Excerpts from Advertising Without an Agency
Radio is the "Theater of the Mind," but isn't it fleeting? Will anyone be listening to the station your ad is on for that particular :30 or :60 second slot?
Television provides both audio and visual. But doesn't it limit you creatively to the size of your television screen? With all the cable channels and fast forwarding through commercials, how much of your message actually gets through?
Outdoor Advertising is out there from dawn to dusk. But doesn't that limit you to the same travelers day in and day out?
Print is there for you to re-read, circle, and clip out. But is circulation going down? Who has the time to read the paper from cover to cover these days? How many people will actually read the page your ad is on?
Direct Mail can blanket entire or specific communities. But do people read flyers and inserts or do they think of them as "junk mail"?
Yellow Page advertising lends credibility to your business. But do you really want to be jammed on a page with all of your competitors? Do you want your expensive ad leading consumers to your competitors who not only share the page but may have a larger ad?
The Internet is new and itís difficult to tell how well banner ads and click-throughs work. In fact only one of of 50-100 people who see banners actually click on them!
Now that your advertising anxieties have been raised to a new level, letís take a look at this business from the inside. I hope this book succeeds in taking some of the mystery out of the advertising process, arms you with material to remove much of the guesswork and frustration you may have experienced in the past and allows you to work those advertising dollars harder than ever to grow your business.
Remember that advertising's only job is to make that phone ring, increase traffic in your store, and generate interest in your product or service. Once that response has been achieved it's up to you to come through with friendly, helpful, knowledgeable employees, effective follow through on sales or new clients, and all of the other aspects that go into maintaining consumer or client interest that your advertising has generated.
Advertising takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. There are many ways to let people know youíre open for business. Whether you start by putting flyers on windshields in local parking lots, strive to bring people to your web site, or dive right into a multi-media campaign, your decisions will be greatly influenced by the budget you have in place. It is critical that advertising has a place in your business plan. A friend once told me that trying to attract customers without advertising is like winking at someone in the dark. Youíre the only one who knows what youíre doing and youíre never going to get any results.
From Chapter: Print
Daily newspapers offer constant market presence and are considered time-sensitive because they are generally read on the day of publication. There is a sense of immediacy about this form of advertising because every new day brings new information - and with it - new advertising. Although many people today get their news from television or radio simply because they don't have the time to invest in reading an entire paper, it is one of the best places to reach the older segment of the population which does have the time and the inclination to comb through each page.
The weekly subscription papers in your area are wonderful for covering specific geographic locations - one at a time or all areas at once. People are likely to read a publication they have paid to have delivered or mailed to their home or office, giving these papers an edge over the free shopper publications. The papers are mailed or delivered by newsboys and newsgirls to key suburban areas - and you can choose to advertise in one or all of the available papers. Your rep will provide you with a list of circulation areas and the number of deliverable addresses within each zip code. Each specific paper will carry neighborhood news and information. You can place the same ad in all papers or alter your ad with different products or offers for different zip communities. The more papers you use at one time, the lower your cost will be per ad.
Newspapers provide readers with more specific information on sales, promotions, and events, then can radio or televisionís vanishing :30 or :60 seconds. Print ads make it easy for consumers to do comparative shopping and to take time reading and re-reading the ads that attract them. This makes newspaper advertising a wonderful partner to radio and television, allowing the rest of the story to be told in greater detail.
Measurement of newspapers is done by circulation. While the circulation figures will tell you how many papers are delivered, the information in somewhat limited in value. The circulation of a paper does not accurately portray the number of actual readers per paper. You are not able to get a handle on how many people read each section or how many people may read one paper delivered to a household or an office. No specific demographics are available. Think of the coverage as potential readership rather than actual readership. And remember that people will usually hang onto a paper long enough to receive the next copy. So dailies are discarded on a daily basis - along with your ad - while weeklies tend to stay around for the whole week.
When using a daily publication, be sure to request the sections of the publication you prefer such as sports, metro, restaurant guide, local news, etc.. If you donít want your ad to show up on the obituary page, be sure and say so or it might very well end up there.
From Chapter: Radio
Radio is one of the easiest, fastest, and most powerful forms of advertising available as long as you know which stations in your market are best suited to your customers or clients. Even a medium-size market can have twenty or more radio stations from which to choose - each with a very specific audience to deliver.
