Bring Back the Phone Books

We’ll let you decide on this, but for many local businesses, the phone book used to be something they depended on to bring in new customers every year. We see in our data, there are still business types in specific markets where the phone book still brings in a substantial number of new customers and sales. To some, the phone book is dead, and to others, the phone book still brings a respectable return on the investment.

Phone Books

The quote “Give me the phonebooks back” was said by one of our clients this past month. And this opened some discussion amongst our team on the value and simplicity the phone books have or did have. The businesses which advertised heavily consistently had great tracking and could tell the value it was bringing their business. For some, it was just the fear of not being there which kept them advertising in the phone book.

When we dug deeper to understand this specific client, it was interesting to hear his thoughts. And to some degree, it encompassed the simplicity. Think about it, buy an ad in the phone book and it’s there for the year. You know what it is or is not going to do for your business, and after you signed the contract, you didn’t think much of it until the following year. You could think about it, but you couldn’t change the ad until the next publication.

The internet, on the other hand, may be the exact antithesis of the phone book. Most experts know and study the changes made by Google or other search engines/platforms on a regular basis. For business owners and marketing people, staying up on these changes requires time and there are many different opinions on the best way to win at marketing on the internet. Of course, different for each market and business type. The aforementioned client knows this, and he has his team check regularly where his business is being found online. What page and what position for different search terms are things they look at, as well as the performance of many different online advertising platforms.

No matter how many years the phone books have left in their existence, the internet is the new place people look to go when they are looking for a service or product. And who knows? Maybe our smartphones will become obsolete as well. Being replaced by the likes and/or next generation of what we know today as “Hey Siri,” “Alexa,” or “Hey Google,” and the wave of AI which is here today and growing every day. “Hey, Google – I need a plumber to come out to the house today to repair a leaky faucet,” will be followed with something like, “There are three choices near you, all with a 4.0-star rating or higher. I can connect you to the first one, XYZ plumbing company, which has been in business since 1991 if you would like.”

The future may be closer than we think.

Programmatic Advertising. What is it?

Online Media Buying

You may have heard terms like “Programmatic Advertising” thrown around more and more recently. It has become commonplace for businesses of all sizes to include in their marketing plan. Yet many business owners don’t understand what that means. We understand people are hesitant to try something new, especially if they’re not truly grasping the concept. Let’s talk about Programmatic Advertising so we can all have a better understanding of what it is and what value it may bring to different businesses.

 

Over the past few years, display and video advertising have grown exponentially. We are seeing local businesses slowly start making an entry into this new media, as more and more companies are working with them to help get their feet in the door. Many of the opportunities for using digital and video advertising is only available through Programmatic Advertising. The understanding of the term Programmatic Advertising is not important, however with the term being thrown around so much, it is good as a marketer to understand in principle, the concept, and definition.

 

Programmatic Advertising, in a nutshell, is a computerized purchase of ads on the internet, as opposed to the traditional negotiations of ad contracts (human to human) which are typically much simpler. Programmatic Advertising uses an algorithm (a detailed step-by-step instruction, or formula, for solving a problem or completing a task) to purchase online ad space for lots of competing businesses, in real time, typically with the goal of placing each in the best spots that make the most sense for that business. It is one of the best ways to purchase digital and video advertising for local businesses, at the best cost. For many businesses, it’s the only way.

 

Let’s say you want to advertise your local business with a billboard. The buying process here is relatively easy: find the available billboards, develop your message, and complete the paperwork. This might include meeting with several billboard companies and negotiating the best value for the money.  Now, let’s say you want to show up on digital ad space. It’s more difficult to buy ads showing on specific websites or even be competitive in pricing compared to national brands.

 

Programmatic Advertising solves this problem in the digital world and actually does it better than traditional agreements could manage. It is a good way to target a much more specific market or audience, increasing accuracy and minimizing wasted money.

