Ad Talk 101 Blog

Straight Talk about Advertising
December 9, 2014

Can Small Business Compete with Big Chains in the Online Marketing World?

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

With online advertising, like traditional media advertising, large businesses have obvious advantages. But they have weaknesses too. With online advertising, small businesses can be successful by applying a certain tactic of guerilla marketing. That tactic is to focus and concentrate resources.

Trout and Reis explained it best in their book Marketing Warfare where they define the Principles of Guerilla Warfare. They give three principles of which Principle Number One is the key to how a small business can successfully compete online with a bigger business. It says

Identify a segment that is small enough to defend.

Where the big business can afford to hire enough people to work many social media outlets, buy lots of advertising on many media, or advertise over a large geographic area, the small business can concentrate their resources. While they may not have the ability to manage a bunch of social media accounts, the small business may have the ability to out market the bigger business in one or two social media. While the small business may not be able to buy more advertising than the big business can in a 20 county market area, the small business may have enough advertising budget to dominate two or three counties.

With Cost Per Click Advertising, there are many ways the small business can shrink the parameters down to a size where they can compete. With Cost Per Click, the media will do whatever it can to get enough clicks to capture the budget you set. So the advertisers with the bigger budgets have an inherent advantage because the online media has to show their ads more to capture the bigger budget. However, the smaller business can compete by narrowing parameters like the time of day their ads appear, the geographic area where their ads appear, focusing keywords, or placement of ads by the devices the ads appear on, or in the case of banner ads, the sites they appear on. Depending on how a campaign is focused, whether it’s limited to a geographic area, time of day, or devices and websites, the online media has to show your ads more in those focused parameters in order to get enough clicks to capture your total budget, and they don’t want to leave money on the table.

Online digital marketing, whether it is social media cost per click, or SEO can be very time consuming and complicated. So if you do not have the time to manage an online campaign or the time to learn how to do it, you may want to find a person or firm that can handle it for you. In our next blog, we’ll talk about what to look for when shopping for someone to manage your digital online advertising.

September 17, 2012

Hot Advertising Idea for 4th Quarter!

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a great new way to do direct mail at a low cost.  Whether you are an experienced direct mail advertiser or new to direct mail, the United States Post Office program is a great way to save money or get into direct mail for the first time.

Over the past ten years our agency has backed off direct mail because of the high postage rates and the need for timely arrival.  But now with EDDM postage is just 14.5 cents per piece and we at Aim have a system to target postal routes by income.

I never thought I would be promoting direct mail again, but the Every Door Direct Mail® program is a good solution for a small business, making it practical to do direct mail on a relatively small budget.  Here’s how it works:

1.    Open a business account on the USPS site.

2.    Use their mapping tool to target carrier routes and get counts.

3.    Have your printer bundle the printed pieces in stacks of 50.

4.    Deliver to the post office no address or bulk mail permit needed.

The Post Office always had a way to save money with bulk mail if you were willing to do a lot of the work yourself.  But the problem was you had to have a bulk mail permit and understand the process.  The EDDM program makes it easier to take advantage of the discounts by not requiring the bulk mail permit.  It also lowers expenses by making it possible to mail without labeling, and has simplified the processing and delivery for the customer.

A very important advantage of the EDDM program is the local delivery system.  Instead of your mail going to one location to sort and it gets distributed to all the local offices, you take it directly to the local offices.  This process bypasses the Post Office distribution system, making it easier to make sure your mail hits at the right time.  Timing is a big issue.

The savings typically are a third to almost half.  Where we have done 5,000 piece mailings for some of our clients, with EDDM we can mail 10,000 pieces for about the same price.  So if you would like to include direct mail as part of your Christmas advertising, you still have time to get it started.  But don’t wait too long. You still need some lead-time.

AIM Advertising has taken the EDDM to a new level by avoiding saturation mailings to home that do not fit your target.  We have combined EDDM with a program that sorts routes by household income and home values. This way we can target and save you even more.

(Example, you would not want to mail a piece on pellet stoves to a rental property)

For your most important 4th quarter this year the Every Door Direct just may be the vehicle you have been looking for.  Call us or go up to the USPS site and get going.

May 24, 2012

Throwing Money Down A Dark Hole?

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

Not caring about the effectiveness of your advertising usually means you are wasting money. The efficiency can be measured best on the Internet, but mass media advertising can also be tracked through your Internet site.