Pay no attention to reports in your local newspapers or anywhere else that ranks your local radio stations using 12+ as a demographic. There is no one station that will appeal to everyone over the age of 12. To find the right station or stations to use for your business, you must be very specific as to age and gender groups. Use only the choices you made from demographic groups A and B in the beginning of this book - and youíll notice there is no 12+ choice - as your guide for your radio purchases.
Radio targets specific populations divided into groups by age and gender. That is precisely why you need to know who your customers are and which stations will deliver your message directly to them. Most stations have a primary and a secondary audience. However, the secondary group can be very small and not worth the price of advertising. While expert media buyers are able to spend not only hours, but days and weeks, dissecting primary and secondary audiences, it is in your best interest to simplify the options and choose stations according to their primary strengths. You will probably find two to four radio stations in your market with the right audience for your business. When several appropriate stations are available to you, one of them will have the lionís share of listeners and be the most expensive. There is nothing wrong with using the #2 or even the #3 station - if one exists - as long as the audience is made up of the demographic group you need. The rule of thumb is now and will always be that the larger the audience, the more expensive the station will be to use. Your Radio Worksheets will show you how to determine which stations will be useful to you.
Stations with different formats have audiences with different listening habits and you will need to incorporate this information into your buying decisions. Beautiful music, soft rock, talk radio, and country music have among the longest listening audiences while most other formats will have a younger listener who flips through stations in search of his/her favorite tune. When you use a station whose audience listens steadily for long periods of time, you can use fewer commercials than you can with a station catering to "channel surfers."
There will also be some "crossover" between stations with similar formats or even stations with different formats that cater to the same demographic groups. In other words, a Baby Boomer might listen to talk radio during the week and switch to a station broadcasting what is often known as "Golden Oldies" in the evenings and on weekends. They are crossing over from one station to another - therefore by advertising on just one of those stations, you are able to reach a portion of the second audience as well.
There are two tried and true ways of using radio successfully. "Tactical" advertising (running a large number of commercials for a short period of time, or "strategic" or "maintenance" advertising (where you run a smaller schedule over a long period of time). While a schedule of 24 commercials per week for two weeks will get people into your store for a sale, a lower frequency schedule of 5-7 commercials per week will keep your business name and location out there as a reminder.
From Chapter: Television
Although there are many television stations to choose from in any given market, television advertising differs from radio in a very basic way. Whereas each radio station has a very distinct audience demographically, one television station can reach every conceivable demographic. Every hour of every day can hold programming for a different audience. Cartoons, sports, news, the soaps, game shows, talk shows, movies, late night and on and on. By selecting these types of programs you can easily target your desired customer. With the combination of sight and sound in your television commercial, you will come as close as possible to giving them a personal demonstration of your product or service.
While each local network affiliate rep, or account executive, will be prepared to sell you time on only one station, your cable rep will have many different stations to choose from. And while each network affiliate can target almost any demographic group depending on what programs you choose, each cable station in itís entirety will target a certain group. While you might find your local networks are sold out in a particular business quarter, cable can almost always find appropriate space for you on one or more of its many stations. Cable adds frequency to network television schedules at a lower cost and lets you target key demographics with its specialized station programming. You may find that cable is more affordable if you are just getting into television. But check with everyone for the best rates.
Frequency in television advertising is just as critical as it is in radio. The greatest commercial is worthless if no one sees it. Audiences are bombarded with 20 - 30 commercials for every 1 hour of programming. If you cannot afford to run a minimum of 10 - 12 spots per week on any one station, you would be well advised to use another form of advertising. This does not mean 10 - 12 commercials every week for 52 weeks. But you should run a minimum of 3 - 4 consecutive weeks when you do advertise.
A specialty business, a golf store for instance, can get around using that many commercials by placing ads into specialty programs, such as televised golf tournaments. He is guaranteed the right audience and does not have to worry about saturating the market with high frequency, He has a captive audience. What could be better?!
You may use flight schedules, which means 2-6 weeks of advertising at a time, several times a year - often used by seasonal advertisers, maintenance schedules, meaning long-term, low-frequency schedules used for frequently purchased products or services with no seasonal aspect to them, or pulsing, which is a schedule of one week on, one week off - or two weeks on and two weeks off. Keeping in mind that two weeks is the average length of time a person remembers an ad, decide which type of schedule will best suit your business.