 

It’s understood with a billboard, approximately half of the people seeing the billboard may be a potential client. So, if you’re selling flooring then your target audience would be homeowners. In 2018 only 64% of the population owned homes, which means your billboard may be targeting up to 36% of people who are not your potential customer. This would be a great example of wasted money. With Programmatic Advertising, you can have your ads targeted to people who own homes at a much higher level by focusing on data which is available about each user (on their computer or phone), such as their search habits or website usage.

 

Though you could purchase digital and video ads from your local newspaper or television station, this is typically less targeted to your desired demographic, and the price (in our own findings) is often higher than general Programmatic Advertising costs. This may differ by region or if bundled with other products/advertising. Print newspaper and digital ads may confuse the price conversation, making it unclear as to the real value of the product on its own. They may sell you space only in their online newspaper or television station, but as soon as they start showing ads in other places, they too are buying into the concept of Programmatic Advertising.

Evaluating Media Choices

Media Choices

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the media choices available at your fingertips? How do I know which channel will be the most “effective”, will I reach the right target audience? If so, is it enough to offset the costs of the marketing campaign. The answer is maybe. There is no right or wrong answer in marketing, it is about research, trial, error and… more research.

Media Choices - Beaverton Oregon

 

Media Options

Because different media are effective for different purposes, it is important to research which media form will truly target your audience market. In recent years we have seen a shift from newspaper, magazine, radio, and billboard advertising to digital ads. Now, this is not a reason to think digital advertising is the way to go. As a small business owner, it may be more beneficial to advertise in your local newspaper, magazine, or radio. For an advertising campaign to be effective, it needs to reach the right target audience, your audience could be a daily city commuter who passes by a billboard multiple times a day or someone who enjoys reading the newspaper instead of surfing the internet.  Media sources should be selected based on your audience’s preferences to maximize your marketing investment.

Nevertheless, with media buying, there will be a “waste factor.” The key is to minimize the waste factor, meaning the percentage of the marketing which is not your intended market. For example, a newspaper ad can have 20,000 impressions but not everyone reading the newspaper may be a potential customer (Maybe you have a pool company and certainly there will be some people who don’t own a pool who reads the newspaper.) If the target reach is 50%, then the real value of advertising in the newspaper is 10,000 impressions. Understanding real value is as important as knowing the full reach a specific media may tout.

 

Budget

While choosing a media outlet, keep your budget in mind. If you have a substantial advertising budget, allocating your budget across different media platforms can be beneficial. If you are a smaller business, be mindful of your budget and compare prices. Looking to advertise in a newspaper? Call and research multiple newspapers, and don’t be afraid to negotiate fair prices to display your media! This is certainly an area where we may be able to help with.

 

Media Evaluation

Whichever media outlet you select, create a plan that will measure the success of the campaign. Disappointed in the results? That’s ok! Keep researching and improving the campaign, if it isn’t yielding the results you want, try another form of media. Measuring data will tell you what can be improved and what you should continue to market. Let us know, what media form is most effective for your business?

What is a Social Influencer?

Social Influencer

Have you ever thought about reaching out to a local celebrity or well-known figure to market your small business? Radio DJs and local sports legends are popular figures for such advertising and have traditionally been used for radio spots or TV commercials. David Robinson, the former basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs, for example, does TV commercials for several local companies in the San Antonio area these days.

Over the past few years, however, influencers on popular social media platforms have been an important marketing tool to reach young audiences around a huge variety of products and services. Endorsements by celebrities are nothing new, but more recently, sponsorships paid for by advertisers have branched out to include popular Instagram accounts, bloggers, and You-Tube stars. News anchors, local food stars, and retired athletes are some popular sources for local businesses to reach out to for influencer marketing.

 

 

How Can an Influencer Benefit My Small Business?

Depending on your business type, reaching out to a local influencer could be beneficial. For instance, if you sell garden supplies in the greater Portland-metro area, being featured on An Oregon Cottage could be a great way to put your brand in front of your ideal consumer. Your products would be exposed to a relevant customer base, coming from a personality that is a trusted resource in the Oregon gardening community.

