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Chapter 6: Advertising Basics

While advertising has many definitions, it is essentially a tool that enables you to inform people about your products or services. Advertising comes in different guises, yet the main idea behind each advertising category goes beyond simply informing people about your business; but it rather serves to instill the desire in people to purchase your products or try out your services.

One thing that is common to many definitions of advertising is the fact that it will include a paid form of communication about your business to the general public. An important principle when undertaking this venture is the need to allow time for your adverts to work. Since it is usually impossible for people to see each and every advertising effort on your part, you need to keep your advertising constant and you will reap the results as time goes along but remember that you will not see the results immediately.

Why go for advertising?

Many people have their doubts about using paid advertising thinking that it is enough to opt for other advertising options that come for free. While as the saying goes the more the merrier, making use of the real advertising has many benefits that if duly considered will leave you with no other option but to simply go for it. For example, advertising has the function of not only introducing your business to the general public but it will through constant reminders to the public create your very own business identity which the very same public will as time goes along easily identify itself with it. Additionally, besides showing the public that you are serious as making use of paid advertisements adds to the value of your business, you are also putting your business out there to attract more customers and investors.

Some other positive aspects of advertising would include the fact that it is quite a mechanical process and you will therefore have a strong element of control over it. If you pay for a newspaper article or a TV spot you will be informed of when and where as well as the time in which your advert will be issued or displayed to the public. However, it is not enough to have a time schedule for your ads. These ads need to be placed at specific times when your target audience is most likely to see them. This also means that you need to classify who your target market is.

Why not go for advertising?

Not every business is a fluid one, especially if you are just starting out or have had some economic challenges in the recent past. Thus, financing becomes a reason why some businesses do not go for paid advertising.

While it is true that advertising helps you build an identity for your business with which the public can identify itself with, you have to be aware that the results especially in monetary terms does not happen overnight. Indeed, an increase in sales and customers will still take its own natural course even if you are using advertising. Also, do not make the mistake of thinking that by obtaining finance to advertise your business it means that it is the solution for your current cash flow problems especially if your financial situation is very bad.

Bottom line, advertisement will help but you need to be patient and allow it to take its natural course. Moreover, if you opt for advertising then you need to have a strong knowhow of who your target market is and a study of their behavior including important aspects such as what time do they usually watch TV? This means that if for example your target market involves people who work office hours and you have booked a TV or radio spot, it would be more advantageous and more appropriate if you’re TV or radio spot is made live within the first three hours after the average finishing time of office workers. You might need to pay for this kind of knowhow together with the design of your advert as well as the publishing advert itself.

Advertising tools

There are various advertising tools at the disposition of any business regardless of their budget. The list of advertising tools is endless. Some examples have been listed below so that you can get an idea of the different forms advertising comes in:

  • Signage;
  • Newspapers;
  • Yellow pages;
  • Radio;
  • Bill boards;
  • Yellow pages;
  • Communal notice boards;
  • Flyers;
  • Letters (post);
  • Television;
  • Email;
  • Banners;
  • E-zines;
  • Social networks; and
  • Promotional products
Your Approach to advertising

Although the use of any of the abovementioned tools will aid to publicize your business how you approach advertising will make all the difference. An advert on the newspaper may reap a certain level of publicity but combining two or more advertising tools may take your sales to a whole new level.

But how do you determine your advertising approach? Now that you have gone meticulously through all the steps described in the marketing plan, you should have a line of action that you can follow up. The first thing that you should do is to take a look at your budget and target market. What advertising tools are within your budget but that at the same time can reach your target audience. Take some time to look up the companies or firms offering these services in order to obtain a quote for the use of a specific advertising tool and also to have an idea of how long your advert will run and what it is that you can aspect to achieve by undertaking a particular advertising tool. How many people will it reach? What input is required on your part? How long before your advert commences to run? Ask the advertisement companies as many questions as you can so that you can make an informed decision prior to hiring their services. When communicating with advertising companies, you would be getting free knowledge and marketing education at the same time.

At this stage you either have the option to invest some of your time in understanding the dynamics and basic rules of advertising or else for a faster implementation of your marketing plan, you can turn to a consultancy business even though most advertising companies can generally provide you with all the information that you need.

