5 Important Advertising Tips

1)  Advertising  is Key! Truth is…you can’t afford not to advertise. Statistically speaking, research shows…companies that maintain their  advertising  throughout a recession are poised to reap benefits over their competitors, who do not advertise, especially once the market begins to recover. Therefore, slightly increasing your  advertising  in order to get the edge over your competition is a good idea. However, if you’re not in a position to do that, try to maintain your normal spending levels if at all possible. First and foremost…  advertising  is the promotion of a company’s products or services carried out essentially to drive sales of the products or services, but also, to build a brand identity and communicate any changes or new products or services to the customer base. If you want to grow your company’s profitability and improve your bottom line…you must ADVERTISE!

2) Choose your  advertising  method wisely. Here are some options.

a) Print  advertising : newspapers, magazines, brochures, fliers & direct mail

b) Outdoor  advertising : billboards, kiosks, trade shows and events

c) Broadcast  advertising : Television, Radio and Internet

d) Covert  advertising  or in layman’s terms “product placement”: now this is the  advertising  you see in motion pictures-or with sitcoms on TV…this is a unique form of  advertising  that companies do to showcase their product or service.

e) Public Service  advertising : is traditionally reserved for socially relevant messaging, political integrity, poverty, religious or civic events, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations.

f) Celebrity  advertising : of course this is when a famous person is asked to be a spokesperson for your product or service. Today there are growing companies that bank on the power and influence of celebrity  advertising . In most cases, the celebrity lends instant credibility and influences the target customer base positive manner thereby increasing the company’s profitability.

3) The difference between having an  advertising  plan and having an  advertising  strategy is critical. It’s like this…if you want to get from point A to point B that’s your plan. Your strategy is how you’re going to do it. For example if my plan is to drive to Savannah then I have to formulate a strategy on how I’m going to get there…either by car, plane or train etc. Once I determine the how, then I must map out my route…that’s my strategy. Your  advertising  plan consists of what your goal is. For instance, let’s say your plan is to increase sales by 30% and promote your special July 4th sale including half off of everything in stock. Well the  advertising  strategy must include the execution of the plan. If you want to inform your prospective customers about your sale…you’ve got to figure out “the how factor”…how are you going to get that message across? What vehicle will you use? Then you must strategize an effective campaign relaying the pertinent information to the target audience utilizing a creative advertisement to effectively communicate your message. You may decide to combine flyers, TV, radio & internet along with a celebrity endorsement. So the  advertising  plan and  advertising  strategy are very different but function in partnership…because one doesn’t work effectively without the other.

4) The one key word to use in  advertising  The best word in  advertising  is…”FREE” anything free is going to instantly grab attention and make your customer curious to find out what is being offered for free! However, if you’re limited on what you can offer for free…there are other  advertising  techniques you can use…i.e., special offers are nothing more than good old fashioned “bribery” because you hook the customer with the BUY ONE GET ONE OFFER or Buy TWO GET ONE HALF OFF! This technique is very effective because you have given the customer an incentive to spend more!

5) The most important element in effective  advertising  The industry terminology is called “THE CALL-TO-ACTION.” But I like to call it, the WOW Factor or the “Special Sauce.” In today’s society we are spoiled. Most of us want everything now, at our convenience and deeply discounted. Consumers today don’t want to spend too much time or energy looking for a great deal. Most importantly we look for a quality product or service at a great price. Thus, the key for any company or business…is to offer their target audience something unique that’s going to “knock their socks off!” However, you must offer something that will influence the target customer to take action right away! The WOW Factor equals activation! To make sure you get that activation; you must give it the KISS test; KEEP-IT-SWEET & SIMPLE!

2010 © All Rights Reserved Quality Media Consultant Group LLC

Print Advertising Vs Online Advertising

Online  advertising  has experienced such a rapid growth that many well known researchers are already predicting it will run into multiple billions of dollars in the near future. That certainly does not come as surprise as internet users are steadily increasing as well. Besides the increasing number of new users, the old ones are spending more and more time browsing the net. The realization that these numbers can run into staggering amounts is enough to inspire any entrepreneur to expose his business on the web. This situation will certainly have a tremendous effect on traditional print and media  advertising . Print  advertising  versus online  advertising  is a dilemma that many companies are currently faced with.

