Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Advertising In Local Publications – Can It Still Work For Small Businesses?

The advertising legend David Ogilvy once said:

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
So now, to local advertising. Yes, it can most definitely work, as today’s business marketing consultants will confirm, provided the publication has:

Sufficient readers in your target market
Ask for a media pack or profile of the readership before you make any kind of commitment. Focus on your target audience and the publication’s target audience. Is there enough of an overlap to strongly suggest you will get a good return on your investment?

Good distribution channels
Is the publication actively delivered to its readership or key influencers or decision makers? Or is it something people have to pick up from a shopping centre or train station? Is it a specialist publication which is only available on subscription? If so, how many subscribers do they have currently? Also you need to know how frequent the publication is and on what dates it is published, so as you can plan time-sensitive offers accordingly.

Engaging content
Frankly, a publication stuffed with wall-to-wall ads is unlikely to bear much fruit. Look for punchy editorial and engaging, informative articles people will actively want to read.

Reasonable rates
As well as the advertising space itself, don’t forget to build in any outsourcing costs such as copywriting and design if you are not creating your ad in-house. Don’t be shy about haggling either. Many publications will offer you their standard rate card and will be used to negotiating. If you can’t get a discount on the price of the advertisement can you get extra value in other ways? For example, by increasing the size of your ad, or the promise of a free editorial write-up? Or perhaps a free ad on their associated website?

If the price of your ad still seems unaffordable at this point, tell them ‘no’, with the proviso that they are welcome to phone you back on Friday afternoon if they still have space available – at a heavily discounted rate naturally. You might be surprised at how often this tactic can work in your favour!
Once you have booked your advertising space and designed your advertisement, be sure to have a program or spreadsheet in place to measure its success. And never be tempted to design your own ad (unless you are a graphic designer), because it won’t look professional. Remember, your friendly local business marketing consultants are on hand to help you with any aspect of your advertising, marketing and PR.

Finally, keep in mind David Ogilvy’s advice. Be sure your advertisement is so interesting . . . so compelling . . . that the reader just has to buy your product.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Launching A New Business? A Marketing Company Can Help You Make Your Budget S-t-r-e-t-c-h Further

When you’re launching a brand new business every penny counts. And without careful budgeting in place, it’s all too easy for your start-up costs to spiral out of control. This isn’t the best way to start a new venture as I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

While there are some costs that are (happily) avoidable because they are not essential to your business, marketing is not one of them.

Marketing is a requirement every business will need to consider for as long as that business exists. Marketing is how the world will get to know of your business. At its most fundamental, marketing will bring about brand awareness and a steady stream of customers. At its extreme it has be known to create fame and fortune too, particularly within the realms of Reality TV. But I digress . . .

Either marketing will be a function you will choose to carry out in-house, or else it will need to be outsourced to an competent individual or company. If you’re not sure what kind of marketing activities would glean the best results for your particular business industry or sector and you don’t have the expertise or resources to market in-house, then assigning your marketing function to a marketing company makes perfect sense.

Employing an marketing company to kick-start your online marketing campaign can benefit you in a host of ways:

You won’t waste time and money carrying out ‘random’ marketing activities that might not be right for your business.

All marketing will be tightly focussed and designed to appeal to your target audience.
Your marketing company will create an emarketing campaign that is within budget and where ‘actions’ are fully accountable and measurable.

Your emarketing plan will contain a number of elements designed to maximise your visibility to potential customers and the media. This ‘marketing mix’ generally works much better than singular marketing activities carried out in isolation, which can result in a lack of momentum.

Your marketing company may be able to obtain discounts from relevant publications and advertising platforms by bulk-buying advertising slots.

Your chosen marketing company will be experts in social media and can arrange for you to have these elements (Facebook, Twitter etc) integrated seamlessly into your marketing campaign (if relevant).

As you have seen, there are many reasons for handing your fledgling business to an marketing company to work their magic.

By teaming up with the right specialists early on, you will ensure that your business starts off on the right foot so to speak, and keeps on heading in the right direction.

With So Many Self-Proclaimed Experts Online How Can I Find An SEO Consultant I Can Trust?

With so much misinformation online about what constitutes good SEO practise, finding the right SEO consultant to drive your business to the next level can be a real minefield.

You might think you can only lose money through employing the wrong ‘expert’ – and that in itself is bad enough. But what can also suffer too, is your reputation.

Enlisting the services of an SEO consultant who uses dubious or unethical techniques can do more damage to your business than by you not having a website in the first place. The worse case scenario being that the ‘fallout’ could be catastrophic.

So do make sure you choose a top quality SEO consultant – one that can prove his or her worth by showing you genuine testimonials from real people, together with real life case studies of businesses they have helped.

I’m always amazed when I come across websites who use people’s initials in front of testimonials and no company name. They smack of being made up. After all, why wouldn’t the CEO of a genuine company willingly give a glowing testimonial to a professional consultancy and allow their name to be used for this purpose? It defies logic. Please don’t fall for the explanation that “we do not provide testimonials as our clients’ details are confidential.”

Another warning sign to watch out for is someone who uses all the latest jargon or buzzwords in their pitch to you. So much so that it’s overkill. Could it be they are being deliberately vague or evasive by using words which sound like they’re related to the marketing industry, only you’re not sure what it all means for your business?

Another thing to beware of, do they talk too much about their SEO credentials and marketing solutions, without really taking the time to understand your business first? Do they talk too much in general? A professional SEO consultant will lead with the questions when they first meet with you. But they will also spend a long time listening to your answers and learning about your business before offering suitable and bespoke solutions that should make perfect sense to you.

And finally . . . their prices . . .

How straightforward and transparent is their pricing system. Will you have to pay a monthly retainer? How easily can you cancel the contract? What guarantees can they provide that they will achieve all they promise?

These are just a few indicators to watch out for when you are interviewing prospective SEO consultants to work with you in developing your business. Another good indicator is your gut reaction. If you get bad vibes about the person or company that is presenting to you, then just say no. You don’t have to justify your reasons.

Better that way round than to have to hire another SEO consultant to put the first one’s mistakes right.