As a marketing consultant I constantly get asked the question....should I advertise in TV, radio, in this publication and that. Today there are so many options on where businesses can advertise that it can truly overwhelm businesses. Some businesses have large ad budgets so they can risk throwing money at multiple avenues, but for small business owners one wrong advertising decision can mean creating very thin margins and the stress of paying bills. Over the years my solution to this problem is two-fold. Here is the process I guide my clients and my own business through on a regular basis.
1. Do Your Homework
Businesses are constantly asked to advertise, especially new businesses. When I worked at a boutique hotel right out of college it seemed as if every advertising avenue knew I was new in town. Within a month of starting I was approached by almost every publication in town...the Tulsa World, Tulsa People Magazine, Oklahoma Magazine, Brides of Oklahoma, and various others. Every single publication wanted to show me their reach and all of their stats, which to a non-marketer looks appealing. But you must take a look at each publication and ask yourself if your target market is within the advertisers target market. The point of advertising is reaching customers who align with your business which is why choosing correctly is key.
The main element that helps solidify if you should advertise with a certain company is checking with their current customers. Look to see if there are companies in your same industry within the publication....next pick up the phone and start calling some of the companies already advertising with them. Ask these companies if they have seen increased exposure and customers in their business since advertising with the company. If they say they cannot tell, then odds are that it is not worth it to have a presence in that company.
Another few items to think about....advertisers will always puff up their stats to get you to buy on the spot. Don't be swayed by numbers but take your time to do your homework to see if it is a right fit. Another pitfall many places try to catch companies in is social media. Many will say that they will promote you on social media and use their large following base to impress you. Again...DO YOUR HOMEWORK....they may have a large following but look to see how they are promoting their current advertisers. As many of us know just one post a month will not reach all of their followers. There are many factors that go into getting the most exposure you can out of social media but advertisers that throw social media around as a huge perk to advertising is all smoke and mirrors...do not be deceived.
2. Track, Track, Track
If you decide that there is an advertisement avenue that fits your needs and is a good fit for your target market, the next thing you MUST do is track your ad. Simply having an ad is not enough if you have no way to track the tangible results of the ad. Examples of this include a special promotion that you are only running in that publication, such as free coffee with purchase of x. You can have keywords in your ad that customers can say at checkout and then your employees can track how many people are redeeming your ad. Another clever way you can track information is having a phone number on the ad that is used only for that ad (you can easily get a free Google Voice number and use that so you can track how many calls you receive).
This may sound like a post against most traditional advertising, but I assure you it is not. In my experience though many advertisers are just trying to make their sales numbers and do not really have a heart for helping your business. It is because of this that I implore you to proceed with caution if you are planning on advertising. You always want to choose the marketing options that are going to give you the best ROI...it may take time but if you use these suggestions you will be prepared to find the right advertisers to help your business.
If you would like business counsel on advertising and your current marketing strategy, give me a call. Click the “Contact Us Now” button or call the number at the bottom of the screen to get started. If you would like a sample of the ideas we could generate to help your business, click here for a free digital marketing report, custom-made for your company. Even if you are not in Tulsa, I also do have consulting available for you to purchase to get one-on-one help from me to kick-start your next project, company, idea…the skies the limit. Click here for more info on those services.