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?

Did I Hear Someone Say “SWOT Analysis?”

Analysis

A SWOT analysis is something which has been around a long time and is nothing really new. But what is old is new again as a new generation of leaders comes into leadership. It is a term used to help a company, a specific project, or an individual evaluate in the effort towards improvement. And of course, improvements are key to growth, both personally and professionally, regardless of size.

If you have already done a SWOT analysis sometime in your past or you are doing it on a regular basis, then you already have a pretty good idea of the benefits this may bring. Like any other goal setting, if you don’t do the follow-up, then this would be a waste of time. The benefits of the SWOT analysis are to help in planning your goals for the coming months or year to provide direction on what is most important, allowing you to prioritize what should be done first.

One way to do this with your company would be to have all key members do a SWOT Analysis individually and then bring the group together to get everyone’s input. Once everyone has contributed, then everyone can agree on the priorities and work out a plan going forward. Getting the team involved is a great way to help drive improvements along the way. It is a good idea to define what is being looked for under each topic. Here are a couple definitions which may help for clarification.

SWOT-Louvre-Media

Strengths and Weaknesses are both internal factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) Looking at your strengths will help keep the focus on doing more of what you do well and may define some future actions to keep these strong. Looking at the weaknesses will help define opportunities for improvement and these should be prioritized by what will get the biggest results with the lowest amount of efforts. Getting big wins from doing this out of the gate will create a winning feeling among the team.

Opportunities and Threats are both external factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) In looking at the opportunities, this may be new legislation which affect your business in a positive way. It could even be a product or service you offer which is well needed in the marketplace, but not enough people know about it, or it could be a competitor closing shop. Threats could be things like increased competition, pricing of competitor’s, or things you aren’t doing which your competitors are doing, and could even be something like upcoming road construction, driving the traffic pattern away from your business for a while. Your ability to minimize the threats may be a big factor in your future goals and can be turned into a positive with the right plan of action.

These definitions will help you get on the right track in doing a SWOT analysis and gaining clarity to the process, and as important, the takeaways in doing this. Making it a team process with the key members of the team will create a better environment not only in getting more ideas but in working towards the key goal of making things better for your company.

 

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.

Buying Decisions

Running a business comes with lots of buying decisions and even more options.

From office supplies and software packages, to insurance companies, and so much more. Choosing the best option can be exhausting. It’d be easy to say yes to the first sales pitch from the first company you approach, but history has shown us that the best sales pitch isn’t always the best choice. Knowledge is power and having knowledge of the product which is being sold to you gives you power in a sales presentation to ask the right questions, evaluate its value to your company’s specific needs, and make an informed decision. Let’s think about what it takes to become an informed decision maker.

2018-02 Buying Decisions

Where do you seek information on the product you are looking to buy, or the other person is looking to sell to you? Energized, eager salespeople are more than excited to tell you everything you want or need to hear to purchase their product. The goal of the salesperson is to make the sale of the product, not necessarily to ensure that the product fulfills its purpose or provides the most return on investment (ROI) for your business. You need to be able to make an informed decision on whether a product and its price will provide value for your business. Making decisions based on quick statistics or a sales presentation has the potential to be a quick fix, not a sustainable fix, and consequently a waste of your time and/or money.

As a rule of thumb, you should know your specific need before you make a purchase. For example, if you are looking for a new billing software for your accountant, but don’t know exactly which features your accountant uses or needs, how will you pick the right product? You could hear a sales pitch on a very high-end accounting software which provides lots of bells and whistles and sounds great, but its much more complicated and will require training for your accountant to even use it. Or, you could approach multiple companies and find the cheapest software, and it end up being worse quality than what you currently have. In this case, you’ve found the cheapest option, but you’ve wasted money because you still do not have the proper software.

In some scenarios, you’re not even looking for a new product or service, and instead, you are approached by a salesperson via phone or email. Let’s revisit the accounting software example. This time, you already have software, therefore your immediate reaction is to politely decline the phone call almost as soon as you answer. However, what if this software is a much better value or can increase efficiency in your office? Perhaps the product offers features which your current software does not. It might not, but if we are not making informed decisions across the board, we are doing ourselves and our wallets a disservice. The solution to this is to ask questions or even ask for a follow-up meeting in a week. This allows you some time to look into whether or not you need an updated accounting software. If you do, you can research which features this new product would need to offer for it to be better than the software you currently use.

When it comes down to it, knowing is key. Whether you are learning your specific needs before you buy a product or you are taking time to ask questions about a product you’ve been approached with, a little extra legwork and background research will help you see that it’s possible to save money by spending money, and you’ll feel confident in your buying decisions.

When to Rebrand

Feeling Refreshed?

After initially starting a business, the most daunting tasks include creating the logo, slogan, and other branding details. Since your logo is on virtually everything you produce or market, it’s no wonder why business owners will give thousands of dollars to an outside creative agency so they’ll build the perfect logo. As time goes on, even the perfect design and color scheme can become outdated. Whether you are no longer ‘San Diego Blinds’ and now you’re selling to the whole West Coast, or you’re wanting to reinvent yourself in the marketplace to stand out from competitors, updating your logo is oftentimes necessary for your business to continue to grow and stay relevant.

2018-01 When to Rebrand

Change is hard- but it’s good. Consider the merger or acquisition of a new company. It may cost a lot of money, and there’s a lot of paperwork involved and many moving parts. But if you’ve played your cards right, it’s a stepping stone to exponential growth for your business. And speaking of mergers, if you’re merging or acquiring a company, you’ll probably need to update your logo, too. Leo Tolstoy describes change like this: ‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.’ While we doubt he was referring to a re-brand, sometimes the marketing strategy we need to implement isn’t about focusing on countering the competitors, but rather it’s an internal change or shift which needs to occur.

Some signs your logo needs an update?

1. You’ve changed your company’s offerings. It no longer makes sense to have a kayak as your logo if you’re now focusing primarily on hunting gear. Right? It may be time for a completely new logo.

2. You’ve merged or acquired a new company. Like we mentioned before if you’re expanding from a local brand to a regional brand, or you now have a much wider range of offerings, keeping the Chicago Skyline in your logo may limit your customers base to only the Chicagoland area. Consider a shift in your logo that does not limit yourself geographically or otherwise.

3. The colors don’t make sense. Trends in colors, styles, and fonts are constantly changing. More importantly than that, colors can help convey the right message. Maybe if you’re ‘All-American Plumbing’ it would make more sense to have a red, white, and blue logo instead of a green and orange one. Do your colors make sense for your brand?

4. You don’t stand out. If you’re using a bland font, your logo looks like every other logo in your line of business, or your logo is too busy/confusing, there’s nothing keeping a customer from going with whichever brand has the lowest prices or is closest to their home. First impressions are important- what is the impression you’re giving?

It’s impossible to control every outside factor which may affect your business. Industry trends, the economy, the weather, and many more factors can change in the blink of an eye. So whether the business is stagnant, declining or slowly growing, consider focusing on improving internal systems and things you can control. Have you thought much about how your logo – the customer’s first impression – could be affecting business?

 

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?