will cost $10,000. If you tell them you have $5,000 to spend you will get basically the same site for $5,000. Most companies prey on your lack of knowledge.
The more you do in advance the less your production cost should be. Write down exactly what you want your site to do. What information you want on it, what interaction you need from it, gather graphics and logos together and prepare at least your vision in advance; the cost to produce will drop dramatically. If you send the web builder out searching or have them build something then decide if you like it, will cost dearly.
Website building is a separate expense from hosting.
Hosting is going to be based on how much actual space you take up on a server. Usually measured in megabits (MB) the more you use the more you're monthly hosting will be.
You may also be charged by the traffic you generate. I want you all to think back a few years when Victoria Secret ran its first television special. They literally froze the Internet world wide. They generated so much traffic in such a short time the communications systems could not handle it. Every web site in the world was affected for that time period.
This also demonstrated without question that traditional media drives web traffic.
New technology has been developed to allow for traffic variances. It is called elastic servers and some other names. Amazon.com uses such servers. These are state of the art centers where your site is hosted and managed. The companies that build them spend billions to insure your site and all others will handle the traffic no matter what the volume.
The old way smaller companies would buy hardware (servers) and either have them in their offices or data centers (phone companies and such), these were finite in capability and if the power went out, or traffic was too high, or equipment failed your site was affected. This is becoming less and less the case.
Again you need not know all the technology that drives your website as long as you are dealing with a competent web designer, and hosting company.
Let's deal with Domain Names (URL); this is really an address on the Internet. This to; has become a pool for con artists. People have gone out and literally bought thousands of names they never intend to use but have appeal to others who will. Once they own it they will try and sell them off for big dollars.
Once you have the domain name you need to own it not your web builder. If they own it they have you at a disadvantage if you ever decide you no longer want to use them to host your site. They can charge you fees to move it and in extreme case refuse to let you take the already branded web site elsewhere. So when choosing who you are using insure you have ownership of the URL and the right to take it with you if you leave.
I could spend a whole day on websites and it would be worth your registration fee, but we have much more to cover.
At the end of the day, any one wanting to get more information about this subject, we will be happy to schedule time at your place of business to do so.
The key point to take from this segment is buyer beware there is a lot of useless products sold relative to ONLINE Advertising and you can get caught up in the promise of great return with no evidence to support it.
Let's now talk about banner advertising. Most media companies will offer you the ability to advertise on their website. What they can not offer you is sound proof that anyone is reading or seeing your ads. The real question here is how effective is this vehicle. No one has a real answer at this point. It is more a gamble today than it will be in the years to come. My personal experience tells me I do not look at these. But, if they can provide the traffic, perhaps give you click through data, and monitor the results, you may have an opportunity to achieve some ad goals.
All banner ads should have a click through or hot link to your website (assuming your site is what you want it to be). If you do not have a website I would be less likely to recommend this type of advertising. Statistics so far demonstrate that creating phone traffic from a banner ad is very difficult. If they are on the web they will email you or go to your site for information.
I want to stress that if your goal is Branding I probably would recommend this medium, otherwise the traditional media are better for your business.
Another Online product is ONLINE COUPONS; there are websites that allow you to ad your coupon. What you need to be aware of is some only allow you to use these coupons in an online transaction and you must go to the advertiser website and buy directly from the coupon provider.
Basic Questions you need to ask before deciding how to advertise and what to advertise in:
- Who am I trying to reach, young, old, new to area, home owners, high income or low income, savers or spenders, infrequent customers or regular shopper, existing customers or new customers, Etc.
- What will my message be, years of service, product, awareness, or call to action?
- What vehicle best reaches my target audience?
- Where do I want to draw my target audience from?
- When is the best time to reach my target audience, seasonal, beginning or the end of the month?
- What if any incentive can I use to motivate my target audience.
- What is special about my business that others need to know?
Let's deal with each of these questions:
Who am I trying to reach?
Most businesses struggle with this answer and for good reason, we may have several different targets. They may be driven by season, dollar amount, services offered, change of business strategy, and the economy, new competitors in the market and product line.
For instance; if you own a roofing company and you only do re-roofing jobs, certainly you target market is homes that are 20 years old or more. The money to advertise to newer subdivisions, apartment dwellers, and new construction would be wasted. Thus a broad scope advertising vehicle like television may not be a good fit for you, (unless you have a local channel and live in a town that only has old homes).
Identifying who you are trying to reach with what message is a key to effectively placing your ads in the right media.
Thus, when interviewing a prospective medium (yes you are interviewing them to see if they fit) you must ask who they reach, how many of them, how often and how do they know this. Have them provide you with the proof. If this is not primarily your target then you are spending money to reach people that can not be your customer. You may still want to use them because they reach your market along with others but they should be a small portion of your ad budget.
What will my message be?
The simplest way I can advise you on this is to think you are in a baseball stadium on a loudspeaker and you can tell the crowd five things about your business that you are proud of or offer, then these have to be part of your message.
It is very important to take your ego out of this. The key is to think of what distinguishes you from your competition. Examples of these things could be your experience, your commitment to satisfying your customers, your pricing, your quality, you're easy to find location, etc.
What Vehicle Reaches My Target Audience?
Again the answer to this question is critical in deciding how much to commit and into what medium.
