The Top Five Secrets To Advertising Strategies – Starting With Your First Ad

Today, most advertising strategies focus on achieving three general goals, as the Small Business Administration indicated in Advertising Your Business:

1) promote awareness of a business and its product or services;

2) stimulate sales directly and “attract competitors’ customers”; and

3) establish or modify a business’ image. In other words, advertising seeks to inform, persuade, and remind the consumer. With these aims in mind, most businesses follow a general process which ties advertising into the other promotional efforts and overall marketing objectives of the business.

An advertising strategy is a campaign developed to communicate ideas about products and services to potential consumers in the hopes of convincing them to buy those products and services. This strategy, when built in a rational and intelligent manner, will reflect other business considerations (overall budget, brand recognition efforts) and objectives (public image enhancement, market share growth) as well. Even though a small business has limited capital and is unable to devote as much money to advertising as a large corporation, it can still develop a highly effective advertising campaign. The key is creative and flexible planning, based on an in-depth knowledge of the target consumer and the avenues that can be utilized to reach that consumer.

STAGES OF ADVERTISING STRATEGY

As a business begins, one of the major goals of advertising must be to generate awareness of the business and its products. Once the business’ reputation is established and its products are positioned within the market, the amount of resources used for advertising will decrease as the consumer develops a kind of loyalty to the product. Ideally, this established and ever-growing consumer base will eventually aid the company in its efforts to carry their advertising message out into the market, both through its purchasing actions and its testimonials on behalf of the product or service.

Essential to this rather abstract process is the development of a “positioning statement, a positioning statement explains how a company’s product (or service) is differentiated from those of key competitors. With this statement, the business owner turns intellectual objectives into concrete plans. In addition, this statement acts as the foundation for the development of a selling proposal, which is composed of the elements that will make up the advertising message’s “copy platform.” This platform delineates the images, copy, and art work that the business owner believes will sell the product.

With these concrete objectives, the following elements of the advertising strategy need to be considered: target audience, product concept, communication media, and advertising message. These elements are at the core of an advertising strategy, and are often referred to as the “creative mix.” Again, what most advertisers stress from the beginning is clear planning and flexibility. And key to these aims is creativity, and the ability to adapt to new market trends. A rigid advertising strategy often leads to a loss of market share. Therefore, the core elements of the advertising strategy need to mix in a way that allows the message to envelope the target consumer, providing ample opportunity for this consumer to become acquainted with the advertising message.

1. TARGET CONSUMER The target consumer is a complex combination of persons. It includes the person who ultimately buys the product, as well as those who decide what product will be bought (but don’t physically buy it), and those who influence product purchases, such as children, spouse, and friends. In order to identify the target consumer, and the forces acting upon any purchasing decision, it is important to define three general criteria in relation to that consumer, as discussed by the Small Business Administration:

1. Demographics-Age, gender, job, income, ethnicity, and hobbies.

2. Behaviors-When considering the consumers’ behavior an advertiser needs to examine the consumers’ awareness of the business and its competition, the type of vendors and services the consumer currently uses, and the types of appeals that are likely to convince the consumer to give the advertiser’s product or service a chance.

3. Needs and Desires-here an advertiser must determine the consumer needs-both in practical terms and in terms of self-image, etc.-and the kind of pitch/message that will convince the consumer that the advertiser’s services or products can fulfill those needs.

2. PRODUCT CONCEPT The product concept grows out of the guidelines established in the “positioning statement.” How the product is positioned within the market will dictate the kind of values the product represents, and thus how the target consumer will receive that product. Therefore, it is important to remember that no product is just itself, but, a “bundle of values” that the consumer needs to be able to identify with. Whether couched in presentations that emphasize sex, humor, romance, science, masculinity, or femininity, the consumer must be able to believe in the product’s representation.

3. COMMUNICATION MEDIA The communication media is the means by which the advertising message is transmitted to the consumer. In addition to marketing objectives and budgetary restraints, the characteristics of the target consumer need to be considered as an advertiser decides what media to use. The types of media categories from which advertisers can choose include the following:

o Print-primarily newspapers (both weekly and daily) and magazines.

o Audio-FM and AM radio.

o Video-Promotional videos, infomercials.

o World Wide Web.

o Direct mail.

o Outdoor advertising-Billboards, advertisements on public transportation (cabs, buses).