The aim of advertising is either increase in sales or building brand. In our 30 years of advertising experience, we have never had a tool that can track results for advertising like Google Analytics. If your business does not have a web page advertising strategy you are missing the most important detail in marketing your business. At the end of this article, you will see a graph that tracked radio and digital screen advertising using Google event tracking.

Stop advertising everywhere until you can track it!

Here are the four main components of an online presence that every small business should evaluate.

  1. Interactive Website
    In the old days, websites required understanding programming languages to build and update. This could often be very costly for businesses, because businesses evolve and change. We add new services, we add new products, and sometimes our key employees change and all these things require website updates.The good news is technology has changed. There are now open source templates that can be built to grow with your business. Today even your receptionist can easily update websites. For your site to serve as an online marketing tool it must be fresh, up-to-date and growing with your industry.
  2. Content Marketing
    Content has become more important. Content is about sharing information about your industry and your business with your target market. Content plays a vital role in getting ranked in search engines and it also helps to build credibility and trust with those that are interested in what you have to offer. It takes a commitment and it takes consistency, but it can help you in creating an online presence that changes your business.
  3. Search Marketing
    Search marketing is the difference of whether people find you or not when searching for your targeted keywords. Do you have your top 10 key words in your site? Google your targeted keywords and see for yourself. This is something you shouldn’t take lightly, because it means your target market is finding your competitors, not you.
  4. Social Media Marketing
    At this point you may not understand social media marketing, but again it’s something that cannot be ignored. Social media marketing that might work for you are:
    • Twitter – A network of strangers.
    • LinkedIn – A network for professionals.
    • Facebook – A network of family and friends.
    • Google+ – A growing network that will combine all of the above and impact your search results.

There are other components that can aid in creating an interactive and effective online presence for your business, but before you go one step further with your marketing you must have the four components listed above in place and running smoothly. Once you’ve done that you can move into the next level and create a marketing powerhouse online for your business.

Moving ahead with mass media marketing before you fix your web is premature. Until you have a gauge for what is working in your advertising moving ahead will only make more work and cost you more money rather than drive more business.

March 15, 2012

Converting Advertising Strategies from the 1900’s to the 2000’s

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

As we learn the many new ways to advertise created by new digital media, are we forgetting some advertising basics?  Why do we advertise?  To break it down to its simplest form, we advertise for one of the following reasons:

  1. To increase awareness of a product or service, so when someone needs that product or service, the one with the most awareness gets the best chance of making a sale.  This is called top of mind awareness (TOMA).
  2. To solve a problem, whether it be a dip in traffic, too much inventory or some other situation that can be solved by getting the word out.
  3. To take advantage of an opportunity, such as the closing of a competing business, a big price advantage over competitors, an event going on that you can capitalize on, or having the product or service needed at just the right time.

While there could be other reasons to advertise, if you break it down to basics, most reasons will fall under the above three categories.

Increasing awareness (TOMA advertising) has always been one of the most powerful ways to grow a business.  It is a proven fact (http://www.toma.com/workshops.htm) that the amount of awareness of a product or service directly correlates to share of market for that product or service.  But changes in consumer habits have changed everything: where it used to be as easy as just running a consistent ad flight in the newspaper, radio or TV, factors such as the cost of the ads, diminishing audience for the ads and changing consumer-shopping habits have all created new challenges.

The cost/reach ratio of traditional media has made TOMA advertising very expensive.  At the same time, even when consumers think of your brand first, it is easy to go to the Internet to research or compare prices. When consumers go to the internet, it increases the chance that even the most well-known brands could lose to a competitor that may appear above them in a search engine, be linked to related sites or a variety of other ways they are found on the internet.

So what’s replacing the traditional way to gain top of mind awareness?  The bad news is there are few ways that are as easy as buying some ads and sitting back while the media does the work.  However, one new medium that may work similar to traditional media, but costs less and is still effective, is Place Based Media, also known as Digital Signage. You’ve seen them in hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and many public places where there are large numbers of people. Digital Signage works much like traditional media, only better, because the audiences are clearly defined based on the location of the advertising.  Plus, the audiences can be as big or bigger than traditional media, while costing much less.

Social Media, email marketing, and banner advertising are other ways to stay in front of your potential customers using new media.  As you may know, Social Media takes a lot of your time.  You have to build a following and continue to communicate with your followers.  We have found social networking works better for some businesses than others, especially social businesses such as radio stations, amusement parks, and bowling alleys. If your business has a social aspect, then social media can be very effective.  Business to business social networking is good on a site such as LinkedIn.  However, retail stores have a harder time because people do not want stores trying to sell things to them.