When you buy the same position (perhaps the 1st slot in the last commercial break of the news) on all three network affiliates, itís called roadblocking. This buy gives you, in effect, everyone watching television at that particular time. Itís especially effective for news and soap opera programming where there are no reruns and large, loyal audiences. You will pay top dollar for a roadblock, but it is very effective. If you like that idea, but donít want to pay so much, buy any position within the same Ĺ hour on all three network affiliates. Because most stations carry soaps and news at the same time, itís basically the same thing.
From Chapter: Direct Mail
When you come home at the end of the work day, one of the first things you do - and everyone does - is go through your mail. While you may or may not keep everything in the pile, you definitely look at each piece of mail to determine what it is. On a daily basis, your bills, letters, bank statements, and magazines will almost always be accompanied by one or more pieces of direct mail in the form of individual coupons, surveys, flyers, or in envelopes, stuffed with offers from many different businesses. Perhaps the irony of receiving all of these pieces of mail together has escaped you. That is - those direct mail pieces that found their way to your mailbox, originated from businesses who purchased your name and address from one or all of the other companies represented in that pile of mail.
First, letís look at the coupons and offers you receive in envelopes every month from national mailers like Val-Pak and Carol Wright. These coupon packs, referred to as cooperative direct mail, are sent to specific zip codes through local and national direct mail companies (check the Yellow Pages under Advertising - direct). These envelopes are stuffed full of colorful coupon offers from 20 or 30 different businesses and go out to certain zip codes on a specific monthly schedule. They offer budget-friendly production packages in one-color to four-color printing on glossy or non-glossy paper. The paper is offered in white or color, and you can have one or both sides of your coupon printed. Your price should include design, layout, proof, typesetting, insertion, labels, envelopes, and postage. Your total cost will depend on the production choices you make and how many areas you wish to cover with the mailing.
While this grouping of coupons may not be your absolute first choice, mailing this way does have one advantage: it allows you to send out greater numbers of coupons and cover more area for less money than you can by doing your own individual mailing. The practical price you pay is that the recipients who actually keep and open the envelopes will have to sort through all of the other material to find your piece. You also must be aware that many zip codes are made up of clusters of high, middle, and low income dwellers. Depending on your offering, large percentages of the mailing may not end up in the hands of your targeted consumer.
To use this form of direct mail, you must get hold of the current schedule of each company to see which month(s) will cover the zip codes you want. Your reps from these companies will be happy to fax, mail, or drop by with their schedules.
If these envelopes in your area have a "full-view window" on the front, you can buy the window placement - in other words, a portion of your coupon would show through the window for the recipients to see before the envelope was opened. If you have your coupon designed so that the section showing through the window is very clever, or teases the person into opening the envelope, youíre going to get a higher rate of return on your investment because more people will at least read your mailing. The company reps will help you design your coupons for the window and show you samples to spark your imagination. It will cost a little more to buy the window position, but it is definitely worth it if you handle it right! Above all, itís the offer itself that becomes so important in this type of direct mail attempt.
From Chapter: Outdoor
Transit advertising adds mobility to outdoor billboards. At one time, advertisers tended to shy away from transit advertising because of the perception of who the bus rider might be. Was the desired audience the person who could not afford a car? Today, concern for the environment and the popularity of programs such as Park-and Ride, have a wide range of business professionals, teachers, college students and many other types of workers, leaving their cars in mall parking
lots and riding the bus to and from their jobs. It saves them the often high cost of parking, the wear-and-tear on the cars, and provides them the opportunity to review material for a morning meeting, study, or just relax and gather their thoughts for the busy day ahead.
Not only can you reach some very upscale customers on the inside of the bus, but you can also reach a large variety of people by advertising on the more traditional, more popular exterior signs on buses. Available in various shapes and sizes, exterior bus signs display advertising messages on both city and suburban buses. Each day they pass by thousands of people in cars, as well as pedestrians. Buses travel through cities and outlying suburban areas, to shopping malls, universities, business districts, amusement centers, supermarkets, theaters, and convention sites. Local customers as well as visitors to your area will be exposed to your large moving messages.