After deciding on the medium that is 1) financially in reach, and 2) most likely to reach the target audience, an advertiser needs to schedule the broadcasting of that advertising. The media schedule, as defined by Hills, is “the combination of specific times (for example, by day, week, and month) when advertisements are inserted into media vehicles and delivered to target audiences.”

4. ADVERTISING MESSAGE An advertising message is guided by the “advertising or copy platform,” which is a combination of the marketing objectives, copy, art, and production values. This combination is best realized after the target consumer has been analyzed, the product concept has been established, and the media and vehicles have been chosen. At this point, the advertising message can be directed at a very concrete audience to achieve very specific goals. There are three major areas that an advertiser should consider when endeavoring to develop an effective “advertising platform”:

o What are the product’s unique features?

o How do consumers evaluate the product? What is likely to persuade them to purchase the product?

o How do competitors rank in the eyes of the consumer? Are there any weaknesses in their positions? What are their strengths?

Most business consultants recommend employing an advertising agency to create the art work and write the copy. However, many small businesses don’t have the up-front capital to hire such an agency, and therefore need to create their own advertising pieces. When doing this a business owner needs to follow a few important guidelines.

5. COPY When composing advertising copy it is crucial to remember that the primary aim is to communicate information about the business and its products and services. The “selling proposal” can act as a blueprint here, ensuring that the advertising fits the overall marketing objectives. Many companies utilize a theme or a slogan as the centerpiece of such efforts, emphasizing major attributes of the business’s products or services in the process. While something must be used to animate the theme …care must be taken not to lose the underlying message in the pursuit of memorable advertising.”

When writing the copy, direct language (saying exactly what you mean in a positive, rather than negative manner) has been shown to be the most effective. The theory here is that the less the audience has to interpret, or unravel the message, the easier the message will be to read, understand, and act upon. As Jerry Fisher observed in Entrepreneur, “Two-syllable phrases like ‘free book,’ ‘fast help,’ and ‘lose weight’ are the kind of advertising messages that don’t need to be read to be effective. By that I mean they are so easy for the brain to interpret as a whole thought that they’re ‘read’ in an eye blink rather than as linear verbiage. So for an advertiser trying to get attention in a world awash in advertising images, it makes sense to try this message-in-an-eye-blink route to the public consciousness-be it for a sales slogan or even a product name.”

The copy content needs to be clearly written, following conventional grammatical guidelines. Of course, effective headings allow the reader to get a sense of the advertisement’s central theme without having to read much of the copy. An advertisement that has “50% off” in bold black letters is not just easy to read, but it is also easy to understand.

Introduction to Online Advertising

Our next lesson covers the main items for online advertising. Advertising is probably the most important promotion tool for big brick-and-mortar companies. However, with a SEM businesses, advertising is only a supporting factor. The problem is that the majority of SEM businesses lack the scale to be able to effectively contact large numbers of prospects and clients. Furthermore, there aren’t many places on the Web where prospective clients come in flocks. Therefore, advertising is largely PPC-oriented.

Actually, online advertising is advertising on the Internet. This particular form of advertising is a source of revenue for an increasing number of websites and companies.

A significant number of firms, from small businesses to multinational corporations, incorporate online advertising into their marketing strategy. Online advertisements typically involve at least two separate firms: the advertiser or agency which purchases or sponsors the advertisement and the publisher or network which distributes the ad for display. Because of the close relationship between technical innovation and online advertising, many firms specialize in both. For example, most search engines couple their search service with an advertising program, exploiting the benefits of keyword-based search technology by including ads in search results.

Let’s look closer on the most popular online advertising form as traditional banner. PPC advertising form will be explained in details in 8 lessons of our next Step.

Traditional Banner

A Web banner or banner ad is a widely used form of advertising on the Internet. This kind of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a Web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking them to the advertiser’s website.

Generally the advertisement is constructed from an image (GIF, JPEG, PNG), JavaScript program or multimedia object employing technologies such as Java, Shockwave or Flash, and often employing animation or sound to maximize presence. Images are usually in a high-aspect ratio shape. Banners are usually placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

The Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression“. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”. Many banner ads work on a click-through payback system.

At the base of a click-through system are mathematical calculations of the number of users (users clicking on an ad) divided by impression number. We remember that the term impression means the number of times the ad was delivered. For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

It should be noted that banner ad click-through rates have fallen over time, often measuring significantly less than 1% and choice of an appropriate advertising site with high affinity is very important crucial factor in this situation. Personalized ads, unusual formats, and more obtrusive ads typically have higher click-through rates than standard banner ads.