There are thousands of budding businessmen and women that are internet savvy. Launching their company on the web is a logical step as this lucrative opportunity is simply too good to pass by.  Advertising  trends have clearly shifted from the traditional media to online. With the economy in the downturn situation as it is, research has shown that large companies are seriously cutting down on print  advertising . The online option has proven to be more effective profit wise. The prospects of increased sales and the cost effectiveness of online  advertising  have also given many new hope of prosperity.

This is due to the fact that there are numerous benefits involved when purchasing online. Stressful situations like congested traffic, hunting for a parking space and long queues can be avoided. To top it all it can be done in the comfort and security of your home. There are disadvantages as well. Misleading advertisements that promote inferior products is a huge problem. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to make use of reputed dealers with secure web sites.

While online marketing is on the increase, the power of print  advertising  should certainly not be underestimated. The traditional brochure or flyer can in certain cases be much more effective than their online counterpart. The old methods cannot be written off that easily or entirely for that matter. Postcard and flyer marketing in the targeted neighborhoods can be very rewarding. This is a huge advantage that print  advertising  has over online  advertising . Full-color brochures work wonderfully at meetings and events. There are quite a number of customers that do not have access to the World Wide Web. Sending out brochures to existing ones keeps them in touch with happenings in the business. Another area where it is advisable to use brochures would be on cold calling.

Through print media specific areas of business can receive direct mail and therefore ensure maximum turnover. Marketers can make constructive use of both options to make it work in their favor. Depending on your type of business, careful budget planning that includes all aspects of marketing strategies should be made. In this way you will not lose out and reap the highest benefit of the market. This is after all what marketing success stories are all about; skillful and cost-effective  advertising  campaigns.

Ethics in Advertising

Introduction

Ethics have always been an important aspect of every business activity, although the term has meant different things at different times in different lands to different people. Nonetheless, as ethical concerns are an inseparable element of business, advertising can not ignore them. Sadly, the advertising industry has rarely cared to look beyond immediate marketing objectives. The argument in the industry is that it is the government’s job to judge what is right and what is wrong. Shirking its own responsibility for regulation, the industry has belittled business values and agencies have harmed their balance sheets.

For any business, customer is very important, and businessman attempt to communicate to all their target customers using means of communication like advertising and sales promotion. Advertising is a very powerful and most commonly used tool.

Benefits of advertising

o Communication

The organization has to attract the customer and create a market for its products. For this purpose, advertising is the most powerful and widely used tool for communicating message regarding products/services to a large target audience.

o To raise the standard of living

In our developing economy, adverting with its micro and macro level influences, exerts vast and varied influences that have played key role in raising the standards of physical and material well being of the Indian society.

o To make market competitive

In India, one finds many innovations being introduced which has changed the market structure from seller’s market, and thus the result is more competitive market conditions.

o Product differentiation

It is a fact that advertising brings about products variety through real and psychological product differentiation.

Critical evaluation of advertising

Though many benefits are achieved through advertisements, the ad message is becoming more and more exaggerated. To achieve competitive advantage, advertising magnifies unimportant differences, resorts to clever, tricky product promises, and claims more and more unbelievable benefits. The customer finds many advertisements as false, deceptive, or misleading. Consumers are uncertain regarding whether or not the performance of a product purchased will in fact meet their needs. If they find that the product lacks in quality, advantage, durability etc., as advertised they might not buy it again, and develop an aversion to every other product of that company.

Unethical advertising

Advertisement is considered unethical in the following situations;

o When it has degraded or underestimated the substitute or rival’s product.

o When it gives false or misleading information on the value of the product.

o When it fails to give useful information on the possible reaction or side effects of the product. And

o When it is immoral.

Ways of misleading the consumers

o Many a time, traders entice the customers into their stores by advertising goods at a very low price, but they stock only a handful of such sale items in the store. When the advertised goods are sold out, consumers are steered towards the higher-priced stock or lower quality goods.

Retailers must ensure that reasonable supply of products is available during the sales, and retailers should not purposely avoid it. Retailers should make it clear in the advertisement that how many items on sale are available or when the sale ends.

o Sale offer should be for a limited period. Advertisement should declare that sale offer is for a limited time period. The period of the offer should be made clear in the advertisement only when the advertised goods are available for a limited period or stocks are limited.

o Traders often offer insignificant price reduction. To illustrate, a trader may advertise that the price of product is reduced to Rs.99.95, when the normal selling price is Rs.100.. The trader must include the normal selling price and discounted price in his offer .The trader sale offer is misleading if the trader claims the product is below cost , when the price is not below cost after discounts, rebates and other allowances it is misleading if the trader simply shows a fictitious higher price as normal selling price in the advertisement.

