In order for your business to succeed, you generally need to promote your products or services to the same buyers that your competitors are targeting. Even if your business is one of a kind, you still need to tell target buyers that your business exists–with some kind of advertising or promotional communication.
PR activities are another way to promote the image or reputation of your product. PR is similar to promotion and advertising, but can be more indirect, since some or all of the publicity a company’s products and services receive from public relations activities may not be controlled by the company.
If you’re a larger manufacturer of business-to-business goods, you may need to do much more personal sales promotion (to purchasing agents of your customer firms) than a consumer goods retailer, who would go to a promotion mix that emphasizes paid advertising.
Wherever your business falls on the scale, today you need to be in many places to keep your name and brand in front of customers. The social media aspect today is driving many businesses to re-define how they reach their customers, and pull others away from competition. But this is such an effective way of telling others about who you are and what you. Even thought social media is re-defining how we reach others, there are still some basic things we must do, and questions we need to ask ourselves to run a successful campaign.
- Planning promotional programs outlines the steps you need to take to create a comprehensive promotional game plan.
- Promotion ideas discuss a number of opportunities for materials or events that involve direct product purchase incentives.
- Advertising ideas discuss the use of advertising to inform, educate, persuade, and remind. This is accomplished with outside forces such as billboards, T.V., radio, and print ads in newspapers and magazines.
- Public Relations ideas discuss some indirect but highly effective ways of keeping your business in the public eye.
Let’s focus on advertising first. To keep it simple, I would like to introduce a checklist for you to take a close look at as you develop your Advertising Strategy. And, I’m not referring to advertising on television, or big expensive ads in a magazine. Save those for the big companies. This checklist is broken down into four areas of focus:
Take a few minutes and answer the questions posed in the checklist. This will get you thinking about your Advertising Strategy in a way that will save you a lot of time and, probably more importantly, a lot of money.
As a small business owner, you need to be vigilant about looking for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity and efficiency.
- Have you defined your marketing goals and objectives and written them down?
- What exactly do you want to communicate to your potential customers?
- Are you communicating Buyer Benefits in your advertising?
- Have you strategized an advertising campaign? (What media will you use? What exactly is your marketing mix?)
- Is the timing right for an ad campaign? Why?
- Do you have a planned advertising budget?
- Can you meet the budget with the marketing mix you want to use in your campaign?
- Are you prepared for a successful response?
- Have you asked suppliers about cooperative (co-op) programs and if they will participate?
- Have you made sure that employees are informed of your goals?
- Have all appropriate managers reviewed your advertising and bought into it?
- What is your lead time for running your campaign?
- Does your campaign present a central idea or theme?
- Does your message require a response?
- Is it easy for your customers to find you?
- Is your campaign clear and concise?
- Is your campaign consistent with you desired business image?
- Has someone else besides you reviewed your ad and given input?
- Do your ads match your branding (i.e., letterhead, Web site, company brochure, Facebook, etc.)
- Are you keeping files on all aspects of each campaign?
- Where did the campaign run? What were the results? (Number of responses and sales? Sales increases?)
- How many potential buyers will see your campaign and what percentage response do you expect?
- What percentage do you think will be converted to buyers?
- How much did your campaign cost, and what was your Return on Investment (ROI)?
Competitors and Customers
- Are you watching what your competitors are doing? (Look for repeat ads/campaigns, try to determine why.)
- Where do your competitors advertise and how often?
- Are you willing to try something different, and is it worth the risk?
- Are you able to get ahead of your competition by having a story published about your business?
- Do you conduct periodic surveys with your customers to find out what they like or dislike about your products and services?
- Are you listening to your customers? What do they want? What is important to them? What is not important to them?
- What media are most cost-effective to reach your customers?
- Are you working with a charity of any kind? If yes, what are you doing for them? If no, why not? (this could be your cheapest form of positive PR)