When the advertiser scans their log files and detects that a Web user has visited the advertiser’s site from the content site by clicking on the banner ad, the advertiser sends the content provider a small amount of money (usually around five to ten US cents). This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the Internet access to supply the content in the first place.

Nine Common Banner Ad Mistakes to Avoid

Banner advertising expert Rob Frankel advises e-marketers to avoid the following mistakes when creating their banner ads:

  1. Overloaded. Too many colors. Too slow to load. Too hard to read. Nobody wants to grow old waiting for your banner ad to load. Frankel advises designing banner ads that will load and view easily with last year’s technology. “Personally, I design pages for people running no more than Netscape 2.0 on the equivalent of a 486 running at 66 MHz and 256 colors,” says Frankel. “That means your art should still be no deeper than eight bits, unless you’re a true minimalist and can bring it in at no more than four.”
  2. Unattractive. People like good-looking stuff. What works for Cindy Crawford can work for you, too. So if you’re not a digital Da Vinci, find someone who is and pay him or her a few bucks to make your banner look great.
  3. Too many bells and whistles. Just because technology offers you bells and whistles doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. Chances are that the average Web surfer has been through several sites before he or she gets to your banner. Give the reader a break. Don’t overdo motion, movement, or message changes. And allow some time to digest what you’re displaying.
  4. Illiteracy and illegibility. These are the ads that make you scrunch up your face and twist your head trying to make some sense out of the illegible scrawls that some knucklehead thinks are cool. But prospects don’t care how cool you think it looks. If they can’t read it, you’ve lost any chance of their clicking on it.
  5. Missing link. Your banner looks great but isn’t linked to anything. That’s a mistake that anyone should be able to detect and prevent with a simple check.
  6. Link errors. Your banner looks great. The link works… directly to a 404 message (meaning the requested Web page was not found). Maybe this one isn’t your fault. Maybe your webmaster inadvertently forgot to tell you he or she switched servers. But even if it was the webmaster’s fault, who do you think will catch the blame? Keep checking those banner links every few days.
  7. Weak message. The same things that make good ads make good banners. Unfortunately, the same things that make bad ads make horrible banners. If you don’t know how to write and design a clever, compelling message, hire someone who does. Nothing turns off potenĀ­tial prospects more than a really stupid attempt at being clever, an offense usually committed with the aid of a bad pun. Remember that your ad is a representative of you, containing a smattering of your personality and ability. If it looks dopey to a viewer, guess what they’re going to think about you? It’s better to be clear than clever.
  8. Confusing message. Your banner looks pretty, but nobody understands what the heck you’re talking about. This is the number-one mistake made by do-it-yourselfers.
  9. Boring banners. One common mistake is that your banner doesn’t compel your recipients to respond within a certain time frame. Without a deadline, there is no immediacy to act, which means they scroll away until they forget it.

Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, although Web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer’s interests.

The evidence shows that Web banner ads are restricted by high cost and limited physical banner area. Let’s look at the Marketplace section of SearchEngineWatch.com:

Out of 10 advertisers only 3 are in the SEM services business. These companies – BruceClay, KeywordRanking and MoreVisibility – are the largest players in the industry; they have enough wherewithal to run these ads and enough resources to satisfy a large flow of traffic.

Pay per click advertising

Pay per click or PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers, in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers). Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, who in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.

Though many companies offer pay per click system as one of their services. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and MSN AdCenter are top players in this field.

As far as PPC advertising is the first advertising option for any new on-line businesses it became one of the dominant and widely used marketing tools.

What you should remember:

  1. A Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression”. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”.
  2. Banners should be placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

Pixel Advertising: Fad or Trend?

Pixel  advertising  is an innovative marketing concept introduced by 22-year-old Alex Tew that allows advertisers to buy  advertising  space on a per-pixel cost basis. The more pixels an advertiser buys, the larger their ad and the greater the chance that it will be clicked on. Selling one million pixels at $1 each, Alex’s Million Dollar Homepage has created quite a buzz in the news media and has easily reached its $1 million target.

Thanks to the stunning success of Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (MDHP), pixel ad sites have mushroomed all over the net. There are even commercial scripts that you can buy that will allow you to set up your own million-dollar homepage in less than 15 minutes. However, this does not mean you’ll make a million dollars…or even a thousand dollars…or even the cost of the script.