Rules for Your Advertising Campaign

When embarking on your own advertisement campaign you will reap more positive results if you keep your campaign simple. This is because the more time goes by the busier our society is becoming. The ‘busy’ factor calls upon your skill to make people aware of your products or services requiring the shortest attention of potential prospects as possible.

Here the use of slogans, short messages that yet speak volumes of words will not only ensure that people have the time to read it but it will also turn your message or slogan in to a catchy one.

An important aspect of advertising that can make or break your marketing campaign is that the advertisement tools that you use to represent your business have to genuinely reflect what you have to offer. If in your ads your promise something that creates doubts in your target audience, they will destruct your business and your ad campaign will turn out to be nothing but a waste of time and money. This is because if you fail to create the sense of trust in your target audience, it will not make your products or services desirable enough to query about it let alone invest in your business. The same principle of a trustworthy marketing campaign applies to online marketing and this includes creating a trustworthy image of your business website. Again, creating the impression that people can trust your business will determine the difference between whether people will go for your products and service and whether they will let the information that you have to offer pass by. The ranking of your website therefore becomes as important as the design and content of your website itself.

Moreover, if your ads promise something and you fail to deliver it, it will make people talk about your business in a bad light and you want to avoid this at all costs, especially since word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool that spreads the message around faster than most other means of advertisement. Said in a better way one disappointed person will negatively affect your credibility tenfold. Therefore, when embarking on your ad campaign your focus should be centered on obtaining positive testimonials which can only be achieved through keeping your clients’ happy.

Next, you will need to tackle the budgeting issue. While you can have financial freedom your business can also have a limited budget to invest in advertisement, if not a very limited one. So, your budget will determine your ability to try out different advertisement tools. You will need to be very creative, especially if your budget is quite restrictive. Thus, a simple customer feedback from available at your place of business can help you assess what the most effective ad tools of your business could be.

You also should avoid wasting your ad money by targeting people who do not fall within the category of your target market. What is the point in targeting an old generation of females if you are selling teenagers’ clothes? Therefore, it is important and vital to your business to aim at the target market sector as you have originally identified in your marketing plan. If you have identified more than one market sector a rule of thumb for an efficient marketing campaign is to tackle a market sector on its own and then move on to the next.

Making people aware of your business is not enough. You need them to actually visit your business premises, your website or to contact you directly for more information. This implies that you will need to create a sense of curiosity or desire in your target market to query more about your products and obtain more information than the advert itself could have provided. If you do this successfully your sales are bound to increase.

Memory boosters

Once you launch an ad campaign, you cannot stop at that. You need to be committed to ensure constant time to time reminders to your target market. Sequential mailing and other forms of communication therefore become crucial to the success of your marketing plan. Whatever way you choose to boast your potential customers’ memory, it is suggested that you accompany this communication with promotional products. These free gifts will get your target audience more likely to read what you have to say since promotional products apart from being a momentum ad in themselves, they will make your communication with your prospects more interesting than them simply receiving a flyer or a letter without a gift.

Your follow up should however involve more than ONE consequential communication with your clients. In fact your communication should be part of a step-by-step marketing plan. Your stepby-step communication sequence should more or less take the following form:

  • Introductory communication
  • First time buyers communication- special offers
  • State of the fact or market news communication
  • Festivities communication
  • Current customer’s communication (and a big YES. Do never forget your existent customers).

Whatever form your communication takes be it through direct mail, emails, phone calls, promotional stands, flyers or by simply sending a text message for example, you need to ensure to make each stage of this part of the marketing campaign more personal.

Remember that you can maximize the effect of your marketing campaign by adding promotional products to every step of your follow up communication plan of action.

About Different Ad tools
Making the most of your post

While mail is a traditional concept over twenty five billion is estimated to be spent on mail every year. This is evidence in itself that direct mail is a top ad tool that you need to take into consideration if you want your business marketing plan to succeed.

Why is mail so successful? Its main reasons for being a successful marketing tool are that you as the investor have complete control over it. This element of control includes how much you want to spend and on who you want to spend it. It also provides you with the opportunity to follow up your direct mailing technique responses as you can monitor who of the targeted people that received your mail actually became part of your clients’ database and who of those contacted did not respond.

