10 Ways To Advertise Smarter

Quite often we hear business owners and managers lamenting the fact that their advertising isn't really working for them. Whether they are advertising in the local newspapers, on local websites or using Facebook or Google AdSense ads, many of them end up feeling that advertising is an uneccessary expense. Contrary to that belief, one thing is certain, good advertising works! If that weren't true the bean counters at all the successful big companies wouldn't be spending millions of dollars per year on advertising. Actually, if done correctly, advertising can be thought of more as an investment in the future of your business, rather than an expense. But done poorly, it usually doesn't work and you end up thinking it is a just waste of money.

Here are ten ways to help you get more bang for your buck when advertising your business.

Create your USP
A Unique Selling Proposition (sometimes referred to as a Unique Selling Point) is a marketing concept that helps differentiate your company from your competitors. With the plethora of advertising and marketing messages in today's media saturated markets, how you position your company can make or break your chances for success. Think carefully about what your company does different or better than your competitors and strive to "own" that position. Try to get people to think of your company when they think of that concept.

There were lots of pizza companies when Tom Monaghan started Dominos. But he positioned his company as the delivery specialists, promising to get your pizza to you in "30 minutes or less". He ran with that concept, he owned it, and he grew his company to become the second largest pizza chain in the U.S.. Federal Express did the same thing with overnight package delivery. They blew away the competition by positioning themselves as the go to company "when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight".

Your USP is the very essence of what you are offering. It needs to be so compelling that it can be used as a headline or taglinefor your product or servcie. Just be sure you can deliver on what you promise, or you'll be shooting yourself in the foot.

Have an advertising plan
This is the most important guideline in advertising and the one that is most often ignored.  The lack of a plan is the single biggest reason so much advertising doesn't work. When you hear someone say, "I don't advertise, it's a waste of money," you can be sure you are talking to someone who spent good money advertising without a plan.

Set goals, and create an advertising campaign that will accomplish your goals. By setting realistic, concrete goals you will get a better idea of what resources it will take to execute an effective campaign. If you want to increase business 50%, that will obviously take a bigger campaign (and more money) than increasing business by 10%.

Provide a real benefit
Too many ads are little more than a copy of the company's business card. They offer no incentive or call to action. If you are McDonalds, Chevrolet or Coke, all you have to do is display your logo and you're halfway home. But small businesses need to work harder. In order to be successful, your advertising must provide a benefit or solve a problem. And it has to be a benefit or solution the customer actually wants, not just something you want them to want. If you successfuly tie your product or service to the benefit or solution you are providing, you have a much better chance of getting your message across.

Know who you are talking to
Make sure that the media you are using and the style of ads you create match the market you are trying to reach. An appropriately themed ad in a highly targeted magazine, or on a niche website, will almost certainly outperform a more generic ad stuck somewhere in a local newspaper, or running a few dozen radio ads whenever the station can fit them in. The newspaper or radio might have a bigger audience but the majority of that audience may not have any interest in your product or service.

Know how your medium works
If you are unfamiliar with Google AdWords or Facebook PPC advertising, get someone who knows the ins-and-outs to handle the campaign for you. Both Facebook and Google make it bone simple to place ads, and they can deliver an audience that will knock your socks off. But they also provide ad interfaces that allow for highly sophisticated targeting, ad planning, placement and testing. Many inexperienced people advertising on those big websites give up in frustration thinking that AdSense or Facebook are lousy places to advertise.

That's not true. Both sites can be remarkably effective if you know how to do it. The nsame with banner ads on websites or even newspaper ads. If you aren't familiar with the medium or the processes, you'll end up shooting in the dark and never hitting your target.

Don't waste your money on small newspaper ads
Ad reps and ad agencies may tell you that small ads can be effective.  That used to be true becasue newspapers that kept a decent editorial to advertising ratio. Nowadays, most newspapers, especially the ones in The Bahamas, run far too many ads per page as they should. So, unless you are incredibly clever and/or your cousin works at the newspaper and can guarantee you excellent placement, your ads will get just lost in the clutter.

If you can afford bigger ads, there may still be some potential.  One-quarter page ads or bigger can be attention getting enough to actually work for you. But even full page ads need good placement and unless you are a big advertisier or on the inside track, it's hard to get really great placement in local newspapers.

Change your ads often
Too many advertisiers just keep running the same ineffective ads over and over again.  People get used to seeing those ads and start tuning them out. When you launch a campaign, create a variety of ads in different sizes. Rotate the ads and change them regularily.  Also, make a note of whch ads get the best response, so next time you make new ads, you can incorporate some of the lessons you've learned into them. That way, you are constantly improving your ads and continuously making them more effective.

Use new technology
There are a lot of companies, in The Bahamas and elsewhere, who are still doing "old school" advertising, meaning they are not taking advantage of all the new technology available to them.  Even if their advertsing is successful, it only means that it would probably be more successful if they used some of the newer ad mediums. If you aren't  advertising online, using email marketing, social media or video, you may be missing out on some of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience.

Most of these newer technologies have the distinct advangtage of allowing you to track the number of people who view and respond to your ads. That, alone, makes for more effective advertising because you can change your message on the fly, continuously making your ads more effective.

Don't advertise like the big brands
Big international companies have name recognition and spend a good portion of their ad budgets on branding to create future sales and marketing goodwill. Unless your company is a household word and you have a huge ad budget, that won't probably won't work for your business. Instead, focus your ads to on producing immediate sales. One way to do that is to include some kind of an offer in your advertising and make it easy for prospective customers to respond to your offer.

Take advantage of reciprocal marketing
There are probably many other small, non-competitive businesses in your market that you can coordinate promotions with. A car dealer could work with an insurance company, a furniture store with an upholstery cleaner, etc. Offer to help publicize the other company's products or services to your customers in exchange for them promoting your products or services to their customers. This can give you an opportunity to reach a large number of potential customers that you wouldn't ordinarily have access to.

One of the most effective ways to engage in reciprocal marketing is to take advantage of BahamasB2B's recriprocal marketing offer. You give us products or services that we can give away to our website visitors and Newsletter subscribers, and we give you back the retail value of your offer in promotion and advertising. This has proven to be very effective for a number of local companies. It is a low cost way to expose yourself to a large number of new prospects and make sales you may not otherwise get.

Follow these simple tips and you are sure to make your advertising more effective and your advertising budget go further.

Good advertising takes time and if you are busy running your business, chances are you may not have the time it takes. So you might consider hiring someone to do the job for you. You don't necessarily need a huge budget, you just need creativity and some experience in advertising. If you need help pumping some life into your advertising, give us a shout. Our staff has a combined total of 50 years in the advertising business and we've worked with companies of all sizes and budgets.


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