Alex Tew’s pixel  advertising  concept was simple, so simple that it eventually led many people to pound their heads on the wall repeating to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of this first?” But his idea was also novel and original. And because of its novelty it commanded a lot of attention (and free publicity) from the media.

Needless to say, no news organization will rush to report about a second million-dollar homepage, let alone one set up in 15 minutes with a purchased script. This is not to say, however, that there is no room in cyberspace for the second or third or even thousandth MDHP. In fact, there are presently at least a thousand MDHP clones hoping to capitalize on the pixel  advertising  craze. Many of them have managed to make a lot of money despite not being the original.

Some people view MDHP clones as little more than shameless imitations trying to leech off Tew’s original concept. This would be the case if his idea, while fun and original, has little use beyond his website.

On the contrary, the clones have proved quite the opposite. Their successes have demonstrated that Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage was worth much more than $1 million. Moreover, they have lend legitimacy to the concept of pixel .

While the original MDHP has made “internet history” (in Tew’s words) by achieving its $1 million goal, it is unlikely to become anything more than just a blip in internet history if the concept is not adopted and refined by others. In fact, most MDHP clones have achieved their riches not by ripping off Tew’s site verbatim, but by borrowing his pixel  advertising  concept and finding creative uses for it.

Far from being just a fad, pixel  advertising  holds an enormous promise as an alternative, cost-effective channel for online  advertising . But the concept is still in its infancy, and to avoid becoming internet history, it has to evolve. An important aspect of this evolution is how limitations inherent in the concept itself and in how pixel  advertising  is being used are addressed.

Perhaps the most obvious argument against pixel  advertising  is that its current use is largely limited to websites with seemingly useless clutters of ads with no content whatsoever. At best these sites offer advertisers little more than a source of non-targeted traffic.

An obvious solution to this is to incorporate pixel  advertising  into content-rich sites. Instead of selling pixel  advertising  exclusively through a site with nothing but a giant grid of picture ads, banner-sized pixel grids may be incorporated into a site with real content. A good example of this application is the relatively small and unobtrusive pixel panel placed on http://www.ezclassifieds.org/. Since most people go to ezClassifieds.org to post and look at ads, the site is an ideal place to offer pixel  advertising  to visitors. Obviously, incorporating pixel ads into content sites involves a lot more work than installing a ready-made script on a new domain. It involves developing a content-rich site and *then* offering pixel ads as an alternative to text links and traditional banner ads.

Used in this way, pixel ads are at the very least superior to traditional banner ads. Unlike traditional banners, a pixel banner may contain ads for several advertisers. Plus, pixel ads are not confined to predetermined shapes and sizes. Many pixel ad scripts will automatically resize images submitted by advertisers, eliminating the need to edit them to conform to the publisher’s requirements. Purchasing pixel ads is usually painless and often fully automated. Since most people have grown accustomed to ignore banner ads, pixel ads are likely to generate higher click-through rates.

Copyright 2006 Oudam Em

What is Product Advertising?

Product  advertising  is a simple idea on paper; but like most things which appear simple at first blush, it can be an incredibly complex one in practice. The idea behind product  advertising  needs no explanation – it is simply presenting a product in the hopes of generating consumer interest. Where things become thornier is when it comes to deciding what benefit the product has to offer and to whom. Identifying a target market and finding the best way to reach these consumers can be challenging in itself. Not every media is ideal for getting your marketing message across to every audience.

The answer to how best to reach the target market often begins with a careful consideration of the product itself; who will use this product’ What are these people most likely to consider the biggest advantages of this product? From this, one can often decide on a strategy in terms of which media will provide their product advertisement which will make an impact on the largest number of consumers within this market, as well as helping to begin coming up with ideas on how to present the product as something which will improve the lives of these consumers.

Along with media placements which will be more likely to directly speak to the target market in question, most successful product  advertising  campaigns will also include  advertising  placements in media which reaches a general audience. After all, no matter how specialized of a niche market you are dealing with, these consumers also watch television; listen to the radio and so on.

Product  advertising  is something which can be so complex that most companies find it useful to engage the services of a marketing or  advertising  agency to handle the work of reaching the consumer. The company can then devote their resources elsewhere, while reaping the benefit of having  advertising  professionals on their side; professionals who know how to speak to consumers and get the company’s message across and have extensive experience in using various forms of media to make a favorable impression on consumers. This is a more cost effective model of product  advertising  for the product manufacturer and permits them to focus on their product and on serving the needs of their customer base.

