10 Guidelines for More Effective Advertising

Marketing Communications EffectivenessFor most companies, advertising is used on a very limited basis.

Even when it is used, rarely does a company spend enough money to create the kind of exposure that would be sufficient to create high customer demand or brand recognition.

What’s more, companies struggle to be able to “measure” the success of their advertising. This is due in large part to the fact that unless the advertising is sufficiently strong in relationship to other marketing elements (price, product quality, packaging, convenience of purchase, economic climate, competition), it is difficult to show a positive relationship between advertising and sales results.

With so much on the line, why is there so much bad advertising?

106478240One reason is that many companies view advertising as an investment rather than an expense because it provides a continuing payout over a period of time rather than a recoverable short-term cost.

This tends to lull companies into having vague and even conflicting goals for their advertising. See my Channel Instincts post “5 Essential Tips for Effective Advertising.”

Creativity springs from tightly defined problems  

Advertising EffectivenessIt really boils down to not having clear goals that are articulated in a creative brief that everyone agrees to and understands.

The smaller you can define the problem to be solved, the more focused and creative the solution will be.

Follow these 10 guidelines for more effective advertising

  1. Know why you are advertising and what you want to accomplish.  Set clear goals and design advertising to meet these goals.
  2. Don’t try to do too much with too few advertising dollars. Don’t spread your efforts too thin.
  3. Don’t choose an advertising medium based on its low rate rather than on its cost per thousand readers or listeners.
  4. Advertising too infrequently is often no better than not advertising at all.
  5. Don’t make advertisements bigger than they need to be. This will result in overspending.
  6. Don’t imitate the advertising of other companies. Your advertising needs and requirements are special and need to be based on careful analysis.
  7. Always judge an ad layout in the size and context of the medium in which it will appear.
  8. Always keep the “purpose” of the advertisement paramount in your mind when determining copy, layout and placement.
  9. Always design advertising keeping in mind the particular advantages of the medium utilized.
  10. Always capitalize on the inherent nature and unique advantages of the product, services or company advertised.

If you are using an advertising agency, don’t try to tell them how to do their job

Granted you are the industry expert, but they are the marketing communications experts.

You can avoid this concern by choosing an advertising agency with the proper expertise to service your account. Look for a good balance between marketing and creative ability as well as an intimate knowledge of your marketplace.

Good Selling!

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Has Social Media Made PR Obsolete?

In an age of social media, why PR?Social media has changed the role of public relations, not made it irrelevant.  The speed of breaking news on online channels has increased the need for planning and crafting of consistent messages to be able to quickly respond to current events.

Too often, it seems, the only time a company attracts media attention is when something goes wrong; a product recall, an environmental hazard, a labor strike, or some other problem that suddenly thrusts a firm into the harsh glare of the media spotlight.  Because of this, many companies tend to view the media as a necessary evil — or, at best, a friendly adversary.

Which is better: “No news is good news” or “Good news is no news?”

Extra Extra In its simplest form, the problem is really nothing more than a difference in perspective.  A company wants coverage for its products, policies, and programs, while the media is looking for an interesting and informative story.  Unfortunately, controversy sells better than commonplace, which means that the old maxim “No news is good news” isn’t nearly as true today as its inverse: “Good news is no news.”

Given this, how does a company get the word out when the word is good instead of bad?  And if the word is bad, how can you make sure you’ve minimized the damage your company may have suffered as a result of any “negative” coverage?

Dealing with the media can be a positive experience, however, as long as you view it as an opportunity to consistently get your company’s message across – good, bad, or otherwise.

PR is part of the marketing mix

PR is part of the marketing mixTo understand the difference between media relations activities that merely publicize and those that exert a strong influence on the marketplace, take a look at the advantages you gain from a solid public relations program.  A strong media relations program:

  • Is economical.  PR allows you to reach large audiences very inexpensively.  Compare PR to the high cost of advertising in today’s market.  Few companies have enough money to reach all of their prospects on a consistent basis.
  • Extends the reach of advertising.  All too often, advertising, social media and public relations compete for money and management’s attention.  To be truly effective, all should work in concert by getting a consistent message out to all buying influences.
  • Adds credibility.  We all realize that an ad — in the form of publication space, broadcast commercial, internet banner, billboard, brochure, or direct mail piece – is a paid message from the advertiser with the explicit goal of selling something.  We are more likely to believe a third-party endorsement in a publication’s editorial columns because the editor or reporter – not the company – is telling us about the company or product.
  • Measures interest.  If the news or trade media cover a product announcement and no one responds, either there is no market for the product, or you were reaching the wrong target audience.  Public relations allows you to easily determine whether your announcement’s appeal is universal or very narrow.
  • Generate leads.  Most management is volume-oriented.  In fact, some firms have developed lead generation into a science by determining exactly how many sales will result from every 1,000 inquiries.  Inquiries at least provide a starting point for your sales call, letting you focus your efforts on an audience that has some interest in your point-of-view.
  • Builds or rebuilds an image.  A company’s image is extremely fragile.  Late deliveries, product recalls, rumors and innuendos can severely cripple a firm’s ability to stay in business.  Solid and aggressive public relations efforts can counter problems, and entice customers to give the company another chance.