What is an Endorsement?

Conversely, influencer endorsements affect a very particular audience and are sometimes seen as more trustworthy in the eyes of their followers. Influencers are a part of a niche community and are looked to often as experts that have open dialogues with their followers. Social influencers are usually approachable (they are generally more responsive to comments and messages than celebrities who are sponsored for a campaign) and are considered more authentic compared to celebrity-driven marketing campaigns. Here’s an example of the top social influencer on Instagram for 2018, so far (according to CBS News): Huda Kattan.

Using social influencers responsibly could be a creative way to reach new customers, both on a national and local scale. What are your thoughts on this new, socially-oriented trend?

The 411 on Digital Display Advertising

Digital Display Advertising for Your Business

Search network advertising is something most of us can wrap our heads around – it’s what you do when you go to Google, Bing, or Yahoo and do a search for anything that comes to mind, like saying “electrician Portland” or “personal trainer near me.” Google AdWords dominates the world of online advertising, and many businesses stick with it to hopefully reach the most consumers and meet their business goals. But, over time, businesses may gradually include display advertising in their marketing strategy, often to create brand awareness and remarket to consumers they have interacted with in the past.

 

What is Display Advertising?

Display ads are integrated into the background of specific websites where they are visible to users while they play games, read the news, or shop their favorite brands. Have you ever noticed that the moment you think about making a purchase or doing an activity, you start seeing ads for it everywhere? Display ads can be rich media ads such as banner ads, video, and responsive ads. The targeting of display ads continues to improve to help businesses target their most ideal customer. It also gives many local businesses an opportunity to reach potential customers where television advertising may be outside of the current budget.

 

Is Digital Display Marketing for Me?

Display marketing allows you to build custom audiences by targeting users who have shown an interest in brands, websites, or services like yours. You can also target users based on their demographics or online patterns (like marketing to visitors who have already been to your website). Display marketing works to create brand awareness by simply being in the background on sites targeting relevant users.

Retargeting previous customers or shoppers who never completed an online purchase is something you can do with display advertising. Website visitors who are exposed to your ads through the display network tend to spend more time on your site and are more likely to return. Here are some statistics about the importance of retargeting consumers, specifically using display advertising:

  • 86% of shoppers engage in ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline)
  • 72% of users online are likely to leave their shopping carts before checking out
  • Only 8% of those users will return to complete their purchase
  • With retargeting campaigns, 26% of users will return to complete their purchases (or take the next step in the sales cycle, such as calling a mainline to set up an appointment)

Each business and business type have different needs and marketing goals that must be considered when choosing an appropriate digital marketing strategy. How do you think digital advertising could help your business?

How Much Money Should I Spend on My Advertising?

Is There a Magic Formula?

We’ve now entered the world of Marketing Budgeting, 2.0 as so many things have changed in the past few years. The internet and social media have changed the landscaping of media, but the basics remain the same. Having a budget for your marketing makes sticking to the marketing plan a bit easier.

If you Google “How Much Money Do I Spend On My Advertising,” maybe this blog will come up number one, but there are many articles on this topic. This also depends on what type of business you have. The marketing of a restaurant is very different than the marketing of a manufacturing plant. If you have outside sales people responsible for generating sales, your marketing budget may be a little less. The goal of any marketing plan is to maintain and/or grow the business.