o Advertisement must clearly indicate the total price of goods or services. All price comparison must be truthful and must not intentionally or unintentionally mislead the consumers. Under the Fair Trade Practices Act, retailers have an obligation to ensure that they do not mislead or make false representations to customers with respect to price of the goods. The consumers who shop around and compare the prices of various products are less likely to be deceived by misleading claims consumers should also be aware of what is a reasonable price of goods and not take any advertised discounts at face value.

o While many sales are legitimate or genuine, the consumers should not get attracted to such sales offers i.e., “Hurry…very few days remain for sale”. The consumers should be aware of what to expect when retailers place items on sale and how to avoid being misled by discount advertisements. A marketer should take care to ensure that when goods or services are advertised to be available at a discount or as being on sale, it is a genuine discount or sale.

Remedies to overcome deceptive advertisements

o Cease-and- Desist Orders

The cease-and-desist orders, which prohibit the respondent from engaging any more in deceptive practice, are actually the only formal procedure established by the Federal Trade Commission Act for enforcing the prohibition of ‘ deceptive acts and practices.”

o Restitution

Restitution means the consumer is compensated for any damage caused to him by the product that had advertised claims not adequately substantiated. Restitution is rarely considered because of its severity.

o Affirmative Disclosures

If an advertisement has provided insufficient information to the consumers, an affirmative disclosure might be issued Affirmative disclosure require ‘clear and conspicuous disclosure’ of omitted information. Often the involved information relates to the deficiency or limitations of the product or service possibly relating to matters of health or safety.

o Corrective Advertising

Corrective Advertising requires the advertisers to verify past deception by making suitable amendment in any of its future commercial.

Self Regulation in Advertising

It is our responsibility to regulate our operations. And we must do it ourselves. Self regulation is not a quick-fix solution; it will be completely ineffective with out commitment from and the integrity of one and all. Self Regulation may require the following;

o The development of a self-regulatory code of conduct covering all forms of media that is sensitive to ethics, legalities, decency and truthfulness in advertising.

o Provision for monitoring and accountability, including a policy allowing for the removal of ads that violate the code.

o Greater participation of advertising professionals in the regulatory process.

o The inclusion of non-industry players in the process

o Consumer awareness of the self regulation system.

o Simplification of the complaint process against ads.

o Transparency throughout the entire system.

These reforms will achieve three goals. They will make the industry accountable for its actions. They will make regulators and critics think twice before attacking the industry and finally they will lead the public to trust ads, advertisers and agencies.

Conclusion

Reputable companies and advertising agencies avoid telling lies. They realize the cost of being caught. A dent in trust can prove to be much costlier than the failure of an ad campaign or for that matter, even a brand. The challenge before advertisers and agencies is to ensure that ads reflect our values. We must endeavor to see that “advertising” does not remain a dirty word.

Advertising Effectiveness Trends, a Small Survey

In the day to day running of my business, I am discussing marketing strategies with business owners and marketing managers on a daily basis. If you can earn their trust, then they will be very candid with you, especially if you can help them without trying to sell them something.

What resulted from this were some startling admissions that I did not expect. This had me thinking, it can cost an awful lot, especially for the small to medium business owner, to spend money on good market research. So I wondered what the results would look like after a few months if I were to record the marketing success and failure stories after each visit.

I broke this down into respective industries to give more meaning to the results, and also, if available, lend the reasons to these successes and failures. Now I have decided that three month periods will do for data collection as years of research in marketing becomes outdated by the time it is published in the forever increasing and changing monster that is the modern market place. Always ensure research is current and relevant.

Although some of you may want to see raw data, a summary of my finding is all I am going to share in this article sorry! Please take into account that the sample number is in the hundreds, but certainly not in the thousands. The value of this research comes from the honesty of small to medium sized business owners, and the fact they have usually spent the time to talk about these things in detail.

Here are some general trends that I have found;

o Newspaper and radio advertising return on investment continues to decline rapidly.

o The second most effective form of advertising was word of mouth referrals.

o The most effective form tended to be anything unique, e.g. logo and advertisement placement in unexpected places.

o Advertising on product giveaways tends to have a life span of one week, i.e. a company logo on a free pen typically brings in no new revenue one week after it has been given away.

o Advertising discounts were not as effective at getting people through the door as advertising something new.

o Customer loyalty increased with free giveaways, but not so much with advertised discounts.

o Most business owners were dissatisfied with the follow up frequency of advertising sales reps, i.e. after an initial advertising campaign, contact is not made until after an unacceptable length of time.

