Advertising is essential for any successful business - but only if it is done effectively. Although it takes time and money to create, a good advertising campaign will bring in more money than any other single action your business undertakes, by familiarizing more people with your product or service, increasing sales and fostering brand loyalty. There are many things to consider when it comes to advertising, but it's also a fun process which gives your business a chance to show its creative side! This article will provide some basic guidelines on how to effectively advertise your business.
1. Know your audience.
The single most important thing when it comes to effective advertising is to know your audience. Think about it. The ad that appeals to retired men is very different from an ad designed for teenage girls.
If you are not in tune with your audience, you will be unable to create an advertisement that resonates with them in any way and your product/service will go unnoticed by a huge proportion of your key market. Be smart with your advertising and tailor it specifically for your audience. Otherwise you will be throwing away money.
The key demographics that you need to consider are gender and age range. With gender, your target market can be classified into male, female and adult (when the number of males and females are fairly even). In terms of age range, your customers may fall into one or more standardized age brackets used within the industry. These are as follows: 12-24, 18-34, 18-49, 25-54, or 50+.
Be aware that your customer base may shift over time as a result of external factors such as the opening or closing of similar businesses, and the changing age demographics of your local community. It is important to be aware of these changes, as your advertising needs will change with them.
2. Decide on a target location.
Once you have identified your audience, the next step is to ensure that your advertisements are properly placed to reach that audience.
Your ad may be perfectly calibrated to appeal to your target market, but if the location is wrong, your audience might never get a chance to see it/hear it. For example, a radio ad for denture adhesive may not work well on a top 40 music station, while an ad for teen-targeted haircare products might not be ideal in a newspaper.
Think about where your target audience is most likely to see the ad, don't make decisions based on your own personal preference. Don't advertise on the radio just because you listen to the radio, and don't jump on the internet bandwagon just because it's the fashionable thing to do. Do your research and make your decision based on your customers and your customers alone.
Remember that no one type of advertising is more effective than the other -- as evidenced by the fact that newspapers advertise on billboards, magazines advertise on television and radio stations advertise on the internet. What matters is that the medium you choose reaches your potential customers.
Using this strategy also provides more bang for your buck, as placing your ads in locations where you know that your audience will see them eliminates the necessity to advertise everywhere and simply hope that the right people will see it. This is where being in tune with your target audience really makes a difference.
3. Draw up a budget.
Of course, your budget will play a huge role in the quality and distribution of your ad. Very few businesses (aside from monster corporations) will have an unlimited budget for their advertising campaigns, so it is important that you think strategically about your ads and plan carefully in order to get the most from your money.
If you're feeling reluctant about spending your money on advertising, remember that advertising is essential for any successful business -- you might provide the greatest product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it you'll never make any money.
Nothing will help your business grow like a well-designed, appropriately-targeted ad, so pour as much money as you can afford into your advertising campaign -- think of it like an investment; the initial cost may be high, but the rich returns (in terms of new customers and potential sales) will more than make up for it. When it comes to advertising, you have to spend money to make money.
However, this only holds true for good advertising campaigns. Bad advertising campaigns will sink money like nothing else, and you will have nothing to show for your investment. This is why it is vital that you do your research and invest time into producing a great ad.
4. Establish a company image.
One of the major aims of advertising is to create brand recognition among potential customers. This is because market research has shown again and again that consumers are far more likely to choose products and services they are familiar with, than lesser-known, generic alternatives.
Therefore, when creating an advertisement for your business, product or service, you should try to come up with a simple yet eye-catching image which customers will recognize instantly.
When you think about a company's image, you think about the look and feel of their advertisements. Depending on the type of ad, this includes things like the colors used, the font, the photographs, the music or the spokespeople/celebrities used to represent them.
Part of creating a great image is coming up with a recognizable logo, slogan or jingle which customers instantly associate with your brand. Think about the McDonald's arches, the Budweiser Clydesdales, or L'Oreal's "you're worth it" catchphrase. These things have become synonymous with the companies who created them, which is why they are advertising gold.
Not only is it important to come up with a great image, but it is important to be consistent with that image. All of your advertisements should have the same look and feel, regardless of the medium.
If you are constantly experimenting and shifting between different images, you will confuse consumers and limit your business's potential for building brand loyalty. Come up with one unique, easily-identifiable images and stick with it.
5. Think about your message.
The message your ad sends can make or break the entire campaign. A good ad will hook potential customers from the get-go and hold their attention just long enough for the company to make their pitch and convince consumers to choose their company's product over the competitors.
Highlight your competitive advantage. Make sure that the message of your advertisement draws attention to the benefits of buying your product or service over those of your competitors. Too many ads focus on being visually appealing, humorous or clever, yet fail to put forward a convincing argument as to why their product or service is the best.
Avoid advertising cliches. You need your ad to be unique -- if it looks or sounds exactly like a hundred other ads that have come before it, the consumer's attention will immediately switch off and you'll lose another potential sale. Therefore, you should avoid overdone advertising cliches like highlighting sales prices that end in 99 or 95 cents, using phrases like "for a limited time only" or "world famous" or using content that has absolutely nothing to do with the product you're selling.
6. Don't try to please everybody.
In order to please everybody, the message of your ad would need to be pretty bland and non-committal, and this approach rarely works out. Again, think about your target demographic and use your ad to send a message that appeals specifically to them.
The message of the advertisement should appeal to the consumer on a personal level - it can do this in two main ways: by playing on emotional concerns and speaking to the customer's heart, or by entertaining the customer with something that appeals to their sense of humor.
As an example, think about the Axe advertising campaigns, which aim to sell body sprays, shower gels and hair care products to young men. This brand is so successful because it sends a message perfectly tailored to the desires of its target market - "wear our products and you'll get all the hot girls". Axe don't care that their products aren't appealing to women or married men, because they've got the market on 12 to 24 year old males cornered.
Another, very different example of emotionally-targeted advertising is ads for cleaning products which play on the fears of mothers (and fathers) of very young children and babies. These ads focus on their product's ability to keep families "safe" from dangerous germs and bacteria. The underlying message is that if you're a good parent who cares about keeping your children safe and healthy, you will buy this cleaning product.
This type of advertising, though somewhat manipulative, can be very effective for its target market. However, people without kids, or pretty much anyone under the age of 20, will not be so convinced. This is a trade-off you need to be willing to make.
7. Test your ad before release.
Before you send your advertisements out into the world, it is a good idea to test them to make sure they are understood and appreciated by your target audience.
Although it takes time and money, getting a focus group together where you can get feedback on your ad is highly beneficial. You can ask members of your key customer base questions about the ad - whether they enjoyed it, whether it spoke to them, what they liked about it and what they disliked.
This can help you to decide whether the ad is ready for release, if it needs some tweaking, or if you need to go back to the drawing board altogether. Another way you can gain feedback on your ads is through questionnaires.
Even following the ad's release, you should make an effort to monitor customer reactions to it. This doesn't need to be difficult - all you need to do is ask any new customers or clients where they heard about you. If they mention your advertisement, you'll know it's working.
You can then ask more specific questions about what they liked about the ad and which elements really caught their attention. If they have any criticisms, try to view them as constructive and consider implementing customer suggestions when putting your next ad together.
If you ran your advertisement through several different types of media, asking for customer feedback can also help you to understand which form (print, television, internet) is most profitable for your company. Then you can allocate more of your budget to it next time round.