Banner advertising on Facebook under the sponsored ads and Google AdWords are very good ways to keep your name in front of a select group of potential customers.  Finally, email marketing is one of the best ways to keep high awareness among your best customers, which are people who subscribe to your emails.

Using new media to solve problems or take advantage of opportunities is a little more challenging.  If you do not have a big email list or fan base on Facebook, there are few ways you can reach a lot of people quickly for events like sales.  However, if you do have a large following on Facebook and do have a large email list, you can reach your best customers and followers quickly and with a great deal of impact. One other good way to reach many people quickly is with Facebook sponsored ads.

Finally, one of the hottest new ways of marketing in the digital age is Search Engine Marketing. Search engines on the Internet have been the biggest factor in changing how the consumer shops and buys. This form of advertising is unique to anything we did in the 1900’s.  The fundamental difference is instead of the advertisers reaching out to the consumer, the consumer reaches out to the advertisers.  The trick is to be there, where and when the consumer is reaching out.  This form of advertising does not correlate with any of the traditional forms.  But as the universe of consumers who shop on line grows, Search Engine Advertising will become one of the most important ways to grow your business.

January 10, 2012

Are We Too Busy to Read?

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

When asked what made him so successful, Wayne Gretzky answered, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  This is a great analogy for success in business.

More than ever today, the key to business success is to get ahead of the trend. Do not look at other experts, markets, and trends to see where you should be.  Look to where those experts, markets, and trends need to be in the future.

Here at Aim, we have always embraced new ideas and try to see what new ideas will be in demand in the future.  When we are confident in where to position our business in the future, we position ourselves there now.  This takes a leap of faith.  But now more than ever, future successes will go to the companies that are willing to take that leap.

Here are five trends in marketing that may help you see where you need to be today to be in the right place in the future:

1.     Less reading and more graphic, video and audio advertising – More and more, people do not want to read. From our experience and observations, as well as trends that we have followed over many years, it is clear that if people are given a choice of watching a video or reading a newspaper article, they will watch the video.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world just behind Google.  If people have the opportunity to listen to a book in audio or read it, more will be listening.

So where should you be with you advertising for the future?  Obviously, less printed word and more pictures, video and audio.

2.     Continued growth of social networking – When people talk about social networking, we usually think of the Internet.  But social networking has always been around in the form of in-person events such as chamber of commerce mixers, trade shows, trade association events, and municipal associations to name just a few. What is changing is not just the way we socialize, but also the importance of socializing.  People today are more cautious about who they do business with and who they get to know.

3.     Use of social media – So what can you do to increase your social reach? First, determine how social networking fits into your business objective. What is more effective: social networking on the Internet or in person? Just about any business should at least have a presence on Facebook. But traditional retail may not find Facebook as effective as in-person events like expositions and in-person promotions. Entertainment-type businesses such as restaurants, amusement parks, or bowling centers may find Facebook very powerful.  Finally, do not confuse social media with other types of Internet marketing. (Collaborative networks such as Wikipedia, blogs and micro blogs such as Twitter, or content communities such as Flicker and YouTube.)  These types of web sites offer a wide variety of ways to market beyond the social aspect.  You can learn more about marketing with these types of Internet sites at our blog at adtalk101.com

4.     Web site design simplified – We believe the most successful web sites will be the ones that are the simplest to use and easiest to find what you are looking for quickly. That’s how Yahoo beat Lycos, Alta Vista and Info Seek. Remember them? Then Google came along and beat Yahoo. Why? Compared to Yahoo, Google loaded faster and was easier to use because it took less effort to figure out how to start searching.  While Google has a ton of good stuff behind the home page, their main search page has almost nothing on it except two buttons: Google Search and I’m Feeling Lucky. Then at the top there is a very simple and easy to understand menu.  With mobile being the single fastest growing segment in the world of digital marketing, busy web sites with everything on the home page including the kitchen sink just will not fly.

If your web site is cluttered, consider simplifying it.  While you want as much relevant content as possible on your site, don’t try to cram it into too few pages.