To bring relevance to these results, one must take into account that this is a small city (about 122,000) and has a large rural support base in outlying areas. These trends show that a need to provide innovative and well maintained advertising service is apparent in this city. Perhaps this is the same elsewhere.

There were some other interesting facts, but these seven findings had the most valid results statistically. If in the future, some other trends become overwhelmingly evident, then I will revise this article.

New and Cheap Advertising Ideas

When you are in the business world then your major aim is always to surge ahead of your competitors. It is important that your product is of high quality but it is also important to advertise it so that it reaches every household. You can take the example of mobile phone producers. Normally two products have got the same kind of features but the one with higher sales is the one which is well known as compared to the other one. What is being emphasized here is that you need to speak out loud about the product you are offering and that can be done through the proper implementation of  advertising  ideas.  Advertising  is the key to your success in the business.

Generally our conception about the  advertising  is limited to the big banners we see on the roadsides, in the malls and the large scale advertisements in the electronic as well as print media. With the rising popularity of the internet, the pops ups and advertisements on the websites are also now part of the  advertising  industry. For the big business houses these are standard mode of  advertising  but for the smaller businessmen it is a no-no thing because of the higher budgets. There is no need to get disheartened because these are not the only  advertising  ideas or ways to promote your product. Distributing pamphlets, use of salesperson are also the cheap and effective ways of  advertising . One needs to understand that anything that will make sure that the customer gets to know about your product is a way of  advertising .

To name a few of the cheap and better  advertising  ideas you can count on distributing the pamphlets and flyers in the areas that are in your reach. Through these flyers you can also distribute the discount coupons. These coupons will get the people discussing your product and the contemporary wisdom says that the word of mouth is still the best way to go about the  advertising .

In modern times internet has become such a powerful medium that you can achieve unbelievable results with its reach. You can make a website detailing your product or service. Along with this also make use of the various social networking websites like Facebook, orkut etc. by dedicating a page on them to your product. If you can further spend a little more time you can also make a monthly newsletter relating to your product and send a mass email to the people. In the newsletter make sure that you detail all the good things about your product and also offer some good discounts. This is sure to set some of the tongues waging.

Make yourself a regular member of the business sittings in your locality. Discuss about your product with other people. They might give you some nice  advertising  ideas. The more you keep your eyes and ears open the more you are bound to gain. Project yourself as the key player in the niche of your product and make sure that your product as though it is the only viable option available in the market. These  advertising  ideas are sure to make your project a hit in the market.

Advertising Humor – Smart Advertising Choice?

The big sin in advertising and marketing is being boring. A market will forgive almost anything else. But a boring sales letter, commercial, or video will generate absolutely no interest in your product. The advertisement must be interesting to the prospect. Not interesting in general, but to that prospect.

Most small business advertisers who are putting together an ad, think of trying to be funny as their first priority. This is because many think of advertising as a form of entertainment. Advertising isn’t entertainment, it is selling. Making someone laugh when they see your ad, may make you feel better, and it feels like the ad should be working, but this isn’t the case.

You do not want to hear “Wow, I saw your ad. How clever (or how funny).” You want people to see your ad and then want to buy the product it is showcasing.

Is humor ever effective in your advertising? Sure. A viral video should be either very funny or very shocking. This will cause the video to be spread to all corners of the internet. You may even make some sales off of that video. Humor also has a place in advertising because to tends to stick in the mind of the consumer. Humor in advertising makes the company seem a little more “cool” because if the humor. But the humor should never get in the way of the appeal of the ad, which is to make someone want to buy the product advertised.

Advertisers should always put Selling first in their ads. After there is a strong appeal in the ad, then you can think of ways to say it in a funnier way. But never let humor get in the way of the selling.

Here is the danger of using humor in your ads. Some people may simply not get the joke. If they don’t get the joke, the ad will actually irritate them, because they won’t understand your point.

You may actually offend a few people. The humor, if really funny will direct the consumer’s attention to how funny the ad is, not how great your product is.

A funny and dramatic demonstration of your product, that really drives home a buying benefit, is useful because now they are talking about the demonstration, which is the same as talking about your product. See? You want them taking about your product, not the commercial.

What is almost universally useful in your broadcast ads, is smiling, friendly faces. They don’t have to be funny, but just happy. The prospect assumes they are happy because they are using the product. In print, it’s harder to be funny anyway, so you are trying harder to be funny, which doesn’t translate well to print. In print, ads should always try to sell, not be funny.