Mobile Advertising – Integral Part of Any Marketing Campaign

Mobile advertising is advertising through mobile phones or other devices like iPad. An integral part of any advertising campaign, mobile advertising is fast gaining popularity due to its quick, wider reach and its potential to track the effectiveness of a campaign. As the number of mobile users across the world continues to surge (studies show that the trend is likely to continue for several years), mobile media is evolving rapidly. Apart from simple mobile phones, smart phones based on Wi Fi or Wimax have also emerged as a popular means of promoting products and sending out social messages.

Forms of Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is done in several forms but the most common one is banner ads of varied sizes. Mobile web banner or web poster ads appear on the top of a page or bottom of a mobile screen. Another very popular form of mobile ads is the SMS advertising which contributes significantly to the global mobile marketing revenues. Other forms of cell phone advertising include MMS advertising, advertising within mobile games, videos or in-application ads which appear when an application is being loaded or before it is loaded. Another advantage of this mode of advertising is that its effectiveness can be measured in a variety of ways, such as on the basis of number of view and clicks. A recent introduction is interactive ads, which allows mobile users to interact with the advertiser.

Importance of Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is likely to emerge as the necessary driver for the development and commercialization of the mobile internet. It is an important tool for monetizing mobile content and applications. However, an effective cell phone advertising campaign can only be developed if the mobile phone operators, handset vendors, content providers, application developers and advertisers collaborate effectively. So, it must be taken up while taking into consideration the variety of handsets available in the market, their different screen sizes and support technologies.

The high potential of cell phone ad has seen a proliferation of advertising networks that provide the necessary infrastructure for developing mobile ads of various types that suit the specifications and requirements of advertisers. These companies provide their clients with a Software Development Kit or SDK to include mobile ads in the applications for a mobile phone.

Radio Advertising Commandments – Part 1

In my last article “Local  Advertising  – The Biggest Mistakes” we took a look at the major media available for local advertisers to market their products. To follow up, I’d like to discuss the many uses of Radio. Sort of the 10 Commandments Of Radio  Advertising . This will take up several pages, for sure, so I’ll start by asking the most obvious radio questions.

Q: How do I know if radio will work for me & why should I use radio?

A: I usually have gotten these questions when a client is afraid & can’t stomach the idea of paying for an Advertisement that they can’t physically hold on to. In other words, they think that if they can’t SEE their Ad, then no one else can. They seem to have a hard time believing that a disembodied radio voice can move people to buy their product.

Yes, it’s probably true that most advertisers get their feet wet with print  advertising . Your typical print advertiser will place an Ad in a local weekly or daily newspaper and bingo, the next day – traffic. The results can be quite immediate.

Radio is a different animal and although it can work as effectively as print, it can be equally disappointing to a seasoned print advertiser.

Local radio  advertising  can turn off a new advertiser who expects immediate results, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 10 reasons why “immediate results” are hard to come by:

1) the spots were not aggressive enough

2) the offer was not strong enough

3) there was not enough weight (number of spots) booked

4) the wrong local radio station was used to reach the desired market

5) not enough radio stations were booked

6) only radio was used

7) spots were poorly placed throughout the day

8) the production was poorly executed or the wrong announcer used

9) timing of the campaign was off

10) the new client had no name recognition

This brings me to Commandment #1

Don’t Underestimate The Power of Radio.

The voice is a wonderful thing.

Used properly, it can move you to tears, unleash a fury of anger, sooth both physical and mental pain, irritate you like chalk on a blackboard, hypnotize you into the most embarrassing behaviour, fire you up & motivate you to accomplish the most daunting tasks, fire up a nation to battle, seduce the most cold-hearted soul and yes, it can certainly convince you to happily part with your money.

In fact, the people who make radio production their livelyhood, are paid quite handsomely to get you to do things that are not on your priority list.

Ever listen to a movie trailer? Listen to the announcer. His job is to get you to see that movie. Whether you realize it or not, the impact of that voice lasts longer than you may be aware of.

You may remember the visuals, but it is the EMOTIONAL AUDIO IMPRINT that leaves you with a “I’ve got to see this when it comes out!” memory.

It is the same subliminal effect that radio can create.

The problem faced, is that most radio production quality can often be sub-standard.

