Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘advertising

Hit ’em where they are.

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boxingBesides being a marketer, I’m also a consumer. I have some value to advertisers. I have to buy things occasionally just like everyone else. And, just like everyone else, I’m susceptible to advertising messaging.

By try reaching me. I’m not easy to get a hold of.

I’m media and tech savvy. That means I’m not necessarily easy to reach via normal media channels. Typically I watch broadcasting content via TiVo or other digital delivery like iTunes or Hulu. My commute to the office in the morning is typically spent with a podcast (if I’m not conducting business by cell phone – hands free of course). Like many my age and younger, I don’t consume news via newspapers. My magazine consumption is limited to trade magazines, but I do allow myself the guilty pleasure of a Macworld subscription.

Let’s say that you have some goods or services that you want to market to me. How do you reach me or others like me? And I’m approaching 40. If you think I’m difficult, just try the current 18-34 demographic. They don’t trust standard media messaging techniques. Their interactions with any media is typically divided as this new generation is shaping up to be one of the best multi-tasking generations in history.

My original question is now expanded and is still unanswered. How do you reach people like me?

Have you researched a social media channel lately?

I’m on LinkedIn. I have email (which I bring with me everywhere in the form of a Blackberry). I listen to/watch podcasts. And I do consume some locally originated broadcast. If this doesn’t provide you with enough clues on how to reach this new media savvy and over-connected pool, you need to email me and let me set you straight.

Because if you don’t learn this today, it’s going to be too late.

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Written by Jeff York

December 29, 2008 at 3:11 am

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Now I’m an advertiser. What does that mean?

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This past week, I was talking with a friend whom also happens to own her own business.  Recently, she’s been thinking about putting spots on TV which she’s never done before.  One of the questions she asked me was how will that make her look.  Does being on TV make a business look “desperate?”

This is actually a very viable question and one I’ve never really considered before.  Within her business peers and competitors, she was concerned that this would impact how they would view her.  In her line of business, how she appears among her peers is important.

If she has a commercial created and puts it on the air, what does that say about her business?  What does that say about her?

Advertising means telling as large an audience as possible about you and your business.  It’s a very effective way to establish your brand and to create points of differentiation in the minds of potential customers.  Advertising means that you believe in your business enough to put marketing dollars behind it.  Since no business has 100% market share in their segment, every business can increase sales with smart marketing.

All of that said, the key has to be smart marketing.  It starts with the message.  Is it right for the medium you plan to use?  Does it exactly match the image of your business you want to portray?  If not, then you can actually damage your business by releasing that message into the public.

Let’s say you now have a perfectly crafted mass media message that will cut through the clutter.  The job is only half done.  Next is finding the right medium for delivering the message.  As I stated in my series of posts on the various mediums, there are a wide range of media to use for delivering your message:  television, radio, newspapers, Internet, direct mail, and outdoor.  Deciding which to use requires thought as to what type of audience you want to reach, the message you want to convey, and budget.  Then you have to make sure that your placement within that media works for you as well.  Is your print ad buried in the paper or did you get a good placement?  Did the TV station sell you ROS (run of schedule) and then put your spot in Jerry Springer?  Did the radio station give you first spot in break or bury you in the middle of the break?

It’s vital that you talk with a good media buyer before committing to a media plan.  Speaking with a rep from a media company will only give you the perspective of why you should advertise only on their station.  Once you’ve purchased a plan from them and started to establish yourself as an advertiser, then good reps will start to have an eye out for you on other media…and you better still be buying time/space with them.  Media buying firms have the whole picture in mind and generally can secure better rates than you can on your own.  They make their money from ad agency commissions that media companies give for placing buys with them.  If you place the buy directly, the media company keeps that commission for themselves.

The bottom line is advertising is good for your business.  If your competition is already advertising, then by not doing so you will start to lose market share.  If they are not, then you immediately place yourself above them in the public’s mind and will start to reap the benefits shortly.  You should know that by putting yourself out there as an advertiser, you should expect that other media reps will start to call on you.  It’s wise to find a good media partner (buyer or ad agency) that you are comfortable with and are confident that they have your best intentions in mind.

Google AdSense…is it worth the pennies?

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The other day, my wife was reading a magazine article on saving money.  One of the suggestions that they made was starting a blog and adding Google AdSense.  Each time someone clicks on one of the sponsored links, you earn a few pennies.  Once your account reaches $100, Google cuts you a check.

