| Targeted Advertising is the Key to Success
Three Questions to Answer BEFORE You Spend One Cent on Advertising
I worked my way through college employed at a termite and pest control company. Pretty humble beginnings for an aspiring leader!
In California, where I lived, a home cannot be bought or sold without a clean bill of health from a termite and pest control company. As they look for these wood eating insects, termite inspectors also report any dry rot and structural flaws in the property.
Which is how I spent a month one summer in Redwood City.
Our company had inspected an imposing turn-of-the-century home that was being put on the real estate market for the very first time in its storied history. The home rested, not on a foundation, but on a dozen or so stacks of concrete block. We had been contracted to bring this building into the 20th century by putting a suitable foundation underneath it.
The crew I worked on jacked up the house with a house jack, cut the floor joists from the posts that rested on the concrete blocks, dug a trench around the circumference of the house, poured concrete, and lowered the house onto its new foundation. What an ordeal!
It is far easier and less time consuming, to put a foundation in first, and then build a house.
When it comes to advertising, most small businesses are like this old house. Instead of doing the groundwork necessary for success, they go out and build their building: advertising here, advertising there, with varying degrees of success. Thousands and thousands of dollars later, most small business owners have no idea if any of this expensive advertising had any impact at all.
Time spent on your foundation can solve this problem. Here are three questions to answer BEFORE you spend one cent on advertising:
1. Who is your target audience?
Who is the person most likely to use your products or services? This is a counterintuitive practice called narrowcasting. Instead of trying to reach everybody, narrowcasting aims at a very specific, identifiable group of people. Narrowcasting is essential for success in today's crowded marketplace. If you are everything to everyone, you are nothing to no one.
Take the time to know EXACTLY who you want to reach and learn everything about him or her.
One of my small business clients did this by tracking all the people who came into his store during a typical week. From that exercise he was able to determine the age range and gender of his primary target, professional women in their late 30's and early 40's. This group comprised almost two-thirds of everyone who came into his store. Surprisingly, he also learned who was NOT his primary target, young males 18-30, who comprised less that 5% of foot traffic on a given week.
Then he went one step further. This small business owner took 10-15 minutes with 25 of the women in his target and asked them a dozen questions. From their responses he was able to craft a profile of his target complete with likes, dislikes, buying motives, children's ages, daily habits and shaped his advertising by it.
2. What does your target audience read, listen to, or watch?
One of the questions you MUST ask your target audience is what media outlets they read, listen to, or watch. Without knowing this information, your advertising odds are no better that the lottery's.
The dirty little secret in advertising sales is that most buys are ego buys and have nothing to do with targeting. A business owner likes the radio station, or drinks beers after work with the ad rep, or wants to be a TV star in a funny commercial.
If you want to be a star, go to open mic night and the nearest comedy club. Don't gamble away your hard-earned dollars on speculative advertising. Again, find out EXACTLY what your target audience reads, listens to, or watches and place your advertising ONLY on those mediums.
Here too, though, you must be strategic. Don't do something one month in the newspaper and switch to the radio the next month and then try a direct mail coupon book. Dominate a medium that connects with your target.
If there is one secret to successful advertising, it is this: repetition.
This means having your advertising run and run and run on one medium so that it appears like you own that medium. When you are sick of seeing or hearing your ad, GREAT, your prospects are just now noticing it. Once you have dominated a medium in this way, add a new advertising medium only when you can dominate it as well.
3. What is your compelling benefit?
What do you say in your advertising now that you've defined your target and are ready to dominate a medium that speaks directly to them? Here, too, is where small businesses go awry.
Recognize any of these words?
- Quality service
- Lowest price
- Serving the state since 1982
These slogans, and hundreds like them, mean nothing because they don't say anything. A compelling benefit, however, grabs your prospects by the throat and demands their attention.
To craft your compelling benefit, you must first know your competitive advantage. What do you do better than anyone else in the business? Focus on that one thing and state it in a powerful, succinct way. Sure you do other things, and people will get to know that in time, but first you need a clear, simple focus to your messaging.
Now take your competitive advantage and state specifically how you will make a person's life different when they experience it. Will you make them money? Keep them safe? Bring greater health? Increase quality of life?
Here are two examples:
The Kingston Training Group specializes in teaching sales people how to set first appointments. Their six word slogan, all beginning with the letter M, is this: Make More Meetings, Make More Money. Note the competitive advantage, setting appointments, and the compelling benefit, increasing income, stated in a memorable way. Perfect!
The benefit statement I have for my business is this: A BETTER Business, A BETTER Life. I specialize in helping small business owners build their business in a systematic way that allows them to live the life they wanted when they started it in the first place. Again, stated in just six words.
This best part about this tool is that it is absolutely free because words are free. Work on your words. Make them simple, short, and powerful. Then build all your advertising around them.
Bill Zipp, President of Leadership Link, Inc., is a seasoned small business specialist. Bill has spent thousands of hours working with hundreds of business leaders, and his proven program, The Business Fitness System, provides a step-by-step plan for building a strong, self-sustaining small business. For a FREE Special Report, The 3 Biggest Killers of Small Businesses Today (And What YOU Can Do About Them!) visit www.LeadershipLink.net.
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Home: San Ramon, California, United States
About Me: Jim said: Never settle for mediocrity. Life is about change, new growth, and making a difference in the lives around us. No matter what direction life takes us in our new thinking, always striving to do it to the best of our abilities is key to success. Actions speak louder than words. B2B, B2C, and C2C Internet marketing services, ethical SEO, search engine optimization, online advertising strategies, professional web site customizations, website branding solutions with Professional Web Services, marketing business solutions.
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