5.     Spend Less on advertising and more on making your product unique – There was a day when all it took to build a business or increase your existing business was to have a good product or service and buy some ads in the newspaper, radio or TV.  But like Seth Godin explains in his book Purple Cow, it is often cheaper to do something remarkable with your business than to be ordinary and grow your business with traditional advertising.  He offers many examples of businesses that did something remarkable with their product or business, which enabled them to grow their businesses with less advertising.  The reason he gives is a remarkable product or business idea can be grown through a core audience of loyal customers who will spread the word for you.  You’ve heard word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  That certainly is true if it spreads fast enough.  Today, if you create a remarkable product or business, with the help of the Internet, it can be much more economical to spend more on the product or business model and less on traditional advertising methods.

So if you have a business, what can you do to be remarkable?  Ideas that you probably would have rejected because of cost may make sense when you consider the power of the idea, and how little you will need to spend to get it take off. Forty years ago, Hertz, and then Avis, built huge businesses using traditional media. Then Enterprise did something that made the operation of their business more expensive than Hertz and Avis…but it was remarkable. Enterprise Picks You Up. With very little advertising compared to what Hertz and Avis spent 40 years earlier, Enterprise in a very short time grew to three times the size of Hertz, which used to be the number one car rental company in the country.

I hope these suggestions help you in the coming year.  Have a Great 2012.

October 5, 2011

Small Business, Small Market – How to Market with Social Media Effectively

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

There are lots of “how-to” articles and blogs on social media marketing. If it seems to you that most of them are geared toward big companies, you are not alone. Who else can wade through all the social media sites, understand how each one works, and figure out how to apply the best social media to market their business?

The biggest objection we’ve heard from businesses across Pennsylvania from Lancaster to Williamsport to The Poconos, is using social media takes too much time. Small business people have to wear too many hats, so they do not have the time to learn about all the types of social media, let alone maintain a social media marketing program.

Why do you need to have a social media marketing plan? Because it is the next stage of the digital age which has put the audience in control, making traditional advertising methods less relevant. So if you are not learning how to use social media, you will be at a big disadvantage.

How To Start

Choose the social media sites that make the most sense for your business. This is simpler than it might seem. While there are 201 social media sites listed on Wikipedia, for most businesses in smaller markets, most of them are not worth investing in. Retail businesses wanting to reach small geographic areas need social media sites that reach enough people in their area to be effective. Because the internet is world wide, you need to choose the sites with the largest user base. But first, let’s look at the types of social media sites. According to Kaplan and Haenlein of ESCP Europe, there are six different types of social media:

    1. collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia),
    2. blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter),
    3. content communities (e.g. Youtube,),
    4. social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn),
    5. virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft), and
    6. virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life, The Sims).

One social media type I think they missed is Location Based social media (e.g. Foursquare)

Now decide which types of the social media sites make most sense for you.

Wikipedia

Collaborative sites like Wikipedia may be a limited way to market since you can not advertise on it and it is very difficult to get a story on the site. One way we have been able to get on Wikipedia is by finding a way to be relevant to an existing story on Wikipedia. Now, Wikipedia aside, let’s focus on the sites with enough users to be useful for small market businesses. At this point in time that would be Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Here are the approximate user bases for five of the top social media sites.

  • Facebook – 700,000,000
  • Youtube – 490,000,000
  • Twitter – 200,000,000
  • LinkedIn – 54,000,000
  • Foursquare – 10,000,000

Facebook has about 80,000 to 90,000 user within 50 miles of Lewisburg, PA. Half of all Twitter users (about 100,000,000) are in the US. That’s about one third of the population. Since the LinkedIn world is focused on business people, 54,000 is a good number. I recently looked for the number of LinkedIn users within 50 miles of Lancaster, Williamsport and Scranton and found about 200,000.

Facebook

Not only does Facebook have the most users, it also has the most ways to touch and interact with the audience. You can buy advertising two ways. One way is with a Sponsored Ad. The other is with a Paid Story. A Sponsored Ad is one of those little square ads you see in the banner on the right. These ads can be seen by anyone on Facebook. One of the great powers of this form of advertising is the ability to reach a lot of people in small markets for very low cost, and the ability to target using the huge database of Facebook user profiles. A Paid Story can be seen only by friends and fans (fans are people who Like you on Facebook) in your news feed. In order to run Paid Stories you will need to install Facebook Insights. You can advertise to your friends or fans for free.