Public relations is about your whole company – not just promoting an item or a special.  It helps create a more robust – and controlled  – image of your company.

7 tips for getting your message published

8 tips for getting your message publishedHere are seven tips that can help assure that your experience with the media is a productive one, one that is mutually beneficial to you, to the editors and reporters you deal with, and to the audience you’re trying to reach:

  1. Make sure it’s news.  Generally speaking, “news” is a deviation from the norm, something that’s different or unusual.  That’s why bad news gets so much attention.  Since good news may not be considered news at all, you’ll have to search for an angle that will give your story appeal — things that play up uniqueness.
  2. Be accessible.  Return phone calls promptly.  If you don’t return a call promptly, your opportunity to tell your side of the story may be lost.  Your value also depends on your ability to give complete, accurate and timely information.  If you can’t give the facts, know who can offer the best prospective on a particular topic.
  3. Avoid mind-fogging jargon.  Most reporters are generalists.  Often, they will have little or no knowledge of your company or industry.  They need facts laid out clearly, concisely, and in an orderly fashion.  They don’t need unfamiliar acronyms, jargon, or technical talk; they need to know what’s significant and what isn’t.
  4. Never say “No comment.”  This is seen as a terse brush-off that implies something is amiss.  If you have a legitimate reason for not commenting, give some brief explanation of why you can’t comment.  It will make you and your organization more credible.
  5. Keep your writing crisp and to the point.  Start with a short, punchy headline.  Don’t try to cram every fact into the opening paragraph — save something for the paragraphs that follow.  Avoid glowing adjectives and fluff.
  6. Don’t be afraid to volunteer the bad story.  This is a difficult concept for most organizations to swallow.  By releasing the bad story as quickly and professionally as a good one, you retain some control over your destiny.  This helps avoid your being put in a defensive position later on, and adds to your credibility.
  7. Make your visuals memorable.  In our digital world, compelling visuals that help tell your story are a must.  Be sure to have videos, photos and logo available in multiple formats.

PR’s role has changed

PR+Social MediaPR’s role has changed but by employing the full mix of public relations and social media tools, and by measuring their impact on the marketplace, you’ll establish stronger relations — and higher visibility – with key media players.  That visibility will reinforce your company’s image and show that you are a winner.

5 Essential Tips for Effective Advertising

In too many companies, advertising is seen as throwing money out the window by finance and sales. The reason? Because brand managers don’t have ads that increase sales.

Brand managers do an awesome job of taking a lot of information and turning it into clear, compelling communications. Don’t make their job and harder by not following these 5 simple tips for creating more effective advertising.

Brand managers risk falling into the trap of trying to make their ads to be “all things to all people”

Many advertising budgets are only managed by brand managers. The money is owned by the product managers – who are really fighting against one another for their unfair share of the budget. Since dollars are so tight, they are expected to work harder than ever. That means everything and the kitchen sink gets put into the ad.

TipsTip #1: Have a goal that sales and finance agree to

No matter how simple this one sounds, it’s true. The agreement on what you are trying to do has to be a shared and bought-into goal. The CFO has to see a return on investment and the sales team has to believe that you aren’t wasting money that they’d just as soon like to use to lower prices.

Which is why driving sales is a logical goal for both the finance team and the sales team to agree to. And from experience, the product manager isn’t going to be too upset either.

Tip #2: Know who you are talking to – and why

Remember that product manager trying to drive sales? They now want this ad to be as broad as possible. Here’s an example that building product companies can relate to: having an ad that is written so generically that it “covers” architects, builders, remodelers, dealers, home centers and any consumers that see it too. Hello – that’s talking to no one.

Being able to focus on a specific group will allow the team to really dive into what make the product relevant for that group.  Having meaningful insights allow the team to write with benefits in mind, not a bunch of generic features.

Effective AdvertisingTip #3: What ONE THING do you want them to do

This is maybe a nice way of saying have a single message in your ad. With a single purpose behind that message. Let’s keep blaming the product manager (and I was one for many years).

That one magical ad has to move the needle. And that means throwing in as many products, features, and accessories as the space will hold. Stop! Even if your goal is education, don’t make the ad do the work for you. No one will read the ad and it certainly won’t increase product sales.

Tip #4: Give them a reason to do it with a clear call-to-action

Don’t lose your single-mindedness now, it’s go time. Turn the tables on the product manager. Is there an incentive that can be used to drive sales? A discount on an first purchase, a BOGO, a promotion, a coupon? Even if your goal is to only drive a lead, create incentives that will not only deliver the greatest numbers, but also the highest quality.

Effective Advertising2Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to be creative but the goal isn’t to win awards

You’ll find the team is more creative when the problem is focused on delivering against a very specific goal in a simple and compelling way. Don’t mistake this process as being easy. Having a narrow focus and a simple message is difficult and feels like you are making compromises.

By the same token, the goal isn’t awards, it’s sales. You’ll never see the sales team point to an ADDY, but they will certainly point to their sales charts – especially when they are overdriving their goals.

Good Selling!