Getting Out The Word

Getting Out the Word Small Business Edition by Linda Lullie, Inspired 2 Design, LLCAt this very moment there are AT LEAST 9 other companies competing for YOUR customers. How will you convince them to buy from you? Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers – ever wonder what did he do with them once he’d picked them all? Marketing is the process of picking, preparing, and pricing a product (or service) to promote for purchase. Peter may very well have gone into the salsa business, opened a produce stand, or a restaurant. But how did he draw customers in and get them to buy his spicy product? The success of any business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. When you started your company you decided many of the marketing strategies needed to bring a product or service to market. These strategies include how your business solves a problem or fills a need, and who your
target market is, then you open the store. Now it’s time to drive traffic to your front door. Promotion is the process and the product of “getting out the word”. Rarely does a product or service arise that does not require some type of promotion to generate sales. There are three major strategies to connect with customers. Although each method can be effective independently, utilize a combination for a well-rounded marketing plan. A multi-channel approach utilizes Advertising (the production and placement of ads) with the personal interaction of Sales, and the least expensive – yet least controllable channel, Public Relations. Armed with all three, savvy business owners construct an arsenal of promotion tools. Your must determine which form of which method to use when and with whom – then evaluate cost effectiveness by a cost per response ratio. Advertising is, in its most simple form, the practice of informing the public about your goods or services – and compelling them to make a purchase. You control the message – which should be consistent with your identity, the placement – which should be targeted, and the frequency and timing – which should be often enough to remind your customers of who you are and what you do. Many believe that the average person must be exposed to an ad piece seven times to be motivated by it. The message should produce awareness and effectively maintain a positive image of your company, goods and services – while persuading the public that your goods or services outperform competitors. Getting the 411 When it comes to deciding where to spend advertising dollars, start with the basic Yellow Pages ad. All directory ads have one thing in common – they supply information to a consumer who is ready to buy a product or service. Therefore, directory ads represent the one time when you need not convince the consumer to buy – you just need to convince them to buy FROM YOU. Your ad will be surrounded by competitors’ ads for the same or similar goods and services. So, how do you convince the customer to hire you? First, your ad has to be seen. Second, your ad has to scream experience and reliability. Getting noticed is priority, so make sure your ad is under the heading that is most commonly sought after for your product or service. You don’t want an Air Conditioning business listed under Retirement Homes. Often there will be multiple categories for an ad under, so look through the book before you place the call. Multiple listings should also yield a discounted rate. Size matters! The bigger the ad, the more noticeable it will be, and the more information you can include. Look at competitors, look at your budget and then purchase the largest space you can afford. Content must-haves include products/services offered, years in business, licensing, any seals or other reliability sellers, logo, location, phone number, hours and website address. As with all your advertising monies spent, keep a record of which promotions return the best – so make it a point to ask new customers how they heard about your business – track and repeat the winners, dump the losers. The directory ad is just the beginning. What’s black, and white, and read all over? That old riddle is not far off the mark. Truth is, newspaper ads are location driven, and reach