Every sales rep from every ad vehicle will tell you they are the best way to reach your customer. It simply is not true.
An example would be a plumber who does emergency repair. Well if it is 2:00 AM and a pipe bursts under the sink, you are not going to turn on the TV to see if a plumber is advertising 24 hour emergency. The consumer will go to the Yellow Pages and call the first display ad that states â€œ24 Hour Emergency Serviceâ€
So we must research who actually is using the medium proposed and make them prove it. We must know where our customers are going to get the information and deals they want and need.
You have to know who you are trying to reach in order to determine how to reach them, I can not stress this enough.
If you are trying to reach senior citizens, advertising in the local night club magazine probably is not a good investment. However, finding what publications, Television Shows, radio shows, local events seniors attend and use is critical to reaching them.
I am familiar with a bilingual publication in Northwest Indiana that is direct mailed weekly to Hispanic Homes in an area where the populous of Hispanics is 40% of the residents. They spend 700 million dollars a year in the small area in daily goods and services and the only way you can reach those that do not speak English is to advertise in this publication. There is no local Spanish TV station, no other newspaper, no local radio that target this demographic. If you want that group you must advertise in this publication.
The point is, knowing who your target, how to reach them and what to say.
Where Do I Want To Draw My Target Audience From?
This question is about knowledge in terms of geography where your customers are and how to get to them.
If you are after high income consumers, advertising to low income areas does not make sense. If you are trying to reach college students advertising to Senior Citizens Communities can not reach your goal.
If you are trying to get more customers from a neighboring suburb; then target advertising that reaches that suburb. Look for local publications, shows, Chamber of Commerce and charitable events in that area. Go network in that area.
You can buy lists that target your exact demographic (no list is perfect you will find flaws)
When Is The Best Time To Reach My Targeted Audience?
This question is complex yet simple. If you are a retail store you know your trends. Your options become, do I want to stimulate business in the off periods or make the busy times better.
If you are in a resort town, how do you reach those that live their year round and those that will be there before they arrive?
If you are seasonal what do you say and when to get the season off to a great start?
If your product line is targeted to times in the year know what you are selling and when to advertise it. During the season, before, after.
This process for the answer to your business may seem basic, but many times we miss the real time to advertise and end up on the tail end. Pre-plan this event and the timing of your advertising to support it.
Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors have two basic pre-sales opportunities. Spring and fall, heat or air conditioning service, these lead to a volume of calls for tune ups and filter changes that in turn lead to repair jobs, which in turn lead to installation and replacement jobs.
What incentives can I Offer to motivate my customers to act?
Okay here is parity. Assume you are a Cadillac Dealer and you print and mail 1000 coupons giving away a free Cadillac I guaranty you will get 1000 coupons back. On the other hand if you offer $5.00 off a Cadillac I guaranty you will get zero coupons returned. In order for an incentive to work it must be worth the time for the consumer to make the call or visit.
Now; what you do not want to hear. I suggest you make it an offer that loses money or â€œblows away the competitionâ€. The job of the offer is to get the consumer in the door.
To clarify, your job once they are in is to assess the real needs of the customer and convert as many as possible of them onto either a long-term customer or a higher sale on that visit.
I can cite numerous arguments I have had with clients who complain that they can not afford to make a suggested offer because they will lose money. This is shortsighted thinking; if you have a trained staff, show real concern for the needs of the customer and convert them into regular customers what are they worth over the life of the relationship.
Let me give you an example:
You own a restaurant, you offer a two for one meal incentive and one new customer walks in. You give him your best service and he loves your food. He now becomes a regular once a week at your restaurant for lunch.
You charge $10.00 for an average lunch and almost always people do not eat alone.
So your offer that cost you about $4.00 in food cost and $2.00 of additional out of pocket cost now has generated a new customer worth $20.00 per week for 52 weeks or $1040.00 each and every year you have this customer. What if they end up having parties or bringing in 6 people once in a while, or use you to cater an event.
You get the drift here. One customer if you do your job has a far greater value than what it cost you to get them in..
You will of course have those shoppers who take advantage, so what; you need only one good one.
What if you get 20 new customers, a hundred?
Remember the job of the incentive is to get them in, your job is to convert them. Even if you get a small volume back in, work to make them regulars.
What is special about my business that others need to know?
Do I need to delve into this? What makes you better than the dozens of others who do what you do? Is it your warranties, your experience, your product line, you, your people, your service, your national brands?
It is imperative you convey this message in your advertising. I can not stress this enough. Why should I use you, what would you tell me one on one.
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Advertising in a recession is always a challenge. In these difficult times the knee jerk reaction is to draw back, cut your expenses and ride it out. This may be the worst thing you can do.
History has proven in each and every recession, the businesses who advertise heavily not only mailtain market share during the recession but actually grow market share. And when the recovery starts they tend to keep the increased customer base.
No doubt you should advertise more cautiously, create better ad copy, and select the proper medium.
By trying to reach more customers, servicing the ones you have better and following up more effectively you can actually grow your revenue while others fade away.
Using the new tools available like Online banners, Search Engine Optimzers, Online Video commercial are a great and inexpensive way to get your business noticed.
Using professionals in the long run probably will generate more money than they may cost you in spades.
So while your competitors are pulling back, remember the opportunity to grow your business is never better.
If we can be of help fell free to contact us at