When it comes to launching or growing a business, one of the most important marketing functions that a business can do is advertise to get the word out that “I am here, I am here, I am here.” (It reminded me of Horton from Horton Hears a Who). The info graphic below illustrates the Top 10 Most Trusted Forms of Advertising, according to Nielsen’s 2013 Trust in Advertising Report.
The problem is that there are so many advertising choices, and some are quite expensive. Furthermore, some advertising mediums work better than others depending on your type of business and what you are selling. How is a business owner to choose?
When choosing an advertising medium, to attract new customers it’s important to identify two things.
- Who are my ideal customers? Who are they and where are they? For example, my (23 Kazoos) ideal customers are independent business owners in Arizona with annual revenues of $1 million dollars and up who are so busy running the day to day operations of their business that they don’t have time to market. My ideal customers typically invest in marketing but it has fallen by the wayside as their business has grown. In addition, my ideal customers are owners of auto repair shops, food or agriculture related businesses, and medical/dental offices. You can narrow your ideal customer down more specifically as well, especially if you own a service related business that services customers within a geographic area, such as a city or zip code.
- How do they find out about the products and services they need? My ideal customers depend on word of mouth and referrals from other business owners when they are looking for products and services. They also turn to the Internet. Because they are so busy they rarely have time to watch TV or read the newspaper or a magazine. They do listen to the radio while they are driving.
Once you have these three questions answered it will be easier to make a decision as to which of the Top 10 Most Trusted Forms of Advertising would work best for your business.
- Recommendations from people I know. Recommendations or reviews are the most trusted and probably the most powerful form of advertising. How does a business owner tap into it? An easy way is to request testimonials from current customers and make sure that they are posted online and used in all of your marketing materials. You could also implement a referral campaign. One auto shop owner I know gives all of his ideal customers half price oil change certificates to give to his family and friends.
- Branded websites: A website is a must, however, far too many business owners will put up a website and then ignore it, leaving up outdated information. Your website is your 24/7 sales associate and thus an extension of you. It should be current, quality and credible.
- Opinions posted online: Honestly, this is one area where my business falls short. I have plenty of reviews but they are all on my website. I hesitate to ask my customers for online reviews because they are so busy. However, I can see from this exercise it would be a powerful form of advertising for my business. You must take caution when requesting online reviews however. Most online review portals such as Google and Yelp do not allow you to compensate people for leaving reviews, so NEVER offer an incentive such as a free service for leaving a review. If it is discovered that you have done so the reviews will be flagged, and in Yelp’s case, hidden. Also, some review sites like Yelp frown upon solicited reviews.
- Editorial content: This can be a huge credibility builder and a consistent lead generator. For example, we secured a monthly column about sleep in the Arizona Republic for our client Valley Sleep Center. This column shows authority and expertise which help your potential customers feel more at ease in making the decision to call you for help. Valley Sleep Center receives calls and emails from new clients who have read this monthly column.
- Ads on TV: Television advertising can be expensive, but it can also be effective if you have a broad geographic customer base. Our client Valley Sleep Center has five clinics situated throughout the Phoenix area, in addition their clients are mostly over the age of 45 and avid consumers of television. This type of advertising might be a good choice for them. However, if they only had one location, it might not be.
- Brand sponsorship: Brand sponsorship includes sponsoring an event (such as a golf tournament). Brand sponsorships in my opinion are expensive and for most small businesses not as effective as other forms of advertising.
- Ads in newspapers: One of the most effective forms of advertising for some of the auto repair shops that we market for have been ads in newspapers. It’s proven that the bigger the ad the bigger the results. We prefer to use inserts with coupons as a way to attract new customers to the auto repair shops, however for our food-related businesses display ads work very well.
- Ads in Magazines: Magazines have a long shelf-life meaning that people may see your advertisement more often and for a longer period of time than a traditional newspaper ad. Make sure that the magazine that you advertise in is one that your ideal customer reads. I recommend for all advertising (except for your website) that you use a separate tracking phone number to track the effectiveness of your ad.
- Billboards and other Outdoor Advertising: Billboards, business signs, sandwich boards and more can be effective attention getters and lead generators. My opinion is that they are most effective when advertising a new product or service: For example, Paradise Bakery used a highway billboard to advertise their new Turkey salad. I know it worked for me because I just had to go in and try it!
- Ads on Radio: Our automotive clients and healthcare clients use radio ads very effectively. They generate consistent leads and credibility on a regular basis. Two of our automotive clients also have a regular radio show. We use real customers giving real testimonials in our radio ads and have seen tremendous results. This has been especially effective for Valley Sleep Center because they have such a broad reach. In addition a celebrity endorsement can also be a huge lead generator.
None of these advertising media will work if you don’t understand who your ideal customers are and how they find out about new products and services. So do your homework.
Do you agree or disagree with my post? I appreciate your comments.