Do not make the mistake to send direct mail to anyone with an address. Instead choose to invest your money well and stick to your target market as established in your marketing plan. People who cannot be interested in your product or services and therefore people that fall out of your target market will simply throw away your mail and even if they make use of your promotional products they will not generate any sales for you as they are simply not interested in what you have to offer. Basically, you can invest your limited budget in a good way only by targeting your market sector.

Extend your Marketing Campaign

When undertaking a marketing campaign you will need to learn how to make the most of your budget. Joining forces with others that provide a product or service that goes hand in hand with your own business is one such way of extending your marketing campaign while at the same time not burning your budget.

Let us say that you run a digital cameras and other electronics shop. How many times do customers come in and ask for a service that you perhaps cannot provide? Take intensive camera repair or videography services for example. What do you usually do? Do you simply inform your customers that you do not provide these services nor do you refer them to someone else that in your professional opinion can also provide your customers with a good service? If you do not have the information of other people who provide the services or products that your business has to offer, run a light search and contact the service providers or product suppliers. Ask them to join forces in a marketing plan that can help out all the participants including your business.

When joining forces with other people who add to your current business you can reach an agreement for referrals whereby you will send traffic in their direction and your marketing partners will return the favor by sending you their own customers. Additionally, you can discuss a plan of action which will benefit and give a push to your marketing campaign. You will therefore share the expenses of this marketing campaign together by listing down all the names of your marketing partners including yours.

Promotional products play an important role even when partnering with others for your marketing campaign. Let’s say you partner with a professional camera repairs business. You can use promotional products interchangeably. This means that the professional camera repairs partner will provide his clients with a promotional product representing your business and which you yourself have provided. You can offer a 25% discount on photo development packages with each camera service or an album among many other options. Your marketing partner can in return offer camera lens cleaning products, memory cards or camera packaging that is specifically designed to protect the camera from getting damaged while moving it from one place to another. The more creative you can get when coming up with promotional products in your marketing and partnering campaign the more successful it will. The bottom line however is that these promotional products have to be useful and inter-linked to each others’ business so that your prospects will find your products or services desirable.

You can partner with as many other businesses as you want. The successful step in this type of market partnering is that your partners run a business that compliment your own so that your potential customers can see that they are getting both value as well as quality by using all the businesses involved.

Making use of e-mail marketing is another way of extending your marketing campaign regardless of what kind of business you operate in and despite the fact that your business is a small one. In fact, e-mail marketing has in recent years become one of the main advertisement tools for businesses of any kind. The idea behind e-mail marketing is to make more people visit your online website apart from making your target market aware of your business and offers. This traffic is usually directed to your website by including the link of your website in the e-mail you are marketing your business with. The more people click on your website address, the further up the internet search engines ranking your website will go. Additionally, you will also get more people to see what your business has to offer be it both products or services which will ultimately lead to more sales, especially if the visitors you attract form part of your target market audience.

While it is true that in order to send large amounts of e-mails during your marketing campaign, you will need both time and human resources to do it, unlike other marketing tools e-mail marketing perhaps is the cheapest, most effective, focused and fastest ad tool that your business will ever use. Moreover, even if you happen to be a person who is not so friendly towards the internet you will soon discover that there are many e-mail marketing software programs that can be easily applied to your marketing campaign without requiring all that knowledge about computers. You will for example find readymade templates, follow up software products that also help you divide the people on your list as well as assist you in coming up with a strategic plan of action for this part of your marketing campaign.

Your human resources expense will be lowered however if you already have an electronic client database ready as then it will simply involve a question of bulk copy and paste jobs. Just like an introductory letter or a follow up offer letter that you can send by mail, in e-mail marketing you can come up with a number of standard ‘e-letters’ and forward it to all of those who are listed on your clients’ database. This is of course cheaper than traditional mail because you save up on paper, printing, envelopes and overall postage. E-mail marketing is also faster because while mail in the post can take a few days, an e-mail is delivered to your clients within seconds.

