The Small Business Purchasing Guide to Advertising
20 years and over 200 million dollars in sales generated for small and medium size businesses have taught us a few lessons about growing sales and how to advertise. As a business growth consulting company, it’s important we communicate the best practices for researching and buying advertising to our clients and any interested small businesses.
Did you know that experts suggest that 70% of advertising dollars are wasted! My experience seems to confirm this. Here are the key lessons and tips that should save you a ton of money, and bring you better prospects.
When deciding on where to advertise for new customers -
|Three Good References||Do not advertise or utilize any source until you have spoken with and received three good references from current or recent advertisers with services similar to yours. If a company can not provide you with references (again from services or products like yours) DO NOT USE. Sounds so simple. Very few companies do it.|
|Long Term Customers||Does the advertising you’re considering have long term customers who utilize it over and over? Companies don’t stop using good advertising methods. Ask them for the last year’s worth of their product (if a magazine, direct mail piece, or other print) and see what the turn over of advertisers is. If it’s a non print opportunity, ask for references that have used the method for at least a year.We research new advertising opportunities for clients every year. 90% get a thumbs-down just based on the above.|
|New Advertising Opportunities||DO NOT USE new advertising companies.They have no history and some of the largest money wasters are new companies with great stories. If it works they will be around when it’s proven and safe for you to spend money with them.|
|Don’t Get Sold!||The word sales means to persuade. Don’t let a good sales person make your decision. The sales person is there to provide information to you so you can persuade yourself. Think of sales reps as information givers, and you be the judge based on facts.|
|Image||Only advertise with companies that attract your type customer. Coupons attract price buyers. If you’re not a price seller why would you waste your money advertising to the wrong type prospect?|
|Design Image||Have a professional design your advertising if you’re not a marketing guru.A well thought out and designed advertising piece (Web Site, Social Media, Direct mail, Yellow Page, magazine, TV buy, Radio and other) will generate three or four times the response as the generic owner or non marketing pro produced advertising. For a few hundred dollars you will see a huge impact on the response. And it’s a one time investment.
Don’t have the company providing the advertising do the advertisement or your ad will look and sound just like all the others.
As an example, I see companies use Pay-per-Click advertising on the Internet attached to a cheap and poorly put together web site all the time. They’re getting 25% of the response my clients get for the same money because they only spent a few dollars on a web site. For an extra $1000, they could sell four times as much!
|Don’t Advertise Until You’re Ready to Provide
|I had a friend that spent a lot of money on hosting a live remote radio program at one of his restaurants. The turn out was excellent. So good in fact that people had to wait a long time and the staff was completely swamped. The service was poor, and they ran out of many items.All they accomplished was spending money and sending hundreds of potential customers away never to return.|
|Free Advertising and Marketing||Any advertising and marketing that works is in essence free. It’s throwing away money if it doesn’t. Do your homework.|
|The “It Takes Repetition for Advertising to Work” Line||Yes, you need to continually reach your target in new and different ways. No, sending the same direct mail piece and getting a bad response time after time does not qualify as a good plan. If it’s not working after the first one or two times -stop it, and figure out what’s wrong.|
|Change Your Message||Sending the same post card, letter, direct mail piece, or saying the same thing over and over in advertising is another waste. Plan on changing your offer, or message every chance you get.Learn from the big guys. McDonalds is always offering new incentives, or products. You know what? They do it not to sell you a new sandwich; they do it to keep you listening.|
|To Everything There is a Season – Time Your Advertising||Buyers purchase your service or product at predictable and logical times.For some companies this is a “season” A landscaper in Denver is going to sell 70% of their customers during four months of the year. Spending advertising dollars in December for a landscaper is wasted dollars. Know your customers buying cycle and advertise in these periods.
Did you know for instance that a direct mail piece or flier that arrives at a home on Monday will get two or more times the response than one delivered on Friday for a home improvement company? You may save .05 with a company that delivers whenever they want, but you’re losing response and a lot of dollars. Are you advertising to save money or sell more customers?
|Happy Customers||Referrals from happy customers are hands down, no question asked, flat out, absolutely, bar none, I am not joking – your best advertising. Yet, referrals are a lot like the old saying about weather. Every one knows about it but no one does any thing about it.Have a referral program in place for every customer. Make it the foundation of your advertising program. I have purchased several referral program guides and developed and implemented referral programs for many clients and every one of the companies that I was a partner or owner of. Nothing beats referrals. If you do nothing else, start a good referral program. Track it, promote it constantly, and focus on it.
The first sign for me of a company that needs our services is they have no defined referral program. Our company does 90% of our business through referrals.
|Be a Sharp Shooter||Target and reach.It can save you a lot of money. If you don’t know who your ideal prospects are down to their shoe sizes, you’re spending way too much money reaching them.
In today’s database world, you might be surprised how targeted you can become with your advertising. Once you have your market truly identified, your cost to reach them will go way down and your response will go way up.
|Spend Every Dollar You Have||If a specific advertising method is working, spend everything you can on it as long as you can support the new sales. Why companies have some methods that work, and then continue to use others that don’t will always amaze me. Spend your time and money on the stuff that works. Find more of it; spend more on it, until you maximize its return.|
|Margin and Volume – Define Where You Advertise||The margins you have in your service or product will define your method and budget for advertising.A large volume of potential customers brings down your cost of reach.
A large margin allows you to spend more to reach your target.
If you have a large volume of potential customers with a large margin of profit (or gross margin) – you can advertise a lot. If you have a small volume of potential customers (a service or product for a specific small category of customer) and a small margin – you’re going to be limited to the methods you employ.
A business broker knows that they may only see 10 or 20 good new prospects a year, which is a tiny market, but their margins are good. In this case they will have dollars to advertise wisely. McDonalds has a huge volume and an average margin. They can advertise a lot as the cost of “reach” is very small.
My One Call, LLC 2015
Those are the top tips. If you utilize them consistently, I am confident that you will save money (which goes right into your profit) and produce more revenue for the dollars you spend, which produces more profit!
Feel free to pass this on to any other business owners or managers that you think would find it of value.
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