You can be interesting without going for a laugh. Do you know what prospective customers find interesting? Anything that will make their life easier, or will solve a problem that is bothering them. That’s what they find interesting. And not being interesting is the major sin in advertising.

Do you see the title of this article? Originally it was going to be Advertising Humor: It’s No Joke. Do you know why I changed it? Even though it is a semi-clever play on words, it wouldn’t make you want to read the article as much as the title I used. See the difference?

Online Advertising

 Advertising  has moved much beyond the levels of print and point of contact  advertising . Today one of the world’s most effective  advertising  techniques is online  advertising . With the unparalleled rise in the World Wide Web, not only has it become one of the most targeted sections of  advertising , but at the same time it is also the most cost effective  advertising  process in the world.

Categories of online  advertising  could include such systems as banner ads, email marketing,  advertising  networks, online classified  advertising  and many other techniques. The procedures are simple, they are quick and the results are easily visible.

The greatest benefit of online  advertising  is that it knows no time and space boundaries. It is visible to anyone at anytime and geographical boundaries are no longer applicable. Another great advantage is that they can be targeted to specific groups or a relevant audience. Certain keywords will bring up the advertisements on the requisite pages, thus ensuring that you catch the eyeballs of people who are looking for similar content.

Google, due to its commanding position in the search engine world, is used as the benchmark for all  advertising  techniques and marketing strategies. If a company manages to do well with its Google  advertising , then it is guaranteed that the same techniques will achieve good results on other search engines also.

Google’s AdWords is one of the most basic systems of  advertising  on their search network. The AdWords reach only interested customers, since the ads pop-up only on relevant search pages. You can also reduce  advertising  costs tremendously since these are not very high priced ads. You can also alter them as and when needed, and judging from the evaluation charts you can make informed marketing decisions.

Online  advertising , especially banner  advertising  or ads on various sites should not be judged on the basis of the number of click throughs. An advertisement’s efficacy cannot be calculated according to the instantaneous results it generates. There is a great deal of recall value attached to ads, and similar to print media or TV advertisements, the results normally become evident only later. However what is essential is the placing of the advertisement, since the significance of the page it appears on is what determines the focus of the ad.

Over 13.6 billion searches take place in one month in the US alone. Out of these 9 billion of those searches are on Google. Hence the importance of Google as the main  advertising  destination cannot be underplayed. Every SEM company worth its salt will target Google searches for optimization, and online  advertising  companies will target their ads towards the 9 billion searches every month. Thus Google promotion packages are an inherent segment of every  advertising  strategy. These include not only  advertising  on Google search engines, using the specialized techniques developed by Google, but also  advertising  on other classified advertisement networks and directory listing sites which are ranked high on the search engine lists.

Online  Advertising  includes search engine marketing with Google AdWords, Yahoo SM and Microsoft Adcenter; it also includes buying banners from CPM ad networks as well as social media marketing.

Strategic Advertising for Real Estate Agents

“99% of  advertising  doesn’t sell a thing.”

Sounds like something a local real estate agent might say after paying for yet another ad that didn’t produce, right?

You might be surprised to learn that the quote actually belongs to David Ogilvy, legendary founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful  advertising  agencies.

Yikes – if a man regarded as a giant in the ad industry is so negative about  advertising’s  success rate, how should you feel?

The Bad News is the Good News…

There is an upside here. If so much of the  advertising  in your local market is ineffective, you can gain a significant edge on your competition by having a better local  advertising  strategy than other agents.

 Advertising  vs.  Advertising  Strategy

Notice that I said a better  advertising  STRATEGY, not simply better  advertising . There’s a big difference.

A better ad might get you a few more leads in the short term. A better  advertising  strategy can help you to have a consistent, meaningful message in your  advertising , and will position you to get more business from your local market on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you define your  advertising  strategy, and put it into action:

1) Have a Strategic Objective In Mind BEFORE you Advertise

 Advertising  for the sake of “building awareness” is probably the fastest way to flush your  advertising  dollars away.

Before you even think about buying an ad, you must have a strategic objective in mind – after all, why should you pay for any type of ad unless it helps you to reach your objective.

Here are just a few questions that you might ask yourself before placing an ad to help define what you want your  advertising  strategy to do for you:

– If I could be known for just one thing in my local market, what would it be?