When considering your design, treat the signs as moving outdoor billboards. People wonít have a chance to look at the message for a long period of time, so use bright colors to attract attention, and simple ideas with just a few words for effective transit advertising.
It has become very popular to "wrap" an entire bus with the theme of a company, a product, a museum, even camouflage wrap for an army recruiting campaign. These giant moving advertisements are impossible to miss and are a lot of fun to look at. Wrapping a bus is an expensive proposition, and you will generally be required to sign a contract that will keep you paying "rent" on your bus for a minimum of one year. But if you have the budget, and your company or product lends itself to the size and shape of a bus, you can get a lot of mileage (no pun intended) from this form of advertising. Discounts are available for buying multiple signs and for multiple-month contracts.
From Chapter: Internet
I find it interesting that with all the newness and excitement over advertising on the Internet, that the huge dot com companies have made themselves known by advertising on radio, television, and print Ė the conventional forms of advertising. Itís been a financial blessing for those traditional forms of media, now fat from having the dot com budgets lavished upon them, but itís a double Ė edged sword. Now that the dot com giants are enjoying a certain comfort level in name and e-address awareness, (who hasnít heard of Monster.com?) they will become major competitors of the radio, television, and print entities that made it possible for them to become giants in the first place. And they will work very hard to lure clients away. Most small advertising budgets wonít (canít) increase to add Internet advertising into the mix; rather existing budgets will be strained, reconfigured, or pruned to accommodate the Net.
New dot com companies will also have to advertise their names and E-addresses in traditional forms of advertising, although not with the mega-budgets displayed to this point. The success of banners and click-throughs have no proven track records yet and the Internet is too huge (and growing) to feel real comfortable about money we shoot into cyberspace. In fact, I read that only one out of ten people actually click on a banner when they see one. And do you really want your web site cluttered with banners that lead people away from your site, perhaps never to return?
You can submit your URL (www address) to individual search engines by filling out a basic form usually found near the bottom of search engine home pages. Look for "Add URL" or "Add Site" or "Suggest a Site." You can go directly to these Home Pages to add your site: www.excite.com, www.infohiway.com, www.webcrawler.com, www.hotbot.com, www.infoseek.com, www.northernlights.com, www.dogpile.com, www.mamma.com. www.altavista.com, www.lycos.com Ė these are relatively easy. However, www.Yahoo.com takes a little longer because you have to click into a particular area on the first page (Library, business, etc.) before you can start looking for the ADD URL link, and you may end up with a rejection notice if something about your site isnít to their liking. Companies like www.submitit.com or www.sitescreamer.com or www.hit-booster.com will submit your site to the more than 2000 documented search engines available at this time for a fee. Hit-Booster submitted my site four times over a period of twelve months.
Why would your site need to be submitted more than once? Because it will not always be picked up by all of the search engines on the first or even the second try. Occasionally, you should make some changes to your site because search engines will perceive your site to be abandoned or inactive if it stays the same for long periods of time, and discard it to make room for others. So if youíre submitting your site yourself, repeat the process every three or four months, or whenever you make a change.
When a search engine visits your site, it reads and records all of the words on your web page. If your web page contains a specific word that someone is searching for as a keyword, then your page will show up high on the list of results. If you sign up with one of the URL submitting companies that I mentioned above, they will check your site and make recommendations so your site has the best chance of a high ranking for certain keywords.
Are you the registrant of your own domain?
No, not master of your own domain, but "registrant" of your own domain. If you hire a company or an individual to create your site for you, be sure that you are listed as the registrant and, therefore owner, of your domain name. If you donít, the company or individual you hired will list their name or their business as registrant and will have complete control over your domain name and perhaps hold you up for lots of money to transfer it over to you if you part ways. So have that understanding up front Ė and get it in writing. Getting a Domainís registrant changed is like getting out of a bad marriage. If you can avoid the situation in the first place, youíll save an enormous amount of stress (and money).
If youíve already had a site done by someone else, you can check it out by going to your domain company (like www.NetworkSolutions.com) or (www.internic.com) and click on WHOis after you type in your domain name. You will be taken to an information page that shows you the name of the registrant, the technical contact person, and other information. If the registrant it isnít you, you may be in trouble. Unfortunately, itís a subject not many people know to broach up front, and web page design companies donít usually mention it.