Yippie.

Of all the reasons to start a blog, this has to be one of the worst.

However, there is tremendous appeal to passive income generation.  I’ve always said there’s three models for generating income: earn money on your work (employee), earn money on someone else’s work (employer), or earn money on work already done (residuals).

I’d love to hear some feedback from you.  As a reader of this blog, what would be your reaction if you started to see sponsored links in addition to the other original content that I create in the blog?  Would you view it as a selling out or just part of the new Internet landscape and as ignorable as print ads?

Written by Jeff York

August 31, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Get paid!

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Once upon a time, I ran a video production company.  On our website’s profile, I wrote that we would do the work for free if we could, but we have to pay bills.  If you love what you do, you would probably do it for free if you could.

But alas, like me, I’m sure you have bills.

One of my downfalls is that I don’t concentrate on the cash enough.  I blame that on loving what I do.  Just yesterday I was telling my wife that if I hit Powerball today, I would still do what I do.  I love it so much that there are times I forget to ask for the deposit.  Fortunately, I have people around me that keep me in line.

Do as I say, not as I do.

You may have real passion for what you do.  You may be focused on your primary responsibilities to the point that you have blinders on.  But trust me, you ability to continue to do that great work depends entirely on your ability to price your goods and services correctly and to collect accounts receivable.

First, before you can tell your clients/customers what you want to charge, you need to make sure that you are pricing correctly.  It’s OK to be more expensive than your competition if you provide more value.  Then the weight falls on your shoulders to illustrate and prove that you are worth it.  Market research and advertising are the tasks at hand here.

Then go get your customers.  You sign them up.  Get the cash.  You need cash flow to keep afloat while you’re executing.  If you’re like me and you are a service-based industry, then make sure that you have a payment schedule ready and fully understood by all parties.  Often when working on video projects, I ask for 50% up front and 50% on completion.  When working on multimedia projects, sometimes it’s 50% up front, 30% on reaching some milestone in the project, and 20% on completion.  With these examples, you can see that I’m getting at least half up front to get moving.

Thoughts?

Written by Jeff York

August 24, 2008 at 8:43 pm

The three R’s: Writin’, writin’, and writin’

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In a previous post, I talked about the importance of reading other’s writing.  In business, math is essential.  But this week, I want to talk about the other R we learned about in school.

Writing.

This week, I had a chance to have lunch with a writer.  She’s not a published writer as yet, but her work that I’ve read is exceptional.  The experience served as both a beacon of hope that some young people do have the capacity to generate amazing copy and as a reminder that many of the best marketing concepts come from looking at a situation with a different angle.  Her writing does just that.  For example, when talking about snowboarding, she writes “It’s like suicide without the death.”

If you haven’t stopped just now and considered the deliciousness of that statement before reading this sentence, then you simply don’t appreciate good writing.

But thus far this week, I’ve been asking you to read.  Yet, this blog entry is called writing.  What’s the deal?

I believe that writing forces us to look at things from a different angle.  And different writing styles and goals do that differently.  Technical writing causes technically minded individuals to translate that information into something we can all understand.  Copywriting focuses language into pinpoint accuracy to cause another to act on our suggestions.  Without superior writing ability, your message is weak or gets lost.

When writing copy for your business, do you keep in mind your audience?  Does the tone of the writing match your type of business and the type of customer you’re trying to attract?  What are some of the things you keep in mind when writing copy?

Written by Jeff York

August 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Who are you?

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If you’re a small business owner, you often have to grapple with ways in which to grow your business.  You want to attract the largest number of customers as possible without growing too fast and becoming a victim of your own success.  You might be faced with the temptation to expand your company’s core business to offer more services and more products to attract even more customers.

A smart move?  Maybe, but consider this…who are you?  What do people know you today as?

Before you start diversifying into new offerings, consider the confusion that this can cause with your current customer base.  Will your new lines make your existing customers think you’re going to be leaving them behind?  Is your new production complementary to your existing offerings or is to something completely different?  How will you be able to position your company that makes all your offerings a complete package?  If you’re not having this conversation with your marketing department/company before going down this road, you might be setting yourself up for problems with brand confusion and lost identity.

Just more food for thought…

Written by Jeff York

July 6, 2008 at 4:40 am