– Which part of the local real estate market is not currently well serviced by other agents? Is there potential in this neighborhood/age group/demographic profile?

– Which part of the local market is emerging and might be a driving force for sales in future years?

– What’s changing in my market right now – immigration, aging population, young families moving in, etc – and how do I capitalize on the change more effectively than my competitors?

If you can answer even some of these questions, you will probably be on your way to identifying the basis for an  advertising  strategy.

For example, you may determine that based on trends and current prices, your market will become increasingly popular with first time homebuyers. As a result, your strategic objective may be to use your  advertising  to become recognized as the local expert in serving first time homebuyers.

2) Have a Specific Objective for Each Ad you Place within your Strategy

With a clear objective as part of your  advertising  strategy, you can now think about investing in ads that support your objective.

Here’s a tip – you can create  advertising  that generates an immediate response while also serving to build your brand in a particular market.

Continuing with the above example, if you ran a series of ads in the local newspaper offering a free “First-Time Homebuyers Report” available from your website, you would actually be running a direct response ad (aimed at getting people to download the report) that also delivered a brand building message (the message being that you are the agent for first time homebuyers to call because you are the expert in that field).

You can measure the success of the ad by looking at the number of downloads from your site while the ad was running – since generating downloads was the specific objective of the ad. If the ads don’t generate enough downloads to justify the cost, pull them or change them. Ads are only valuable if they get you closer to achieving your strategic objective.

3) Be Consistent

All of your  advertising  (online, print, directory, flyers, etc) should be similar in both style and substance within your  advertising  strategy.

Yes, a consistent look and style for your ads is important to help you get recognized in a competitive market.

But even more important is being consistent when it comes to the messages in your ads. You can’t buy a Yellow Pages ad that promotes you as the leader in client service, and then advertise your “low low price” in the local newspaper, and then distribute flyers that try to promote you as the family real estate expert.

Your messages can’t conflict! Again, here’s where an  advertising  strategy comes in. With a strategic objective in mind for your  advertising , you will be able to focus your  advertising  dollars on communicating a single, clear message to potential clients about why they should call you.

An  Advertising  Strategy is Critical to your Success

If Mr. Ogilvy was right, then most of the advertisers out there in your real estate market are getting it wrong. This creates a huge opportunity for you to use an  advertising  strategy to drive business and outdo your competitors.

– Have a Strategic Objective for all of your  Advertising  – Know what you want to say about your business, and who you want to say it to within your local market.

– Have an Objective for Each Ad – Measure each ad’s results against the strategic objective you are trying to achieve – if you don’t, how will you know if the ads were successful or not?

– Be Consistent – Make sure all of your ads are focused on helping you reach your strategic objective by communicating a clear message to the market.

 Advertising  can be a tough game, but so can real estate. And in both cases, those with a well thought out strategy will almost always succeed over those that don’t have a plan.

The Top Five Secrets To Advertising Strategies – Starting With Your First Ad

Today, most advertising strategies focus on achieving three general goals, as the Small Business Administration indicated in Advertising Your Business:

1) promote awareness of a business and its product or services;

2) stimulate sales directly and “attract competitors’ customers”; and

3) establish or modify a business’ image. In other words, advertising seeks to inform, persuade, and remind the consumer. With these aims in mind, most businesses follow a general process which ties advertising into the other promotional efforts and overall marketing objectives of the business.

An advertising strategy is a campaign developed to communicate ideas about products and services to potential consumers in the hopes of convincing them to buy those products and services. This strategy, when built in a rational and intelligent manner, will reflect other business considerations (overall budget, brand recognition efforts) and objectives (public image enhancement, market share growth) as well. Even though a small business has limited capital and is unable to devote as much money to advertising as a large corporation, it can still develop a highly effective advertising campaign. The key is creative and flexible planning, based on an in-depth knowledge of the target consumer and the avenues that can be utilized to reach that consumer.

STAGES OF ADVERTISING STRATEGY

As a business begins, one of the major goals of advertising must be to generate awareness of the business and its products. Once the business’ reputation is established and its products are positioned within the market, the amount of resources used for advertising will decrease as the consumer develops a kind of loyalty to the product. Ideally, this established and ever-growing consumer base will eventually aid the company in its efforts to carry their advertising message out into the market, both through its purchasing actions and its testimonials on behalf of the product or service.

