Time, repetition, and a ton of research goes in to creating effective advertising.
Notice that I didn’t throw money into that equation.
Advertising is often perceived as expensive, and usually outside of the budget for small business start-ups looking to make a dent.
Advertising doesn’t have to break the bank, and if done correctly, could yield an amazing return on your investment. That’s the goal right? Spend a little to make a ton!
Advertising effectiveness is dictated by the Rule of Seven. The rule simply states that a consumer will not act on your message until they see your ad for the seventh time.
It has also been proven that it takes at least three attempts to get noticed even once. Doing the math, your ad will have to show itself to the right person an average of twenty-one times before they would even consider buying something from you.
Now there are a ton of variables here, but these numbers need to be considered when attempting a one shot blast in an effort to attract new sets of eyes.
I define advertising as a set of educated failures that eventually leads to a lucky guess. Zeroing in on your target audience can be a daunting, and often deflating, task that leaves you wishing your ad came with a return receipt. But as long as the ad reaches print, the publisher fulfilled their duties as promised.
You, on the other hand need, to understand where those buying eyes are landing, and if they are even interested in what you are selling. That type of research can only be conducted by the person that knows the customer best.
As the owner of a small business, you engage with your existing customers daily. You see them in action, take notice of the paper rolled under their arm, and witness them checking their email or smartphone for messages.
Just like in poker, you have to constantly be on the lookout for “tells.” A squint of the eyes, or a quivering lip. These clues allow us to anticipate their next move. If you notice that most of your customers are reading the local paper, it might be a good idea to advertise there. If they are a tech savvy crowd, it could be a solid investment to rent some social media ad space. You have to slap on your Inspector Gadget hat, and start paying attention to your daily surroundings.
You’ll also hear a ton of “space for rent” agencies out there report that their ads are making you money while you sleep! That’s a pretty attractive concept, but the reality is that advertising is not a totally passive form of attracting new business. If anything, effective advertising will result in more work, and a constant need for interaction with your newly found customer base.
With the exception of direct response advertising--like when you send me a piece a snail mail offering your product and I send you a check in return--no single form of advertising is finished working as soon as it’s witnessed by the target. People often require more information before they make a big purchase.
You have to plan on receiving phone calls and emails from those who are teetering on the edge of becoming a customer. In order to secure the sale, you must prepare your staff, and ensure that everyone understands the details of each offer or product advertisement. Have you ever visited a business, presented a coupon at checkout, and had the clerk look at you like you just attempted to pay with Monopoly money? Keep everyone in the loop and close the sale. Ad impressions are only the first step in a successful sales process.
Money spent on “shot in the dark” advertising is always a negligent use of assets. A great analogy to describe effective advertising tactics goes like this, “don’t use a shotgun to reach your target." Leverage the accuracy of a sniper rifle, and zero in on the person who is almost guaranteed to buy. It takes practice, and several missed shots before you have your scope sighted in.
Advertising Rules of Engagement: 6 Ways to Improve Target Accuracy
1. Be sure to test a variety of media ranging from traditional print, YouTube videos, social media and personal networking. Each attempt will yield different results.
2. Never deplete your budget on one single ad campaign. Find out what works best for you.
3. Reconnaissance is key. Search for customer similarities in media selection. Newspaper? Magazines? Be sure to document your findings.
4. Look for where your closest competitors are advertising. Are they advertising there consistently? They may have already found the form of media that works best. Save your money and follow their lead. Just make sure your ad looks better than theirs!
5. Similar to #4, if your competitors are avoiding a particular publication like the plague, don’t make a similar mistake. They’ve already failed, which brings you closer to success.
6. Advertising requires repetition. If you fail to reach a sales goal, don’t ditch the campaign. Revamp your ad, and try again. The headline is the most important part of your ad. Before you change the entire thing, try rewriting the headline first. You might be surprised by the results!
"Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” - Stephen Leacock, Canadian teacher, political scientist, writer, and humorist.
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Andy Sokolovich is the owner of small business marketing firm Bent Business Marketing. He can be reached at andy@BentBusinessMarketing.com.