By Jeffrey Hauser
It's a sad fact that four out of five businesses will fold within the first five years of operation. And the number one reason they will do so is because of poor. or non-existent, advertising or promotion. Assuming they have a sensible product or service at a reasonable price, they should be able to survive. Yet, many small. or start-up enterprises, will spend all their investment on the nuts and bolts of the business from furnishings to signage, ignoring the most important way people will eventually find them; marketing.
The majority of businesses fall into two categories: those that rely on word-of-mouth or those that do a minimal amount of local promotions such as direct mail, flyers, small Yellow Page ads. In any regard, they give advertising very little though. For example, when the Yellow Page representative comes around to talk about their program, they have done little or nothing to prepare for the call. At the very least, they should have considered some of the following issues:
Who are your customers? i.e., men, women, young, old
Where are your customers? i.e., from around the block, citywide, statewide
Which ones are most profitable? i.e., what service or product returns the greatest profit?
What is one customer worth? i.e., what is the value of an average sale?
How do you intend to reach your customers? i.e., marketing, promotions.
What makes your business unique or better than your competition?
If you can answer most of these questions in advance, you're heads and tails above your competition. If you can't, you're in big trouble. Realize that the marketing that actually attracts your potential customers is built upon the foundation of understanding what type of customer you are seeking. Once you have formulated a profile of the perfect customer, you can plan a strategy for marketing to them.
The shoot-from-the-hip approach of making it up as you go along will waste time and money. In other words, poor planning will lead to poor results. If you devote as much time in developing an advertising campaign as you might have done picking colors for your office, you would be far better off. You should also be able to figure out your ROI, or return on investment based on that average sale and track the results. The latter is important for future marketing approaches to enable zeroing in on the most effective format or media.
Remember that most media can be worthwhile if the message is designed properly. I should know. I was a YP rep and consultant for nearly 25 years and, prior to that, had my own advertising agency. I also have a degree in marketing. I've been designing Yellow Page ads for the past three decades. So I have expertise in YP creation and have advised almost 7000 companies on how to put together the most effective YP ads. If you have a display or in-column ad, regardless of size, color or position, I can tell you it most probably needs improvement in the headline, artwork, body text, placement, book, or heading. You must understand the ROI or return on investment and learn how to track the results as well.
So consider getting some expert advice before you place your next ad. There are many good and inexpensive places to turn, some available on the internet. Make sure the consultant is well qualified with at least 25 years experience. Otherwise, you'll be wasting your own time and money.
Knowing what makes an effective ad is the real secret to success.