When people think of marketing, they often mistake advertising for marketing. Instead, advertising is just one element of marketing, which includes other types of promotion, as well as pricing, distribution, and product — the classic 4Ps. But, there’s no denying the importance of advertising to a successful business. You need advertising to attract customers to your business. The classic notion often quoted from Ralph Waldo Emerson that
if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door
doesn’t reflect the reality that you need advertising to reach prospective customers and convince them you do, in fact, have a better mousetrap than your competitors.
Without advertising, no one knows what your business can offer or why they should choose your product in an increasingly competitive market. Although advertising eats up some of your budget and takes time to create and monitor, you really can’t expect success without spending some money on advertising.
Today, we’ll dive into how to build a successful advertising strategy designed to harness the power of advertising to attract customers and convince them to make a purchase.
Use advertising to attract customers
Show ads to your target market to optimize profits
Before doing anything else, you must construct an advertising strategy that fits your business goals and vision. And, don’t skimp by doing what’s cheap not what’s best. I once worked with a client who sold motorcycles and jet skis. He bragged about a great deal he found on cable advertising for only $10 per ad. Yeah, it was a great price, but he also didn’t reach his target audience as the bundle included several channels focused on women and other focused on home and garden programs. The commercials also ran predominately on weekends.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not being sexist just a realist. While women do buy motorcycles and jet skis, the buyers are predominately male and they’re out doing outdoor stuff on weekends so his target market didn’t see his ads. It was like flushing money down the toilet.
Another client spent her advertising budget on the radio. She sold English as a second language in our community consisting of large numbers of LatinX consumers. She found one radio station was much cheaper than the other, however, the cheaper station also attracted an older audience. Sure, some older LatinX consumers might pay to learn English, but a more likely target audience consists of younger consumers since learning English sets them up for jobs across a broader selection of employers and increases their chances of being hired.
Integrate messages across channels
A key to advertising success involves adapting your message to all the channels used so each ad reinforces your message regardless of whether the consumer hears your ad on the radio, sees it on TV or social, or gets a coupon in the mail.
Use the same color scheme for every element exposed to your market, including store signage and uniforms. Most companies establish a style guide that’s shared with everyone involved in marketing. A style guide contains your color scheme, think Starbucks’ green and white, as well as the font used and key images, such as your logo.
Remember, a consumer must see your ad somewhere between 5-7 times within their buying cycle to ensure they remember your ad and allow the ad to influence their attitudes toward your brand.
Carefully consider your message and spokesperson
A few years back, Tiger Woods got into a bit of trouble for his extramarital affairs and sponsors dropped him like a hot potato. Unfortunately, the damage was done and some sponsors struggled to shake off the negative association. The same thing happened on YouTube when PewDiePie spouted antisemitic, neo-Nazi rhetoric.
Some brands choose dead actors to promote their brands since a dead actor is unlikely to do anything to piss off your target market. Others use cartoon characters like the Geico gecko for the same reason. Still other brands don’t use a spokesperson at all, preferring to use an obscure actor like in the ad at the beginning of this post.
Your message is critically important. The message should present your brand in a favorable light and provide an incentive for consumers to buy your brand or at least to learn more about it. And, don’t piss off your market with something folks will find offensive, such as the ASUS ad below.
Call to action
Advertising, especially in print and digital, must contain a call to action that effectively drives traffic ready to purchase. Just as any good salesperson knows you ask for the sale before leaving a customer’s office, your advertising should detail exactly what action you expect your market to take.
The right call to action gets advertising to attract customers to your store, your website, or to call your business. Notice in the mobile ad at the beginning of this post, one ad received 48% more opens and over 200% more clicks. The overall design might contribute to some of that lift, but likely the improved call to action made a contribution, as well. Book Now (in the first ad) is just a little scary for many folks who might feel pressured to buy if they click the link while See Deals in the second ad reinforces the discounts and is less high pressure.
Testing and monitoring
You want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck from your advertising plan. Hence, testing and monitoring performance are key elements that allow you to improve performance and make sensible decisions about which ads to continue using and which you should halt.
Testing involves showing your ads to your target market, then evaluating performance based on increased awareness or change in attitude toward the brand. Usually, testing goes before you share your ad since you don’t want to waste money or take a chance of creating a poor image for your brand.
Monitoring is hard for traditional advertising channels since you don’t have much to track. For instance, how do you assess the performance of a TV commercial when there’s no direct action resulting from the ad?
That’s where direct and digital offer great opportunities to evaluate performance, as these channels commonly direct your market to a particular action, such as visiting your website or landing page, calling a toll-free number, or returning an inquiry card (called a BRC for business reply card.
Click this link to learn more about monitoring your digital strategy.
Types of advertising
You have options when it comes to choosing the channels for your advertising, including:
- outdoor advertising
- broadcast TV
- direct and digital
As you walk past companies, ride public transportation, or drive the highways, your encounter signs advertising various products. While many communities are getting rid of these forms of outdoor advertising as a nuisance and distraction, consider adding clear, bold outdoor signs on your building as a form of advertising to attract customers passing by. Outdoor signs remind customers about your business and effectively brand your business with positive associations.
This advertising channel should generate returns almost immediately so consider this type of advertising when you create your advertising strategy.
Use photos that are bright and a good fit for your target market; something meaningful and attractive. To continue to make your site look impressive during the darker months and evenings, you could invest in a LED sign or even a digital screen showing off various photos and videos throughout the day to allow passers-by to know instantly what you are about.
Broadcast TV and its cousin, cable TV, are still popular advertising options for major brands, although they’re often too expensive for small brands, as you can see in this chart. Broadcast TV offers huge reach for brands, especially on popular events, such as the Super Bowl.
Cable TV also offers some opportunities for targeting, since certain cable stations attract a fairly homogeneous market/
While sports offer a great option for brand advertising to attract customers, most other types of programming suffer because viewers often use techniques to avoid seeing ads, such as recording.
Another traditional channel for advertising to attract customers is radio. However, like TV, listeners increasingly choose paid platforms such as Pandora, Apple Music, and others to avoid commercials altogether.
Radio has some benefits for brands, including speed, since you can compose an ad and have it read on-air within a few hours. Radio also offers some targeting options as listeners tend to self-select different channels based on their interests.
Options for print are fast disappearing as newspapers and magazines shutter their offices. Instead, print channels more to a digital platform where they can reach more people with less expense than printing a traditional newspaper or magazine. Hence, today, most print now fits more into a digital strategy than a traditional strategy.
Direct and digital
The use of online advertising grows every year. By 2021, online advertising is projected to reach $330 billion, up from a mere $170 billion in 2015. In addition to social media platforms with their ability to reach highly targeted consumers, search ads produce a great ROI for businesses able to harness them effectively. Digital advertising also includes email marketing and other outreach efforts advertising to attract customers to your business.
Direct advertising is the precursor to digital advertising and now both are often lumped together since they share similar elements such as targeting, high ROI, and tracking metrics.
You must consider advertising to attract customers to your business and convert them, but you must effectively plan your advertising campaign, implement the plan across channels, and monitor performance to avoid wasting your advertising dollars.
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