Let’s face it – the radio station copywriters are under the gun to write & produce dozens of spots a day & there just isn’t enough time to write super creative & dynamic commercials. Even if the copywriter can squeeze out something really hot, there is often a lack of voice-over talent to make it happen. Let’s not talk about the studio engineer’s backlog!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have an effective radio spot come out of a radio station. It just means that to make it more effective, you may have to go to a third party production house to get your spots professionaly produced.

This brings me to Radio Commandment #2

Get The Best Creative Production Possible

Why do you want the best creative possible? Well, there are several reasons.

1) it makes your  advertising  more effective

2) the cost of your campaign can actually be lower if more people respond to a better commercial, as fewer spots are necessary to make the same impact

3) better creative is more memorable.

4) strong creativity entertains and sells at the same time

5) powerful creative radio spots get people talking about the spot & consequently the product

“OK,” you’re saying, “but this sounds like it’s going to cost a fortune!”

Nothing could be further from the truth. What will cost you a fortune, is a radio  advertising  campaign that falls flat because the production was not up to scratch!

Remember,  advertising  is an investment if you eventually get back more than you paid. It’s a fortune if you don’t get back anything!

In order to make sure that there’s a payback, I highly recommend you look at all the variables and creative production is high on the list!

This brings me to Radio Commandment #3

Develop A Strategy & Stick With It

There are many ways to use radio. Short campaigns, long campaigns, image building, promotions, product launches etc.

The first thing to be aware of is that new advertisers have to develop name recognition with a station’s audience. This isn’t as important for long time advertisers who have used other media, but it is crucial for first-timers.

Well known advertisers are seen as reliable and trustworthy. The longer you advertise, the more favour you win with listeners. It is like money in the bank.

I advise all new advertisers to start with an introduction campaign to highlight who they are, what their product is and the benefits of shopping at their store.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules and have a grand opening with a fantastic door crasher special. Certainly that will work. But ideally, the best results for that type of scenario come when a “teaser campaign” precedes the grand opening.

Let me state that much of the advice offered here is what I believe to be the “safe route” to effective radio  advertising . Even under less optimal conditions, radio can be quite effective!

What you want to do, however, is not succeed by throwing tons of money into your  advertising , but rather cover all the essentials so that you have an effective and cost efficient campaign.

Good planning can go a long way.

In my next article I’ll continue with commandment #4

Use The Right Music Bed

Best of Advertising Blimps

Nowadays, inflatable advertising is a very common business to practice. It has been proved quite effective in grabbing public attention. So, in experts’ opinion, in coming days, it is going to be the first choice for all sorts of promotional activities. Just like any other normal business activities, this one also requires special attention and care. The perfect way to start advertising blimps business would be to consult with other business persons who have already established themselves in is domain. Their information, ideas and supplies; in some instances, affiliate plans also may work out to begin with, and these often work very well.

A few steps can be recommended as the guideline. For instance, let’s have a look upon:

o At first, one should get a license, arrange a business location and find a business name as well. The key idea is to make sure that there would not be any legal hassle.

o Minutely, analyze your rivals. It is quite significant to know how they work and what goes into making a bounce house, balloon inflatables and inflatable toy business successful.

o It would be also quite crucial to know what they charge for buying and renting their inflatables, what areas they deliver too, whether they only rent inflatables or offer other items like chairs, tables, etc.

o Though, it depends upon budget and affordability of every individual but the priority should be to set up complete business operation like website, logo, business cards, etc. this sort of thing enhance credibility and uniqueness of the company in public opinion. In other words, we can say that this is imperative for branding and marketing purpose.

The best part of this business is ‘investment’. It requires very nominal investment compared with many other businesses. But the point also should be noticed here that in order to start an inflatable advertising company, you have to have merchandise. This means buying or renting advertising blimps to determine how much money you can invest to begin with. So, set out a budget and look for good deals. Besides that you should always keep in mind that if you buy a crappy product, it is not going to last long; inflatable jump toys are no different.

Experts insist upon varieties. They believe that varieties in these sorts of advertising strategy are quite crucial. They never let the impact dull or die. Moreover, we must mention here that varieties are USP (unique selling point) of such advertising strategies. As a prudent advertiser, we can sit and discuss design and varieties of advertising blimps with the advertising vendor. We should make sure that our brand logo and name have been smartly highlighted on all the inflatable advertising materials.

