Want to learn how to advertise your business? Of course you do! Marketing is the backbone of any business and advertising is critical part of marketing.
Advertising is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. The goal is that they will buy something. Advertising can increase brand awareness and sales.
When done right, advertising can increase sales and drive growth. When done poorly, advertising is a waste of time and money.
Introduction: What is Advertising?
Advertising is the act of calling public attention to a product or service. It is a form of communication designed to inform and persuade people to buy products, services, or ideas.
What are the Different Types of Advertising?
There are many different types of ads that are used to promote a product or service. These include:
- Print Ads (magazine, newspapers, directories, direct mail, etc.)
- TV Ads
- Radio Ads
- Newspaper Advertising
- Billboard Ads
- Internet Ads (PPC, SEO)
- Native Ads
How to Advertise Your Business: Choose the Right Type of Advertising
The best type of marketing and advertising for your business will depend upon:
- the type of sale your business is making
- the audience that you are trying to reach.
There is no one size fits all solution for this question. It really depends upon the type of sale you are making and what what your target audience wants/needs.
Without a marketing strategy, you’ll be engaging in spray and pray advertising. Spray and pray advertising simply means using a wide variety of marketing tactics without any overall guiding strategy. There’s a huge difference between marketing tactics vs marketing strategy. Marketing tactics are things you do, like sending out postcards. Some marketing tactics which work great for some businesses but not for others.
You probably intuitively understand that selling office supplies is an entirely different business than running a medical practice. Neil Rackham quantifies this intuitive understanding by classifying business according to type. The type of sale your business is making is critically important to creating advertising success.
Marketing Strategy vs Tactics
When it comes to marketing strategy vs tactics, you don’t have to choose. You need both marketing tactics vs strategy working together in unison to grow your business.
When you spend money on advertising without a plan, it’s like going to the store without a list. When you go shopping without a list, you often end up with a cart full of “impulse” purchases. Fortunately, physical products bought on impulse can be returned. However, you can’t return your advertising to get a refund. Without an incredible dedication to measuring your marketing, you’ll find it difficult to identify and trim any excessive spending.
A Pioneer in Advertising
Trying to get the most out of your advertising dollars is nothing new. Considered the father of modern day retailing, John Wanamaker grew his clothing store into the first department store. In 1876 he opened a restaurant inside his store. Two years later, he installed electric lights.
In the Who Made America series on PBS, John Wanamaker’s stores were called “palaces of consumption.” He was constantly thinking outside the box when marketing his business. He printed the first-ever, copyrighted store advertisement in 1874. In his ads, he promised quality goods and offered a money-back-guarantee.
Remember, this was a time when “snake oil” salesmen roamed the land making outlandish promises to sell their wares. After a short stay in one town, these peddlers would slip off into the night to fleece the residents of yet another town.
When the local residents discovered the promises he made in his ads were true, his business boomed.
Wanamaker is widely credited with saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
He would be stunned at how precisely we can measure the performance your advertising dollar today, but I suspect it wouldn’t change his mind about the above statement.
How to Advertise Your Business: Creating an Effective Ad Campaign
An ad campaign is a sequence of announcements and advertisements which are interconnected in order to create a particular message. The aim of an ad campaign is to convince customers to buy a product or service. When advertising is truly evil, it is used to get you to to vote for a candidate.
The key elements of an effective advertising campaign are:
- A clear message that speaks directly to the target audience
- A clear call-to-action
- An understanding of the customer’s motivations, needs, and desires
- Relevant timing
How to Advertise Your Business: Measuring Vs Polling
There’s nothing wrong with trying to “trim the fat” from your marketing budget. However, if you’ve been engaging in spray and pray advertising, this can actually do more harm than good. Back in the 1990’s I was once called by a business owner whose business was on the verge of closing. He needed help and he needed it fast. During our initial meeting, I asked him to describe a time when his business was successful. His face light up as he told about when his business was thriving. I then asked about the advertising he was doing at that time. He reported that he used a wide variety of media – television, radio, newspaper plus a number of local print publications.
Next, I asked him when things started to go wrong. He thought for a moment and decided the decline started when he tried to measure the effectiveness of his advertising.
Like John Wanamaker, he was pretty sure more than half of his advertising dollars were being wasted. Unfortunately, he began polling his customers trying to measure his advertising’s effectiveness.