What is the difference between fans and friends? From a marketing viewpoint, the main difference is friends can write on your wall and you can write on your friends’ walls. Fans can write on your wall however you can not write on your friends’ walls. Why is this an important distinction? When you write on a friend’s wall, all of their friends can see it in their newsfeeds. That increases the reach of your communication times the number of friends your friend has. If you wrote on the wall of 20 friends and each of those friends had 250 friends, your communication would be seen by 5,000 people. Not only is this a pretty good sized number, but if you choose friends that are interested in what you posted, chances are a lot of their friends may be too. Fans only see what you write on your wall in their newsfeeds.

This is fundamental about Facebook for businesses. There are two types of accounts on Facebook: personal accounts and business accounts. Only personal accounts can have friends. Business accounts can only have fans. Businesses can not open personal accounts, so the objective of a business account is to build up a fan base. A fan base is like a mailing list. But on Facebook, you can reach out more often and in many different ways to stay in touch with your best customers and potential customers by appearing in their newsfeeds.

In order to get the advantage of having friends, some businesses create personal accounts for mascots or fictional characters that represent their businesses. This way they can reach out through their friends to potentially 25 million people. An amusement park can have an account for their mascot. A car dealer can have an account for their comical radio spokesperson. But one important thing to keep in mind if you write on walls for a business objective, you need to avoid selling and focus on having fun.

Youtube

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world, second only to Google. Youtube is less a stand-alone social networking site than Facebook. It is best used along with other referring sites such as social media sites, company web sites, and mobile phone apps.

Twitter

Twitter is more of a news site, but has its uses for business. One of the best uses of Twitter is to build a reputation as an expert. How that works is people find you through various methods such as search engines like the Adobe Tweet Deck or Twitter’s search engine. If they like what you are tweeting, whether it is social or business information, they can choose to follow you. Once someone becomes a follower, they can see all your tweets just like your friends can see your Facebook posts. Another very popular use of Twitter is for employment advertising.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is much like Facebook, but focuses on business. It works much the same way as Facebook. Instead of a newsfeed, LinkedIn calls it an update. Instead of writing an update status on Facebook, you share an update on LinkedIn. I know some people who have had success with social marketing on LinkedIn to get jobs.

You also can buy advertising on LinkedIn. Purchasing ads on LinkedIn works very much the same as buying Sponsored Ads on Facebook. We have not yet experimented with LinkedIn Advertising, but I have read many favorable reviews on the internet. It makes sense for business to business advertising. We will let you know how it works out when we give it a try.

September 27, 2010

Advertise for Free or Close To It – Part 3: Social Media

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips - Tags:

Everyone is talking about social media, but how many people are really working it? Although it is free to get on Facebook or Twitter, the problem with advertising through social media is time and making it work takes many man-hours. In fact, few small businesses have the time it takes to really make social media work.

When Facebook first started happening, one large company in the Harrisburg, PA area went on Facebook to start promoting and found their customers were posting negative comments about them. As the number of friends increased they found the need for a larger staff working full time to clean up the negative comments about their business.

Earlier this year a client we know began building a friends list. Within a very short time they had the maximum 5,000 friends and eventually as many as 200,000 fans.  It takes on person in the marketing department about two hours a day to work Facebook and a second person spends about an hour a day working Twitter. The time is spent first reviewing all the comments on their Facebook accounts. With 5,000 friends you may imagine, this can take some time. The next thing they do is post new comments talking about various things going on at the business, which are of interest to their friends and fan base. What do they get for all this work? Through Facebook they can get up to 200,000 impressions every two days. Not bad for working about ten hours a week.

There are over half a billion Facebook users and about 105 million Twitter users but Twitter is quickly growing and should become part of your social marketing strategy. News travels fast on Twitter and many of your customers use it to communicate daily. Download the Tweet Deck and start sorting and organizing your tweets!

Social Media - You need to be involved

Social Media - You need to be involved

Print Advertising Marries Digital Advertising

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

You may have seen them in you favorite magazine, they are called two dimensional bar codes and look something like this:

QR Code for smart phones

QR Code for smart phones

A great way to give your printed direct mail piece some extra punch or bring any type of printed material to life is by placing one or more of these images within your printed piece.

Here’s how it works. You would need a smart phone to download an application designed to run on your particular phone (iPhone, Black Berry, Android). This application would be able to recognize the code using its camera lens and get the instructions from the code such as get a coupon, go to a web site or play a video.