Strategic Advertising for Real Estate Agents

“99% of  advertising  doesn’t sell a thing.”

Sounds like something a local real estate agent might say after paying for yet another ad that didn’t produce, right?

You might be surprised to learn that the quote actually belongs to David Ogilvy, legendary founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful  advertising  agencies.

Yikes – if a man regarded as a giant in the ad industry is so negative about  advertising’s  success rate, how should you feel?

The Bad News is the Good News…

There is an upside here. If so much of the  advertising  in your local market is ineffective, you can gain a significant edge on your competition by having a better local  advertising  strategy than other agents.

 Advertising  vs.  Advertising  Strategy

Notice that I said a better  advertising  STRATEGY, not simply better  advertising . There’s a big difference.

A better ad might get you a few more leads in the short term. A better  advertising  strategy can help you to have a consistent, meaningful message in your  advertising , and will position you to get more business from your local market on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you define your  advertising  strategy, and put it into action:

1) Have a Strategic Objective In Mind BEFORE you Advertise

 Advertising  for the sake of “building awareness” is probably the fastest way to flush your  advertising  dollars away.

Before you even think about buying an ad, you must have a strategic objective in mind – after all, why should you pay for any type of ad unless it helps you to reach your objective.

Here are just a few questions that you might ask yourself before placing an ad to help define what you want your  advertising  strategy to do for you:

– If I could be known for just one thing in my local market, what would it be?

– Which part of the local real estate market is not currently well serviced by other agents? Is there potential in this neighborhood/age group/demographic profile?

– Which part of the local market is emerging and might be a driving force for sales in future years?

– What’s changing in my market right now – immigration, aging population, young families moving in, etc – and how do I capitalize on the change more effectively than my competitors?

If you can answer even some of these questions, you will probably be on your way to identifying the basis for an  advertising  strategy.

For example, you may determine that based on trends and current prices, your market will become increasingly popular with first time homebuyers. As a result, your strategic objective may be to use your  advertising  to become recognized as the local expert in serving first time homebuyers.

2) Have a Specific Objective for Each Ad you Place within your Strategy

With a clear objective as part of your  advertising  strategy, you can now think about investing in ads that support your objective.

Here’s a tip – you can create  advertising  that generates an immediate response while also serving to build your brand in a particular market.

Continuing with the above example, if you ran a series of ads in the local newspaper offering a free “First-Time Homebuyers Report” available from your website, you would actually be running a direct response ad (aimed at getting people to download the report) that also delivered a brand building message (the message being that you are the agent for first time homebuyers to call because you are the expert in that field).

You can measure the success of the ad by looking at the number of downloads from your site while the ad was running – since generating downloads was the specific objective of the ad. If the ads don’t generate enough downloads to justify the cost, pull them or change them. Ads are only valuable if they get you closer to achieving your strategic objective.

3) Be Consistent

All of your  advertising  (online, print, directory, flyers, etc) should be similar in both style and substance within your  advertising  strategy.

Yes, a consistent look and style for your ads is important to help you get recognized in a competitive market.

But even more important is being consistent when it comes to the messages in your ads. You can’t buy a Yellow Pages ad that promotes you as the leader in client service, and then advertise your “low low price” in the local newspaper, and then distribute flyers that try to promote you as the family real estate expert.

Your messages can’t conflict! Again, here’s where an  advertising  strategy comes in. With a strategic objective in mind for your  advertising , you will be able to focus your  advertising  dollars on communicating a single, clear message to potential clients about why they should call you.

An  Advertising  Strategy is Critical to your Success

If Mr. Ogilvy was right, then most of the advertisers out there in your real estate market are getting it wrong. This creates a huge opportunity for you to use an  advertising  strategy to drive business and outdo your competitors.

– Have a Strategic Objective for all of your  Advertising  – Know what you want to say about your business, and who you want to say it to within your local market.

– Have an Objective for Each Ad – Measure each ad’s results against the strategic objective you are trying to achieve – if you don’t, how will you know if the ads were successful or not?

– Be Consistent – Make sure all of your ads are focused on helping you reach your strategic objective by communicating a clear message to the market.

 Advertising  can be a tough game, but so can real estate. And in both cases, those with a well thought out strategy will almost always succeed over those that don’t have a plan.

Advertising Effectiveness Trends, a Small Survey

In the day to day running of my business, I am discussing marketing strategies with business owners and marketing managers on a daily basis. If you can earn their trust, then they will be very candid with you, especially if you can help them without trying to sell them something.

