Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘outdoor

It’s time to get horizontal

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product2This blog has been chock full of ideas and concepts on how you can increase awareness of your product. We’ve talked about on-air advertising (television and radio), print, outdoor, Internet, direct response, economic challenges, the power of social media, and Guerilla Marketing. We’ve even talked about co-op advertising. This week, we’re going to explore the idea behind horizontal marketing.

Let’s say you make…oh, I don’t know…in keeping with the horizontal theme: mattresses. You want to increase the awareness of your product so you know you have to advertise. The problem is your particular product isn’t something that people can easily browse in a store like a candy bar or shirts. Your product has to be a destination for a shopper in order for a potential customer to lay hands on it. Beyond traditional media buys and storewide sales events, what else can you do?

Similar to the concept I forwarded with co-op advertising, are there interconnected businesses that you have a relationship with where you can co-promote together? For example, maybe there is a home improvement store or a bed sheet manufacturer where you can build a partnership. With the purchase of a mattress, you get a set of bet sheets or a gift card to a home improvement store to further improve your bedroom. Then in buying the traditional media, you can split costs with your partner thereby lowering your advertising costs.

If you own a mattress store, it’s smart to think vertically and split ad costs with mattress manufacturers, but there are endless possibilities horizontally as well, all of which can lower your marketing costs and increase your exposure.

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.

Advertising Media – Part 6: Outdoor

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Your name should be in lights.

Of course, by that I mean, your business name should be spread across yard after yard of billboard space where hundreds of people traveling about 65 miles per hour can glance at it for a total of about 2 seconds…if they bother to look up at all.

Then there’s the bus. Ever thought about putting your logo on that smelly crosstown bus that drives the same route everyday driving by the same people day after day? Or what about on the bus stand itself.

How about the side of a blimp? Or a panel truck? Or a cab top?

There are so many ways to buy outdoor, many of which you might not even heard of, that you could go crazy trying to examine them all. You can rent a cycling team to drive through downtown areas carrying a flag with your logo. You can rent street crews to give out flyers. How about buying the top of pizza boxes from a popular pizza restaurant?

Really, the question is who are you trying to reach? Which do you think is more effective, flying your banner behind a biplane over the 50,000 in attendance at game 4 of the World Series or the millions watching on TV? Are you trying to reach the one person walking down the street coincidentally at the same time a truck or van with your logo goes by, or the thousands that are reading the newspaper at the same time?

Hitting scores of people at once is always inferior to hitting thousands at once. After all, the whole idea of mass media messaging is to reach your potential new customers in a memorable way. Like sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people you hit, the better the chance those people are looking for your goods or services.

It’s been my experience that outdoor advertising is the definition of clutter. Like a bad TV ad, it’s just part of our daily environment and our brains have been trained and conditioned to tune it out. I’ve never really considered outdoor as a viable cornerstone to a marketing campaign nor have I recommended it to my clients. However, there are a substantial number of companies that specialize in outdoor advertising. They must be successful for a reason. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any experience in outdoor advertising. What’s worked for you? How have you cut through the clutter and done something that’s memorable? Was it part of a bigger campaign or was it your campaign? What would you recommend to others that are considering the same avenue?

Written by Jeff York

May 25, 2008 at 1:08 am