AIM applied this technology to a direct mail piece in September. Although smart phones are just starting to take off in our area, we expect this concept to become widely used in the near future. To demonstrate, download the application for your particular phone here (iTunes app store or Android market) and load the application. Then launch the application. You’ll see the camera on your phone come on. Hold the phone over the image above so the camera can see it and line it up until the phone reads the image. Then, it will take you to one of our videos. You can now use this application whenever you see it in your favorite magazine or many other soon to be seen places.

July 30, 2010

Internet Marketing Is Getting Even More Powerful

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips

If you’ve been following our blogs, you know our company is always aggressively looking for ways to improve and increase return on our clients’ investments. One of the most exciting new concepts is email marketing. You may have heard success stories from business people using email marketing or advertising companies like ours, who are offering the service. But this month we asked one of our clients to tell of the results he has seen since he began his Internet strategy employing email marketing.

Check out this video of Keith Phelps, General Manager of Country Farm and Home Gift and Garden Center in Mifflinburg, PA:

This is a great time to look seriously at all the new internet technology available and how it can be employed to market your business. If you are doing as much traditional media advertising as you did 10 or even 5 years ago, you are probably wasting a lot of money. The minimum Internet strategy for most businesses today should include the following:

  • A good Internet site built by people who understand how to optimize for high rankings on search engines.
  • A plan to build an email list of prosective and current customers
  • An email marketing plan

Once you have a great website, email list and email marketing (E-Blast) plan, you can take it further by creating a blog page on your site and using social sites such as Twitter and Facebook to bring people to your site and find prospective new customers.

December 31, 2009

Planning Your Advertising for 2010

Author: Mark - Categories: Advertising Tips - Tags: , , , , ,

With the current economic downturn and digital initiatives changing all the rules, if you’re not planning your advertising a year ahead, this is the year you should start.

Start with a Review

First, review your advertising from the past year and determine what gave you enough results to consider doing it again.

Rule of thumb: If something is working, keep doing it until it stops!

If you are unable to determine with any certainty what worked, then assume nothing worked and make it a priority to determine how you are going to track your ads in the coming year.

How Can You Track Your Advertising?

There are many ways to track advertising. The accuracy of the tracking will depend on the form of advertising you are doing, the method, and your diligence.

Advertising such as billboards or radio are harder to track than direct mail, digital, and print. It is important to plan how you are going to track your advertising when you are deciding what media you intend to use. If you choose radio or billboard you will need to incorporate creativity to effectively track your results.

Here are some effective ways we have found to track mass media advertising, based on our experience working with advertisers in Central Pennsylvania and beyond:

1. Do a monthly drawing for a prize giveaway each month for at least a year to build data. Offer a prize like dinner for two at a nice restaurant. On the registration include a questioner such as what radio station have you listened to and what newspaper have you read in the past day or two. This is better than asking, “How did you hear about us” because people rarely remember. If over a period of three to six months you see a trend of more mentions for the media you are using, that is a good indication that media is working. This is also a great way to build a mail and email list.

2. Surveying with the right question may be all it takes, but you need to be diligent in asking. Sylvan Learning Center’s national call center asks the question “what made you call us today.” The key word is today. Since most advertising works after the message is delivered numerous times, it is likely the respondent will think back and remember the last time they were exposed to a Sylvan ad.

3. Ask your customers directly if they have seen or heard your ad in the specific media you are using. While some may consider this to be aided questioning, I believe the majority of people will not tell you they saw or heard your ad if they did not. But there is a possibility of the respondent telling you what they think you want to hear. So this method takes some intuition on the part of the surveyor.

4. Coupons are certainly a tried and true method. But consider that when you use coupons you are also testing the strength of the offer and any other part of your over-all marketing strategy. Your ad may reach a large audience but if the coupon is not suited to the product or service and if the audience and product are not well matched then it is likely no offer will get you results.

5. Compare records from one year to the next. Do this over a period of three or four years and you should begin to see trends that can be very good indicators as to the success of your advertising and your marketing plan. Keep daily records of:

a. The number of customers in the store
b. The number of sales
c. Where each customer lives
d. The average amount of each sale each month
e. Weather conditions
f. Competitive business activities
g. Internal operations such as employees off or other special situations

Choose Your Advertising Media

You will need a marketing strategy to help you determine what media to use. The marketing strategy will help determine factors such as the target market demographics, life styles, and geography. Many businesses are moving away from traditional mass media in favor of more targeted digital media. Some advertisers will get so excited about the results they get from advertising methods such as emails they will stop all other forms of advertising. Others will use powerful media such as email in moderation and use a media mix to reach out to new customers as well as targeting their existing customer bases.