What resulted from this were some startling admissions that I did not expect. This had me thinking, it can cost an awful lot, especially for the small to medium business owner, to spend money on good market research. So I wondered what the results would look like after a few months if I were to record the marketing success and failure stories after each visit.

I broke this down into respective industries to give more meaning to the results, and also, if available, lend the reasons to these successes and failures. Now I have decided that three month periods will do for data collection as years of research in marketing becomes outdated by the time it is published in the forever increasing and changing monster that is the modern market place. Always ensure research is current and relevant.

Although some of you may want to see raw data, a summary of my finding is all I am going to share in this article sorry! Please take into account that the sample number is in the hundreds, but certainly not in the thousands. The value of this research comes from the honesty of small to medium sized business owners, and the fact they have usually spent the time to talk about these things in detail.

Here are some general trends that I have found;

o Newspaper and radio advertising return on investment continues to decline rapidly.

o The second most effective form of advertising was word of mouth referrals.

o The most effective form tended to be anything unique, e.g. logo and advertisement placement in unexpected places.

o Advertising on product giveaways tends to have a life span of one week, i.e. a company logo on a free pen typically brings in no new revenue one week after it has been given away.

o Advertising discounts were not as effective at getting people through the door as advertising something new.

o Customer loyalty increased with free giveaways, but not so much with advertised discounts.

o Most business owners were dissatisfied with the follow up frequency of advertising sales reps, i.e. after an initial advertising campaign, contact is not made until after an unacceptable length of time.

To bring relevance to these results, one must take into account that this is a small city (about 122,000) and has a large rural support base in outlying areas. These trends show that a need to provide innovative and well maintained advertising service is apparent in this city. Perhaps this is the same elsewhere.

There were some other interesting facts, but these seven findings had the most valid results statistically. If in the future, some other trends become overwhelmingly evident, then I will revise this article.

Online Advertising

 Advertising  has moved much beyond the levels of print and point of contact  advertising . Today one of the world’s most effective  advertising  techniques is online  advertising . With the unparalleled rise in the World Wide Web, not only has it become one of the most targeted sections of  advertising , but at the same time it is also the most cost effective  advertising  process in the world.

Categories of online  advertising  could include such systems as banner ads, email marketing,  advertising  networks, online classified  advertising  and many other techniques. The procedures are simple, they are quick and the results are easily visible.

The greatest benefit of online  advertising  is that it knows no time and space boundaries. It is visible to anyone at anytime and geographical boundaries are no longer applicable. Another great advantage is that they can be targeted to specific groups or a relevant audience. Certain keywords will bring up the advertisements on the requisite pages, thus ensuring that you catch the eyeballs of people who are looking for similar content.

Google, due to its commanding position in the search engine world, is used as the benchmark for all  advertising  techniques and marketing strategies. If a company manages to do well with its Google  advertising , then it is guaranteed that the same techniques will achieve good results on other search engines also.

Google’s AdWords is one of the most basic systems of  advertising  on their search network. The AdWords reach only interested customers, since the ads pop-up only on relevant search pages. You can also reduce  advertising  costs tremendously since these are not very high priced ads. You can also alter them as and when needed, and judging from the evaluation charts you can make informed marketing decisions.

Online  advertising , especially banner  advertising  or ads on various sites should not be judged on the basis of the number of click throughs. An advertisement’s efficacy cannot be calculated according to the instantaneous results it generates. There is a great deal of recall value attached to ads, and similar to print media or TV advertisements, the results normally become evident only later. However what is essential is the placing of the advertisement, since the significance of the page it appears on is what determines the focus of the ad.

Over 13.6 billion searches take place in one month in the US alone. Out of these 9 billion of those searches are on Google. Hence the importance of Google as the main  advertising  destination cannot be underplayed. Every SEM company worth its salt will target Google searches for optimization, and online  advertising  companies will target their ads towards the 9 billion searches every month. Thus Google promotion packages are an inherent segment of every  advertising  strategy. These include not only  advertising  on Google search engines, using the specialized techniques developed by Google, but also  advertising  on other classified advertisement networks and directory listing sites which are ranked high on the search engine lists.

Online  Advertising  includes search engine marketing with Google AdWords, Yahoo SM and Microsoft Adcenter; it also includes buying banners from CPM ad networks as well as social media marketing.