Ways a business grows –

  • New Customers
  • Existing customers spend more money on visit
  • Existing customers come in more often
  • Existing customers tell their friends who become customers (referral)
  • Add product or service line to help with all the above

Do a Google search for this topic and you will find businesses will budget between 3-10% of their sales on marketing. A pretty big variance. That’s the challenge – what is the right advertising budget for your business. We work with many local businesses and we look to gain agreement on what the marketing budget is to start out with. If your growth is more aggressive, it may be towards the higher end of the spectrum. If your growth is steady growth, we look for middle ground here, using 5-6% as our target budget in the planning process. Marketing is to help you grow your business so the investment into marketing is an important one. This is very different than the planning of your media buying or the evaluating of your media choices. If you feel the advertising is not working, then think about what needs to be changed up to make it work better. It wouldn’t make sense to stop advertising just because you haven’t found the “magic” formula…..yet.

As your company grows, your marketing budget dollars will grow, even though the marketing percentage will remain the same. The number may seem high, but so are your total sales. As one of our clients was looking hard at their P & L to see how they were doing, they asked everyone to really watch their numbers – except marketing – this went untouched – as they had learned the lessons of keeping consistent with the marketing budget means consistency with future sales and growth.

One last message here – if you are too busy and getting too many calls/customers where you can’t take on any business for the next month – shift the marketing dollars. Either change up your marketing mix to improve your brand or use the dollars later in the year. Marketing can be for many things, including customer appreciation activities and/or customer gifts or promotional items. Keep steady on the marketing budget, plan the work and work the plan, and you will start to feel better about the investment you are making for the long-term success of your company.

Social Networking

Are You Socially Acceptable?

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. etc. etc. It seems as if every day there is a new social media platform taking the world by storm. As an advertiser, it can be intimidating to try and stay up to date with how to best reach your target audience on these social networks, since we understand the importance of having a digital presence. But each social network serves a different demographic – which networks are right for your line of business? Let’s compare and contrast a few.

2017-12 Social Networks
Facebook. With over 1 billion daily active users, it seems like a no-brainer you’d want your business to reach even a fraction of these users. However, it’s important to understand who uses Facebook. SproutSocial says 88% of people aged 18-29 are on the social network and they are on for an average of 35 minutes per day. But it’s actually those who are 29+ who provide the most engagement. Also, people are using Facebook more and more to seek food, travel, and entertainment recommendations.
So, which businesses do best on Facebook? Primarily B2C businesses. More specifically, retailers with specific products and sales which can produce measurable ROI. Businesses that are B2B or are service based, such as a plumber or insurance agency may not see the same results as a retail business. However, this is not to say other businesses should not be on Facebook. Having a page which is regularly updated with content builds credibility for your brand and helps stay engaged with the local community (for example, posting events happening around the area). Overall, Facebook’s capability to reach so many qualifies it as a resource worth looking into.

 

Instagram. Another huge social media network, with over 800 million monthly active users, that’s focused on photo and video. But is it worth the time, energy or money to have an account for your brand? It may be.
A staggering 59% of all Instagram users are under the age of 30. This means if your line of business is geared towards anyone over the age of 30, which includes a wide range of fields, Instagram may not be worth spending the time on at this day and age. However, if you are able to create a photo or video campaign that is engaging, Instagram may be a great decision for branding and directional marketing. Additionally, Instagram allows users to click and purchase items in the app, which is beneficial for retail companies who are selling items, rather than services. If you’re a B2C company, Instagram can help too. A design firm could use Instagram as their digital portfolio.

 

LinkedIn. Plain and simple, LinkedIn is for B2B marketers. Whether companies are posting updates about acquisitions, finances, or are hiring, users are active on LinkedIn to make moves professionally, and not to make consumerist decisions. LinkedIn is also used to stay connected to current and previous colleagues, industry resources, and business contacts. About 61% of LinkedIn users are between 30 and 64, and they are established in their careers, are married, homeowners, have college degrees, and have the most amount of buying power. Professional in nature, decision makers are seeking the next best thing – personally and professionally – and are the target demographic for your life insurance policies or litigation services.
Before you make any marketing decisions regarding social media, you want to identify your target market and advertising strategy and consider which social media network most closely aligns with that market. Social media is not the end-all-be-all, but if you don’t utilize it, what else are you doing to be seen by your target market?