Essential to this rather abstract process is the development of a “positioning statement, a positioning statement explains how a company’s product (or service) is differentiated from those of key competitors. With this statement, the business owner turns intellectual objectives into concrete plans. In addition, this statement acts as the foundation for the development of a selling proposal, which is composed of the elements that will make up the advertising message’s “copy platform.” This platform delineates the images, copy, and art work that the business owner believes will sell the product.

With these concrete objectives, the following elements of the advertising strategy need to be considered: target audience, product concept, communication media, and advertising message. These elements are at the core of an advertising strategy, and are often referred to as the “creative mix.” Again, what most advertisers stress from the beginning is clear planning and flexibility. And key to these aims is creativity, and the ability to adapt to new market trends. A rigid advertising strategy often leads to a loss of market share. Therefore, the core elements of the advertising strategy need to mix in a way that allows the message to envelope the target consumer, providing ample opportunity for this consumer to become acquainted with the advertising message.

1. TARGET CONSUMER The target consumer is a complex combination of persons. It includes the person who ultimately buys the product, as well as those who decide what product will be bought (but don’t physically buy it), and those who influence product purchases, such as children, spouse, and friends. In order to identify the target consumer, and the forces acting upon any purchasing decision, it is important to define three general criteria in relation to that consumer, as discussed by the Small Business Administration:

1. Demographics-Age, gender, job, income, ethnicity, and hobbies.

2. Behaviors-When considering the consumers’ behavior an advertiser needs to examine the consumers’ awareness of the business and its competition, the type of vendors and services the consumer currently uses, and the types of appeals that are likely to convince the consumer to give the advertiser’s product or service a chance.

3. Needs and Desires-here an advertiser must determine the consumer needs-both in practical terms and in terms of self-image, etc.-and the kind of pitch/message that will convince the consumer that the advertiser’s services or products can fulfill those needs.

2. PRODUCT CONCEPT The product concept grows out of the guidelines established in the “positioning statement.” How the product is positioned within the market will dictate the kind of values the product represents, and thus how the target consumer will receive that product. Therefore, it is important to remember that no product is just itself, but, a “bundle of values” that the consumer needs to be able to identify with. Whether couched in presentations that emphasize sex, humor, romance, science, masculinity, or femininity, the consumer must be able to believe in the product’s representation.

3. COMMUNICATION MEDIA The communication media is the means by which the advertising message is transmitted to the consumer. In addition to marketing objectives and budgetary restraints, the characteristics of the target consumer need to be considered as an advertiser decides what media to use. The types of media categories from which advertisers can choose include the following:

o Print-primarily newspapers (both weekly and daily) and magazines.

o Audio-FM and AM radio.

o Video-Promotional videos, infomercials.

o World Wide Web.

o Direct mail.

o Outdoor advertising-Billboards, advertisements on public transportation (cabs, buses).

After deciding on the medium that is 1) financially in reach, and 2) most likely to reach the target audience, an advertiser needs to schedule the broadcasting of that advertising. The media schedule, as defined by Hills, is “the combination of specific times (for example, by day, week, and month) when advertisements are inserted into media vehicles and delivered to target audiences.”

4. ADVERTISING MESSAGE An advertising message is guided by the “advertising or copy platform,” which is a combination of the marketing objectives, copy, art, and production values. This combination is best realized after the target consumer has been analyzed, the product concept has been established, and the media and vehicles have been chosen. At this point, the advertising message can be directed at a very concrete audience to achieve very specific goals. There are three major areas that an advertiser should consider when endeavoring to develop an effective “advertising platform”:

o What are the product’s unique features?

o How do consumers evaluate the product? What is likely to persuade them to purchase the product?

o How do competitors rank in the eyes of the consumer? Are there any weaknesses in their positions? What are their strengths?

Most business consultants recommend employing an advertising agency to create the art work and write the copy. However, many small businesses don’t have the up-front capital to hire such an agency, and therefore need to create their own advertising pieces. When doing this a business owner needs to follow a few important guidelines.

5. COPY When composing advertising copy it is crucial to remember that the primary aim is to communicate information about the business and its products and services. The “selling proposal” can act as a blueprint here, ensuring that the advertising fits the overall marketing objectives. Many companies utilize a theme or a slogan as the centerpiece of such efforts, emphasizing major attributes of the business’s products or services in the process. While something must be used to animate the theme …care must be taken not to lose the underlying message in the pursuit of memorable advertising.”

