As Alan Sugar said, "I have written books on advertising - cheque books!"
Why Advertising Is Important
Advertising communicates to existing and prospective customer’s information about services, ideas and products. Good advertising can persuade people to accept a point of view or direct them to desirable course of action. Poor advertising can have the opposite effect!
The following observation taken from a US magazine explores a businesses person’s conflicting feelings about advertising:
‘A man wakes up in the morning after sleeping on an advertised mattress in advertised pyjamas. He will bathe in an advertised tub, wash with advertised soap, shave with an advertised razor, drink advertised coffee after his advertised juice, cereal and toast (toasted in his advertised toaster), and put on advertised clothes. He will ride to work in an advertised car, sit at an advertised desk, smoke advertised cigarettes and write with an advertised pen. Yet this man hesitates to advertise, saying, advertising does not pay. Finally when his unadvertised business goes under, he will advertise it “For Sale”.’
In today’s very crowded competitive market space, with so many mediums of communication available, advertising has become more important and sophisticated than ever before. Yes it can be expensive, but good, targeted advertising should be cost effective and attract enough business to justify its cost.
Best Practice Approach (How to Advertise)
Advertising can be done informally (e.g., word of mouth recommendation) or through an organised formal action plan. The key work here is ‘plan’. You need to know your ‘Product or Service’, your ‘Individual Strengths’, and crucially your ‘Target Market’. Fail to pay heed to these factors and your advertising will at best be an expensive waste of time. Consider first what it is you want to advertise. This could be a product, your business as a whole, or a combination of both.
Product Advertising presents specific products or services for sale and prompts customers to respond to you immediately. It centres on products or services that are either (or a combination of): -Unique; New; Exclusive; or Superior in quality, design, price etc. Product advertising also presents details of special events, promotions or sales.
Institutional Advertising sells your company. You are defining the image of your business, which could be as market leader, fashion leader, and price leader. In practice all advertising should define your image.
The Effect of Advertising
Advertising should grab a consumer’s attention and lead them to desired action (purchase!). The idea is to create AIDA.
A – Attention, I – Interest, D – Desire, A – Action.
Steps to create the AIDA effect
- Decide on your objectives. What do you want to achieve from the advert? Do you want to raise awareness of a new product or service, or perhaps increase sales during a quiet period?
- Identify you target market
- Choose the appropriate mediums, such as radio, newspapers, magazines or leaflets. Research their cost, effectiveness, and circulation. What do your typical customers read? Negotiate the best terms possible for you advertising business
- Plan a campaign. What is your budget? Repeat adverts are more effective than single insertions. Seasonal campaigns, eg., for Spring/Autumn business need to be planned months ahead
- Decide on the adverts size and form. Larger and in colour are more effective but greater cost
- Design and refine your advert content. What is the message? Remember to emphasise the benefits of your service – what’s in it for the customer? How will they benefit? Remember to be honest, and beware of copyright if using other people’s images or text
- Grab attention. Lead with a question in your advert such as, Do you want a beautiful garden? Use power words such as, easy, simple, free, better, and save in your headline
- Use large images that are striking and unusual – make sure that they are of a high resolution, but beware of copyright
- Don’t over complicate the visual effect. Keep font styles to a minimum, using no more than 2 font styles in the advert. Use clear large fonts
- Create an advert template that can be reused each time but with a changed message. Consumers will get to recognise your advert template
- Choose the best space in the publication, top right or bottom right of the page is a good advert location
- Always use professional services to create the final advert – don’t’ produce it yourself on your PC – it will look home produced and cheap
- Consider other PR opportunities. Advertorials, where your supplier’s pay for advertising space and you get free editorial on your company are a very effective option.
Who Should Be Involved
Ideally if your business is large enough, appoint a staff member to be primarily responsible for formal advertising campaigns. Don’t forget however that advertising is only part of the marketing process, and it needs to be used alongside other promotional tools such as personal selling skills, referrals, sales promotions and good merchandising. These are areas in which every staff member in your business has a part to play.
Timing And Monitoring Effectiveness
Carefully plan advertising campaigns to fully exploit the sales opportunities presented by different season or festivals. Many retailers start their Easter campaigns for example shortly after Christmas! Make sure that you also measure the response from an advert or leaflet campaign. It is important to gauge the cost effectiveness of each campaign. Take the ‘drip-drip’ effect into account however - i.e., a good advert may have greater effect in the long term by virtue of repetition taking hold in consumer awareness. Much can also be learnt by watching trends and changes within the world of advertising as a whole.