Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘word of mouth

Let’s talk about me

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wordofmouthLet’s say I’m your ad agency. You hire to me to create compelling messages that talk about how great you are, how you deliver more (service, value, expertise, whatever) than your competition. And then we channel that message into all the right places for you to reach new customers. Finally, we repeat that message enough to cut through the clutter and reach into the consciousness of the audience.

Success? Likely, yes. But then what? It’s one thing to toot your own horn. It’s quite another to have someone do that for you. When interviewing for a job, you get the chance to talk all about how great you are. If you’re then a serious candidate, then the employer’s going to want to talk to others that know you.

If you’re bidding on new work, your prospect will likely want to know what you’ve done in the past. Then they’re going to want to talk to people you’ve done work for.

Third party information about you carries a lot of weight and credibility. When conducting B2C business, why not put that power to work as well?

How? Testimonials. Get others to talk about you.

I’ve done it successfully in TV commercials, in radio spots, in print collateral, and even in my own personal online bio (check out my LinkedIn page).

In the past, you’ve heard me suggest that you should talk to your customers. It’s vital to know what they think of you. If you’re doing your job well, then it’s likely you will have no shortage of people wanting to sing your praises. Get them to write something. Ask them if they’d be willing to be on camera or in front of a microphone.

It’s the closest thing you can get to buying word-of-mouth advertising.

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Written by Jeff York

April 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

Advertising Media – Part 1: Broadcast Television

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I have developed content for many different advertising media as well as purchased different types of mediums. When I work with a client to help them to develop a marketing strategy, part of the conversation has to focus on the medium(s) through which the message will be delivered. I thought it would be instructional and beneficial to talk about the different types of advertising mediums that are available today. This will be a relatively superficial guide for novices just started to wrap their heads around mass media advertising and I hope that you will contact me for a more in-depth conversation as to what is right for you.

I will start with the medium that I know the best and have spent the most time with: broadcast television.

The concept of television was first kicked around near the start of the 20th century with ideas and concepts turned into experiments in the 1920’s. To me, broadcast television as an advertising medium was born when the first two commercial television stations were granted licenses on July 1, 1941 and continues in the numerous television stations that cover the nation, some affiliated with broadcast networks and others running programming as independents.

Independent television stations air shows without the benefit of programming provided by a network. This makes their audience-building task more difficult and often they make the decision based on a desire not to pay the networks their reverse compensation fees any longer and instead hope that the brand they have already built will carry an audience.

In a strictly bang-for-buck, I think that television provides the best vehicle for advertisers…especially broadcast television. You have access to two of the viewer’s senses to get your point across. The audiences are still the largest of the mediums. Broadcast television still provides watercooler conversations around the office. Over the past several decades, television has taken a hit in audience size as people have turned to other activities during hours that would normally be considered prime time, but even still, the place where you can find the largest heterogeneous audiences.

Cable television entered the scene in the late 1940’s as a way to get broadcast signals to the rural farms in Pennsylvania, but quickly people realized its potential to narrowcast special interest programming to an interested audience. Today, there is an average of 102 cable networks offered to each American household (from Spots ‘N’ Dots, 9/26/03) fragmenting the audience. Purchasing a cable network means either a national buy (very expensive and unnessessary for most business owners) or purchasing spots through a local cable outlet. Typically these spots only reach a small geographic area unless you pay extra for mutliple “systems”. If you wish to have the same reach as a local broadcast station buy purchasing cable, you will have to invest with a large number of cable companies while dealing with a host of ad sales reps. This is a real nightmare to say the least.

Comparing audiences, the hotest shows on cable have audiences that would be considered complete failures in broadcast. I remember a time around 2002 or 2003 when cable was first able to say that they were on a par with brodcast. What this really meant was that with their over 100 channels, they were able to aggregate the same audience that broadcast had. But keep in mind, at the time, there were only 7 commercial broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, WB, UPN, PAX). Today, we have one fewer broadcast network with The WB and UPN merging to form The CW.

So that’s television in a very small nutshell. Obviously, there are tricks to buying TV and placement issues that you can talk over with your sales reps. There are tremendous metrics in place to help you with finding the right demographics and shows for your advertising. Or, of course, you can give me a call and take advantage of my years of experience in media buying.

Most of all, good luck with your media buying. Mass media remains the single strongest way of growing a business. Until someone finds a way to easily purchase word-of-mouth advertising, television will remain the best value for advertising dollars for at least the next few years.

Integrity, karma, and business

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According to Wikipedia, integrity is “the basing of one’s actions on an internally consistent framework of principles.”  In the world of freelance media, we often find ourselves in vulnerable positions.  Sometimes we are asked to submit creative work on spec.  Sometimes we work to develop new business with the understanding that commissions would be paid.  I have been in this situation several times recently with entirely different outcomes.

If your business model involves the generation of creative materials or concepts, a substantial amount of your success relies on other people operating with integrity.  You provided logo proofs for approval without full payment, for example.  They, in turn, choose which sample to run with and you executed it, providing the client with full vector, breakouts, etc of their new logo.  They could easily have taken your proof and gone elsewhere with it for execution.  Maybe they have a niece that’s going to art school or a neighbor that knows Photoshop.  But if they operated with integrity, then they knew they entered into an implied agreement with you and you will do the work.  If they don’t like your work, then they return the proofs and seek help elsewhere.

I have been on the wrong end of this scenerio several times.  Creative work has substantial value.  So does operating with integrity.  Your reputation is everything in the small world of creative developers.  Your brand is built on the way you’ve conducted business.  There is no better advertising than word of mouth.  Those mouths can just as easily destroy businesses as it can build them.

Have you been in a situation where someone has operated in a less than honest fashion?  Have you been in a situation where your creative was regarded without value?  What did you do to rectify the situation?  What can be done to protect your greatest product, your creative, in the future?

Written by Jeff York

March 21, 2008 at 11:26 pm