A web design company will probably give you a couple of different payment packages to choose from. One choice will include a hosting fee and either the creation of a new web site or to take over and maintain a current web site (make changes, additions, etc.). This choice means that your domain name will most likely be registered through their business Ė so reread the previous two paragraphs before you choose this one. The second choice will be to simply work on an hour basis or a retainer fee to work on the site itself. This may cost you more because if you donít know what theyíre doing, you wonít know how long it should take them to do it. Itís one of the difficult circumstances computer-challenged people find themselves in!
From Chapter: Kiss It Goodnight and Put it to Bed
There are many ways you can help your reps do their jobs well - none of which take a lot of time or money.
Giving your media reps plenty of notice of upcoming advertising is one of the most important - not only to them - but to you. Last minute advertising is like last minute Christmas shopping. You end up getting things you're not really happy with and you usually pay too much to get them. In the end, nobody wins. You're unhappy because the advertising did not create the response you'd hoped it would and the rep is unhappy because you'll be less likely to call him again.
Every kind of media has a deadline - and theyíre all different. Of all the types of media you can buy, radio is the one you can deal with the fastest as far as producing commercials, or starting a schedule within a day, as long as the station has the inventory available. You can move almost as quickly with television if you already have a commercial produced and it happens to already be at the station you call. Print deadlines can vary from three to four days before publication for small papers to a week before publication with larger papers and sometimes 10 days to 2 weeks for special sections.
You will be happier with your ads and the results they spark if you work ahead of time with each of your reps to give them a chance to think things through, look for upcoming special opportunities that correspond with your time requirements, and put extra effort into tying in copy and coordinating the lay-out and design of your print ads with your other media.
One of the most counter-productive things you can do as an advertiser is to give false feedback to your media salespeople. When your rep(s) ask you how the advertising worked, give totally accurate answers. If it worked, say so - and also say so if it didn't work at all. If you tell a rep that your advertising did not work when it did, he or she will change what was done for the next schedule. Clients sometimes think if they indicate that the advertising did not work well, the rep will work harder the next time. In reality, it makes the rep change a schedule that worked well to something that may not work at all the next time.
During one of my years as a radio sales rep I was told that a client, who was running a "pick your own strawberries" ad, had called the station to cancel the remainder of his schedule because there were so many people in the field they were trampling the strawberries. When a new rep from the station was assigned to that client a few weeks later, the first question he asked was "How did the last schedule work for you?" The client shrugged his shoulders and said, "OK."
The client now had a radio rep who was going
to work very hard to change the schedule that worked so well it had to be
canceled (one of the catch-22 situations radio sales reps face). Not only is
this unfair to the radio rep who will waste precious time and energy trying to
figure out what went wrong, but when the new, altered schedule doesnít work,
the rep will feel that he or she has let the client down and question his/her
own ability. Itís a bad scene all the way around. So please give credit when
credit is due and, of course, be honest as well when the schedule doesnít
And Hereís a Big One!
Pay those invoices on time. There is a grapevine large enough to choke a horse in the world of advertising. Everyone knows who pays on time and who doesn't. Monthly collection meetings are held within every media sales department to discuss clients who are behind in their payments. And all reps have friends within the business. They know who pays within 30 days and who is way out there. You wonít be able to negotiate your next advertising schedule from a position of strength, and you don't want to go back to the days of being asked to pay cash-in-advance - especially after youíve worked hard to reach the point where you can call in a schedule and have it happily taken over the phone.
You will generally be given some slack on the portion of your bill being paid by co-op. Co-op is the part of your advertising being paid by a supplier of brand name products you carry or by your franchise company. It's been around long enough that people know it takes a while for it to come in. You will need to fork over your percent within 30 days, but generally you will not be asked to pay the co-op portion before it is received by you.
There's tons of information in the book!
Order it today from Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, or call 1-800-228-2275 and stop wasting your precious advertising dollars! It's a $20 investment that can save you thousands. Why wouldn't you?
And please take advantage of my offer to answer an advertising question for you absolutely free! Just send your question to me via email and I will respond, normally within 48 hours. Also, take advantage of the free expert help available to you at the entrepreneur.com "Ask the Experts" site.