Make the Right Advertising Decisions

Advertising is a powerful and somewhat frustrating marketing tool. It enables us to launch new products and services, increase sales, and increase awareness. However, it is an activity that often leaves us with unsettling questions. Am I wasting my money? Is there a better method, message, or media?

Unfortunately, when it comes to advertising, there are no standard answers. Advertising involves making the right decisions, and what may be right for one company is usually not appropriate for the next. If you want to answer the many questions you have, ensure that your dollars are generating a return, and take control of your advertising efforts, make sure that you have the following.

1. The Right Reason. Advertising can be a powerful ally, but only if done in a fashion to ensure you get the most out of every dollar you spend. First and foremost, start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What market do you want to reach? What reaction or action do you want from this market once reached? How is your advertising campaign going to prompt this reaction or action? Spending the time upfront to clarify these objectives will make you money in the end.

It is also important to remember that nobody knows your business like you do. Rely on ad representatives for their expertise in the industry, but realize that you have to make decisions that fit for your company. Don't be forced to make quick decisions due to impending deadlines.

2. The Right Plan. Look at advertising as one part of your marketing plan. Having the right plan means coordinating your efforts to get the most bang out of your buck. How will your advertising efforts fit in to all current marketing and promotional activity?

There are many ways to partner your advertising efforts with other marketing activities. For example, if you are engaging in direct mail or phone sales, ads should be timed to support these efforts! Also, take advantage of ad space to enhance your public relations efforts. Place your company in a positive light by advertising your community charity involvement. Communicate your intended message, but also add a line thanking employees who help local charities. Consider using ads as methods of showing customer appreciation and to communicate your awards, honors, and achievements. Don't clutter ads, but do make sure to view advertising as a multi-faceted opportunity.

3. The Right Medium. With clear objectives, your next challenge is to determine which media is going to be the most effective for you. We all have our preferences?some prefer print; others swear by radio or television. Put these biases away. Start with an idea of the target market you want to reach and answer the following questions: Are you trying to reach a general consumer or business? If businesses, what types? If consumers, what age range, financial bracket, and sex are they most likely to be? What activities, interests, and concerns tend to be shared among this population? Are you trying to appeal to this group on a local, national, regional, or international level?

With these answers, you can then begin a fact-finding mission. Get in touch with your local media representatives and let them know your objectives, exactly who you are trying to reach, and an idea of your advertising budget as a whole. Have them provide you with information on how the use of their media will reach your objectives and your market. You now can make an educated choice.

Along with considering traditional media (newspaper, radio, and television), realize that your goals may be best accomplished by engaging in non-traditional advertising venues. Inserts, Internet opportunities, door-hangers, billboards, and direct mailers are among the thousands of methods that may be the answer for you. Think outside of the box and seek professional assistance if you need someone to do the legwork for you. Those new to advertising often make the mistake of spreading funds too thin across several media, resulting in ineffective results. The world is ready to take your money; spend it wisely.

4. The Right Message. Unless you have millions of dollars in your advertising budget, don't try to mimic those who do. Make sure your ads have substance and by following the tried-and-true rules below:

Gain Attention! Your ad needs to stand up, stand out, and grab the attention of your market. Whether it is through the use of a simple, bold headline or a stunning sound or graphic?if you don't gain attention, you've wasted your money. Avoid the urge to squeeze everything in and strive for clarity. Capture your market and don't distract them.

Create Interest & Desire. Once they've seen or heard your ad, you have to make it clear why they should care! What makes your product, service, or company different, and why should the customer select you over others? What's in if for them? This is the meat of your message and where many organizations miss the boat. It's not about you; it's about your market.

Prompt Action. Once your market is interested, take it full circle. Prompt action. Offer an incentive for doing so whenever possible. Have them visit your Web site for additional information and special online coupons. Let them know they need to visit your store today while supplies last. Encourage them to call, as the first 50 responses will receive free information. Unless action is taken, you will be forgotten.

5. The Right Follow-Up. Advertising is an investment that requires a tracking system to ensure effectiveness. The action requested in your ad (which should always be present) needs to be monitored. For instance, if you are directing people to your Web site, you need to make sure you are able to track the number of daily visitors to your site. Did your hits increase due to your ads? If you are prompting people to call, those inquiring should be asked how they heard of you. Calls need to be logged, tracked, and reviewed. If you are prompting action in your ads, the right follow-up is all about information gathering. Make sure you have the systems and resources in place to meet anticipated response levels! Doing this will arm you with the information you need to make wise advertising decisions.

This article was published by Business Builders, a marketing outsourcing company that believes very strongly that the best way to gain loyal clients is to offer them valuable information. Their Web site, http://www.easyaspiemarketing.com, features many additional free marketing resources as well as their e-book, EasyAsPie Marketing available for purchase. For additional information, visit them at http://www.easyaspiemarketing.com

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