by Joe Marconi
Got your attention? Great! Now let me tell you what I really think. Advertising DOES work. Did the title of this article grab your attention? You bet it did. I purposely phrased the title in that way in order to get your attention. That’s advertising.
There was a time when I only relied on word of mouth, the yellow pages and an occasional ad in the local paper. I would throw together an ad myself and when the results were poor, I would convince myself it was because advertising did not work when this simply was not true. In today’s world of business, if you don’t have effective advertising and marketing programs, you are going to find it nearly impossible to compete in the future.
The fact is, as business owners we need to be constantly thinking of ways to grow our companies, and advertising and marketing must be part of our business plans. The problem is that we are often unsure about the effectiveness of our advertising and feel that a lot of our advertising dollars are wasted. John Wanamaker, considered the father of both the modern department store and modern advertising, was quoted as saying: “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half.” Although there is some truth to this, it should not deter you away from advertising and marketing. There are things you can do to minimize the losses and increase the gains with an effective advertising plan. The rewards of an effective plan far outweigh the losses incurred when one of your ads or a promotion is not working.
Four years ago, when I was planning to build a new facility and expand my shop, I knew that in order to succeed I needed to gain market share in my area quickly, and could not rely on word of mouth alone. In order to grow at a faster pace, I needed to put together a comprehensive advertising/marketing program. With the help from a business consultant we set out to determine a few critical factors; who my profile customer is, what products and services I want to bring to the consumer, and where to find more of my profile customer. I want to share with you some of what I learned from my experience, and what forms of advertising are working for us.
– There are some who say advertising does not work; that’s a myth. The right advertising works and you need to find out what works for you. You need to conduct a demographics study of your current customer base and the consumer base in your potential market area. Establish what your business is all about, and what you bring to the market that sets you apart from your competition. Create a profile from your existing customer base to determine your ideal customer. Create an advertising program to attract more customers who fit your ideal profile. Find out where these people are in your market area and target these people. For example, if you are a high-end European service facility, catering to people who own Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and Audi, then your advertising must reach out to these people. Your advertising does not belong in a discount publication. Remember; don’t try to be everything to everyone.
– Don’t be afraid to try different forms of advertising; fear, sometimes keeps us from achieving our potential. If something does not work, stop doing it. Try something else. That’s not failure; you have just gained knowledge that you did not have before. Don’t try everything at once either, build upon your program. Also, you need a blend of call-to-action and branding. You don’t always need to offer a coupon or discount. With our radio ads, we give seasonal auto tips during peak drive times. Sometimes it’s better to brand your company by getting your name out, than offering a discounted service.
– Is word of mouth the best form of advertising? Yes and no. Word of mouth is great, but it can be too slow. Several years back, I considered word of mouth to be my best form of advertising, while the truth was; I really did not have a well thought-out plan.
– Many people say you can’t measure advertising. I don’t totally agree with that statement either. Every customer, new and existing, needs to be asked how they found you. You need to track and monitor this. I keep a spreadsheet of every contact I make; I want to know exactly how someone found us. This way I will know what works and what does not work.
– All your advertising must be consistent in the message, colors, and logos. When someone sees your company, whether it’s on your website, TV, promotional flyer or print ad, it must be easily recognizable. Branding is everything. Don’t send mixed messages. That does not mean you can’t have different themes. Geico Insurance uses multiples themes. We all know the gecko and caveman commercials and easily associate these ads with Geico. I recommend recruiting the help from a professional marketing company to help you create an effective program.
– The key to remember about advertising is that once you create a program along with a budget, you need to commit to that plan for the long haul. Your advertising must be consistent and continual. Inconsistent advertising does not work and actually ends up wasting valuable dollars.
– People will buy your product or service when they are ready to buy, not necessarily when you are ready to sell. Just because a direct marketing promotion did not yield the results you were looking for, does not mean it failed. Keeping your company in the mind of the consumer through consistent advertising is powerful, and will ultimately have positive results. Think of it this way; Dunkin Donuts does not expect you to jump off your couch every time it airs a TV commercial, does it? No. The purpose of the commercial is to keep embedding the Dunkin Donuts brand into your mind, which in turn increases their odds that you will choose Dunkin Donuts the next time you are traveling down the road looking for coffee and donuts.
After two years since starting our new marketing program, we now concentrate on TV, Radio, Internet marketing, email marketing and social media. This is what is working for us now. It may change in the future. That’s business. You need to do your homework and find out what will work for you. You will need to continually monitor and measure the effectiveness and make changes as you see fit, it’s an on-going process.
Let me leave you with these thoughts; if you are not willing to advertise to your customer, I promise you, someone else will. Don’t get discouraged either; it takes time to establish your company in the market place. It’s like planting seeds; it takes time to see something growing from the earth.
So, let me rephrase the title of this article: Advertising Does Not Work, the Right Advertising Works!
This article was contributed by Joe Marconi of Elite. Joe is one of the 1-on-1 business coaches who helps shop owners build more successful businesses through the Elite Coaching Program, and is the co-founder of autoshopowner.com.