How to Advertise Your Business: The problem with polling
His polling took the form of aggressively grilling new customers as they walked in the door. When the customers he polled didn’t mention his recent television advertising campaign, he canceled his TV advertising. When the customers he polled didn’t mention his radio ads, he canceled his radio advertising.
One by one, he described how and why he had canceled his advertising contracts with various media outlets. By the time he finished telling me of his analysis, he realized what he had done.
The decline in his business had happened gradually. Each time a local resident saw his tv ad, or hear his radio ad, or saw his print ad, another drop fell into a metaphorical “market awareness bucket”. When he cancelled a media contract, he would punch a few new pinholes into this bucket. Not only was he punching pinholes, he was also failing to refill the bucket.
Our metaphorical “market awareness bucket” is a leaky vessel. It has to be constantly filled or it will drain away. This is why he couldn’t point to a single pinhole that caused the bucket to empty. Instead, his business began trickling away slowly. The decline was so gradual that he hadn’t recognized the cause and effect until he was recounting the decline of his business to me.
He’s not the first business owner who’s tried to measure his advertising performance by polling his customers. However, his tale was one of the most extreme I’ve heard. I had developed a reputation for helping business owners operating on a shoestring marketing budget to get great results. By the time he contacted me, he couldn’t even afford the shoestring. I couldn’t help someone who had no money for advertising and that’s exactly where he was.
How to Advertise Your Business: Measure Your Marketing
I’m reminded of another client I worked with years later. He decided to measure his advertising by polling his customers. At the time, we were running a carefully crafted marketing campaign. The campaign was designed with the call to action (CTA) as “Visit our website.” I had a very good reason for this. I wanted to measure the effectiveness of our marketing by directing visitors to the website. That way I could use log files to actually SEE if traffic improved.
My client didn’t know his web site traffic had spiked considerably as a result of the campaign. What he did know was that he was seeing new customers. He was understandably excited. It was the first time he had ever seen results from his advertising. I cringed when he told me of the grilling he had put one of his new customers through.
He began by asking “Did you see our ad on TV?” The customer replied, “No.” My client was disappointed but wasn’t about to give up. He continued, “Did you find us on the web?” Again, the customer said she hadn’t visited the website.
Measure results – don’t ask
My client kept pressing his poor new customer for an answer. I imagine the customer was regretting the decision to visit his store by this time. In an effort to end the line of questioning, the customer finally blurted out, “I saw a sign when I was on the way over here.” My client was crushed. He didn’t have any signs or billboards posted anywhere other than in his front door.
In case you’re wondering, this didn’t stop him. He kept pressing her to find out WHERE she had seen the sign. (Yes, he grilled her as to the route she took to find him. SIGH!) Remember, he didn’t have any billboards or signs anywhere other than his front door.
When he told me that he was polling his customers, I BEGGED him to stop! I explained that even though the new customer had wanted to help, she couldn’t. She honestly didn’t know WHY she had chosen his business. It’s that way for a lot of your customers.
That’s why polling your customers is a really bad idea. It’s also why “stop by today” is a terribly CTA. Instead, we used “visit the website.” By using this CTA, we were able to measure the effectiveness of the campaign by the increase in visitors to his website. However, the real measure of effectiveness of his advertising campaign was the new faces he saw as a result.
How to Advertise Your Business: Keys to Effective Advertising
Why was this advertising campaign the first time my client saw new customers as a result of his advertising?
- His previous advertising had been the spray and pray variety. For the first time, he was running ads with a goal in mind.
- We created a marketing message focused upon benefits instead of features.
- We used marketing tactics that were appropriate for his YMYL type business.
- I created a CTA with measurement in mind so he wouldn’t have to subject his customers to incessant polling.
Conclusion: The Importance of Marketing & How to Advertise Your Business
Marketing is a complicated field that requires a lot of time and effort. Marketing is the backbone of any business. When done well, it helps businesses grow by increasing sales and by getting their products or services in front of more people.
How to Advertise Your Business Takeaways:
There are two general types of business models according to Neil Rackham. The marketing tactics that work well for one type of sale do not work for the other.
Most consumer buying decisions are too complex to track by a single metric. Random customer polling is not measuring.
Want to learn more? Pick up a copy of my book Beyond the Niche.