Web Sites
One media everyone should use in some form or another is the Internet. Creating a basic web site is relatively cheap and easy to do. Plus it is becoming expected that all businesses have a presence on the Internet beyond a listing on the phone book pages. If a web site is not something your customers would use as a rule, you should still have one just for credibility and basic information.

That being said, your web site may or may not be an integral part of your advertising strategy. This will depend on your business model and how you determine to best attract customers. If your business is based on walk in customers like a quick lube business, your web site may not be a focus of your advertising effort. But if your quick lube offers on-line coupons or you want your customers to make appointments then your web site could then be a very important part of your advertising.

Traditional Media – A Few Things to Consider
Traditional media such as radio, cable, TV, billboard and newspaper are still the primary mass advertising media in Central Pennsylvania. Due to technology, consumer habits are changing. Time spent with traditional media is shrinking and the fractionalization of channels plus intrusive on-demand and digital video recorders are making these medias less attractive to advertisers. While billboard messages are limited, they can target audience geographically, and billboard is the only mass media not losing audience.

To preserve their value and compensate for loss of audience, radio stations in Central Pennsylvania have lowered rates… but buy with caution. Cheap is not always best. Stations package their strength with their weakness and 30 seconds is the new one-minute ad. Remember being creative is very hard to achieve in a small time frame. Some stations are also offering special rates if the advertiser runs at less premium time, so remember when you pay less you get less. The newspapers are also lowering rates, but like radio, you should be aware that low rates may also mean less return.

Rule of Thumb: Assume when media is offering a package, they offer it to solve their inventory problem, not your advertising objective.

New Media – Digital Media
There are many forms of new digital media. The most well know form is the e-blast or email marketing. This is a form of advertising almost any business can use cost effectively. We recommend you use one of the major companies providing e-mail marketing services such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Without any computer skills, these companies make it easy to set up a great looking e-mail to send to your mailing list. Another huge advantage to e-blast is the ability to track. When you use one of the professional e-mail marketing companies they offer ways to see how many people actually click on your e-mails as well as other information. Never send an e-blast without an opt-out option.

Most of the new digital media you are hearing about are NOT MASS MEDIA. E-blasts are targeted marketing. Targeted marketing is always most efficient if you can zero in on your target New media such as social media services Facebook, Myspace and Twitter have not yet proven to be efficient due to the amount of time and effort needed to work the sites. Another new digital concept that has had a lot of notice this past year is text messaging. Again, this concept is still ahead of it’s time because the number of people using text messaging regularly is limited, especially here in Central Pennsylvania. Another problem with texting is it costs the user money. Very few people want to spend money to receive an advertising message. However, in time we believe as the cost comes down and more people adopt this method of communication, texting will become more viable.

There is one other form of new digital media that is actually somewhat of a cross between mass media and targeted media. Digital sign networks have the ability to reach audiences as large or larger than traditional mass media. At the same time digital signage can target audiences by location. This is sometimes referred to as place based advertising. If you want to reach tourists, advertising on a digital sign network located at a tourist destination has proven successful for many advertisers in Central Pennsylvania. Beware of the perception that people do not look at digital signs. This perception is being created by traditional media threatened by digital signage because of its ability to reach large audiences much cheaper. Plus, digital signage has the ability to be very flexible with the ability to program the ads on the video screens across networks instantaneously from one remote location. One other very powerful use of digital signage is at point of sale. It is widely known that point of sale advertising is effective because in most cases the best time to advertise to an audience is as close to the time when they are making purchase decisions. If you are a retailer or even a professional office such as a dentist, seriously consider how digital signage can increase your sales.

Media Mix
This year, we are recommending our clients learn how to utilize the best of all worlds with a media mix of new digital media and traditional media. Traditional mass media is and will probably always be, important to reach new customers. Once customers are developed, targeted media like e-mail comes into play.

How Much Should I Spend On Advertising?

There is no simple answer to this question. A good place to start is by looking at what advertisers in your industry spent last year as an average. You can see this information by downloading this document containing average advertising expenditures by most industries. This information will tell you if you are spending over or under the national average. If you are a new business or launching a new product or service, you will probably need to spend more. If you are established and have a good marketing plan with an efficient advertising program you may be able to spend less.

If you would like to know more about planning an advertising or marketing strategy, or would like a free one hour consultation on the subject, please contact AIM at 1-800-598-5038