Today you are competing for business in a noisy world. Just look at all your options for connecting via social media. Every time you sign onto Instagram or Facebook, you’ve got the choice of stories or your feed. Not to mention the rabbit hole of Pinterest. Plus new social media platforms crop up that add to that noise.
How can you get the word out about your business in all that noise? If you are caught up in that noise, so is your customer. One effective way is with advertising.
Advertising is used to persuade an audience (your potential or current customers/clients) to take action with respect to your product or service. And if that action is purchasing your product, the results are not always immediate.
I have read numerous studies that it can take anywhere from 13-17 times for someone to see your print ad before they purchase. I’ve seen numbers as low as 7 with regard to television advertising. And, the range for online advertising varies as much. Maybe with changing algorithms, it varies even more.
Regardless of which number is correct, much of the initial viewing of your ad puts your name in the mind of the buyer. They begin to recognize your name or brand. Once your name becomes familiar, the prospect moves along a continuum to become a customer and hopefully a long-term client.
While it may be quicker with online advertising — multiple posting on social media, for example — you still need to build your brand first. Start there before you start advertising
I do think some form of advertising belongs in your marketing plan. It’s easy to throw money at advertising think it will solve your problem. Take time to create a strategy so you know what you are doing and then measure your results. When I think about advertising I often go back to the basic questions I learned in journalism school: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
Who are you trying to reach? Before you can decide where to advertise, you need to understand your customer. Often people just think they are trying to reach all consumers or all art collectors. If you really look at your customer, you might find that you are trying to reach a niched-audience of pet owners for your art or galleries who represent avant-garde artists. The more you know who your ideal customer is the better. You want to be able to specifically target this customer to get the most value for your spend. (Check the blog for articles on this topic.)
What is the product you are selling and what is the problem that it solves? You need to be able to articulate this in your ad. You customer cares about what’s in if for them, so you need to be sure your ad answers that question. Look at your product’s benefits, not its features. Benefits tell the customer the problem you are solving for them. Features describe your product.
Another “what” to consider is what your budget is. If you had all the money in the world, it still wouldn’t be prudent to just throw money at advertising. I suspect, however, that you do have a budget and want to get the most bang for your buck. If you are curious where to start, the Small Business Administration recommends 7 percent to 8percent of your gross revenue.
It’s important with your advertising efforts like other aspects of your business to track how much you spend and what the results are that you get. Today when you advertise online, you can track on almost an immediate basis and if the results aren’t what you are looking for, you can either adjust the ad parameters or stop the ad.
Today you have options both online and offline. Regardless, it’s easy to look at all the print craft and niche publications and online advertising opportunities and get overwhelmed thinking you need to advertise in all of them.
Take time to figure out where your target market hangs out. Are they traditional quilters who read traditional quilt magazines? Are they more art focused and read art-focused magazines? Are they DIYers who get all their tutorials over on YouTube? Are they shop owners who read trade magazines? Do they get most of their information from the Internet? If so, who do they get their information from?
Once you determine where you can find your customer, it lets you narrow down where to spend your advertising dollars. You are able to target your ad to reach your ideal client where they are.
Give some thought to when you will advertise and how often?
It is valuable to set up an advertising schedule outlining how often you will advertise. As I noted earlier, it takes time for people to find you, and you need to advertise on an ongoing basis to expect results. Sure you will get customers from your first ad, but you will get more as you advertise more. Your customers will begin to recognize your name and your brand.
Stop and ask yourself why you are advertising? I like looking at this from two sides – yours and your customer.
You know why you are advertising: name and brand recognition, more sales, etc.
Consider your customer’s why, too. Why should they care about what you are advertising? Why are your products or services different from the other products or services they already know about? It’s really important to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
How will you advertise? You have lots of options with advertising these days, and you will have to answer a lot of “how” questions once you get through the “W’s.”
How will you connect with your customer – print, online, google adwords, etc.?
How will you structure your ad: with lots of information, lots of visuals, testimonials, etc.?
How often will you change your ad?
How will you know if your advertising is effective? You need to create a system to track your results. In the end it is all about your ROI (return on investment). You cannot make decisions about future advertising if you do not.
If you spend time considering these questions, you will be well on your way to an effective advertising plan.
Where have you been most successful with your advertising efforts?