When writing the copy, direct language (saying exactly what you mean in a positive, rather than negative manner) has been shown to be the most effective. The theory here is that the less the audience has to interpret, or unravel the message, the easier the message will be to read, understand, and act upon. As Jerry Fisher observed in Entrepreneur, “Two-syllable phrases like ‘free book,’ ‘fast help,’ and ‘lose weight’ are the kind of advertising messages that don’t need to be read to be effective. By that I mean they are so easy for the brain to interpret as a whole thought that they’re ‘read’ in an eye blink rather than as linear verbiage. So for an advertiser trying to get attention in a world awash in advertising images, it makes sense to try this message-in-an-eye-blink route to the public consciousness-be it for a sales slogan or even a product name.”

The copy content needs to be clearly written, following conventional grammatical guidelines. Of course, effective headings allow the reader to get a sense of the advertisement’s central theme without having to read much of the copy. An advertisement that has “50% off” in bold black letters is not just easy to read, but it is also easy to understand.

Pixel Advertising: Fad or Trend?

Pixel  advertising  is an innovative marketing concept introduced by 22-year-old Alex Tew that allows advertisers to buy  advertising  space on a per-pixel cost basis. The more pixels an advertiser buys, the larger their ad and the greater the chance that it will be clicked on. Selling one million pixels at $1 each, Alex’s Million Dollar Homepage has created quite a buzz in the news media and has easily reached its $1 million target.

Thanks to the stunning success of Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (MDHP), pixel ad sites have mushroomed all over the net. There are even commercial scripts that you can buy that will allow you to set up your own million-dollar homepage in less than 15 minutes. However, this does not mean you’ll make a million dollars…or even a thousand dollars…or even the cost of the script.

Alex Tew’s pixel  advertising  concept was simple, so simple that it eventually led many people to pound their heads on the wall repeating to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of this first?” But his idea was also novel and original. And because of its novelty it commanded a lot of attention (and free publicity) from the media.

Needless to say, no news organization will rush to report about a second million-dollar homepage, let alone one set up in 15 minutes with a purchased script. This is not to say, however, that there is no room in cyberspace for the second or third or even thousandth MDHP. In fact, there are presently at least a thousand MDHP clones hoping to capitalize on the pixel  advertising  craze. Many of them have managed to make a lot of money despite not being the original.

Some people view MDHP clones as little more than shameless imitations trying to leech off Tew’s original concept. This would be the case if his idea, while fun and original, has little use beyond his website.

On the contrary, the clones have proved quite the opposite. Their successes have demonstrated that Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage was worth much more than $1 million. Moreover, they have lend legitimacy to the concept of pixel .

While the original MDHP has made “internet history” (in Tew’s words) by achieving its $1 million goal, it is unlikely to become anything more than just a blip in internet history if the concept is not adopted and refined by others. In fact, most MDHP clones have achieved their riches not by ripping off Tew’s site verbatim, but by borrowing his pixel  advertising  concept and finding creative uses for it.

Far from being just a fad, pixel  advertising  holds an enormous promise as an alternative, cost-effective channel for online  advertising . But the concept is still in its infancy, and to avoid becoming internet history, it has to evolve. An important aspect of this evolution is how limitations inherent in the concept itself and in how pixel  advertising  is being used are addressed.

Perhaps the most obvious argument against pixel  advertising  is that its current use is largely limited to websites with seemingly useless clutters of ads with no content whatsoever. At best these sites offer advertisers little more than a source of non-targeted traffic.

An obvious solution to this is to incorporate pixel  advertising  into content-rich sites. Instead of selling pixel  advertising  exclusively through a site with nothing but a giant grid of picture ads, banner-sized pixel grids may be incorporated into a site with real content. A good example of this application is the relatively small and unobtrusive pixel panel placed on http://www.ezclassifieds.org/. Since most people go to ezClassifieds.org to post and look at ads, the site is an ideal place to offer pixel  advertising  to visitors. Obviously, incorporating pixel ads into content sites involves a lot more work than installing a ready-made script on a new domain. It involves developing a content-rich site and *then* offering pixel ads as an alternative to text links and traditional banner ads.

Used in this way, pixel ads are at the very least superior to traditional banner ads. Unlike traditional banners, a pixel banner may contain ads for several advertisers. Plus, pixel ads are not confined to predetermined shapes and sizes. Many pixel ad scripts will automatically resize images submitted by advertisers, eliminating the need to edit them to conform to the publisher’s requirements. Purchasing pixel ads is usually painless and often fully automated. Since most people have grown accustomed to ignore banner ads, pixel ads are likely to generate higher click-through rates.

Copyright 2006 Oudam Em