Another advantage of e-mail marketing when compared to other ad tools is that the internet is a way that enables your business to communicate with its clients and with other potential customers whose information you have gathered so that you can keep them posted with information about your business. How often have you heard clients or potential prospects exclaim something on the line that they will get back to you about a business offer and yet even though they were genuinely interested they never found the time to actually do so? Well, email marketing is the solution to this gap between the promise made to you by potential clients and your expectation that they actually follow your business offer up. In fact, after formulated standard e-marketing letters you should always add the link to your website around twice or three times at different paragraphs. This is because while reading your customers or prospects may be tempted to click on the website and eventually visit it. Even if they do not purchase anything they would have helped you make your website more visible to others when running an online search. To promote both your website and your offer you should include phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘visit us at www. (Website address).com’ to benefit from this offer.

Because you cannot send promotional products through a wire transfer some people look at internet marketing as limited in scope because it fails to create the desire in the target audience to open your e-mail. However, in reality this is an advantage as the promise of a promotional product can help you increase your database list by asking your website visitors to fill in certain contact information in order for them to receive the free promotional product. However, since e-mail marketing is not a face to face interaction and it also is not a package that can be touched when received through the post, you need to find a way to attract your potential readers to open the email. Consequently, the subject line of your email has to be at the centre of your attention and you must be both creative and clever in formulating the subject of your email. The subject you choose will determine whether your e-mail will be opened or marked as trash.

Experts in the field have come up with many clever ideas to generate the curiosity of the e-mail receiver to open it. Some of these tips would include a subject description such as “get a free gift when...” or ‘benefit now from a chance to win a ...” without explaining anything at all about the gift in the subject line. Then repeat the line and complete the description in the e-mail itself. There are various clever ways to create a desire in your e-mail recipients. This will of course depend on the extent you are willing to go in your marketing promotion. Receiving a free gift (which is usually a promotional product) can be the result of simply signing up thereby providing you with more information about the consumer market out there. The free promotional product can also be provided when purchasing something from you of a certain brand or when spending a certain amount. On the other hand a possibility to win is not binding on you to provide a certain number of promotional gifts but it will reap certain benefits for you. One thing has been proven over and over again: The idea that your target market will receive something for free will generate more traffic and interest in what you have to say. Bottom line you should always consider using promotional products to maximize the response of the public to your marketing campaign.

Your website is also another online tool that you can use to promote your products and services. The first thing that you must cater for after your website content and design have been finalized is again joining forces with other people by baclinking your website to their website. This means that while browsing through their website people might be directed to your website because you have taken the time to organize these links. What does this mean for you? Apart from more exposure and besides increasing the possibility of generating more sales and interest in your products and services, the larger the number of people that visit your website, the better your website ranking will be when online users run a search on search engines. Imagine yourself browsing on the internet for let’s say butter. Once, the search engine has finished searching it will give you a list of possible vendors of butter. This list is usually organized on order of priority. This order is determined on the amount of traffic your website receives. Of course, you are more likely to benefit if your website is among the first few website on the front page of any given search engine. This is because given the busy life people lead, it is most likely that people will opt to purchase products or browse those businesses on the front page. What this means for you is that you are likely to generate more sales if your website ranks among the list on the first page of the search engine. Therefore, backlining your business to the chamber of commerce, to the local governmental website that is related to your business such as for example the grants section and the consumer services, would be a good way to increase the traffic to your website.

Another top benefit of having a website is that it will bring your way customers that you have not met. If you are restricted to a particular area of town for example which you can easily promote your products or services to face to face, a website can reach people on the other side of town and more. In fact, there are millions of people that make use the internet as their primary source of information. To be brief and sum it all up, the internet is the most sought after source of information now-a-days and if you want your marketing campaign to reach its full potential you should make the most of this information tool. If your marketing strategy does not incorporate this very important marketing tool you will be missing out on a lot of clients.

As will be explained further on in this guide, whatever step you take when using a marketing tool has to be accompanied by a marketing strategy which is ultimately dependent on what you want to achieve when undertaking a particular marketing approach. This is usually referred to as tangible objectives and should be included in your marketing plan. Of course, you will start to learn more about your market and how your business operates in this specific market as you start implementing your marketing plan. You need not be concerned if you find yourself changing your marketing strategy as you go along. However, these changes should always be advantageous to you and your business in that they help bring you closer to the objectives you laid down when you first formulated your marketing plan.