I bet you didn't know that there are multiple levels of advertising and promotion that correspond to intent and stage of business. Understanding these levels helps small businesses tailor their promotions and ads to the proper purpose thus making more money. Let's look a little closer...Stage 1 - AwarenessHey mom look at me! Cries the little child who wants attention. One of the biggest threats to small business is the fact that there may be thousands of people out there who need what they offer - but don't know they exist.This stage works on the "if you build it they will come" principle. It's good if you don't have much competition, or if you are an established brand opening a new location.This is the most basic form of advertising and it has its uses. Unfortunately most small businesses never move past this level.Stage 2 - Gain Market ShareThis is a very important stage of promotion an advertising. This is where you put your unique selling proposition out there so that people will choose you over a competitor. You have to be compelling in a way your competitors aren't.Most advertising (even from a lot of the big guys) just doesn't go this far. Your job here is to compel action from the customer.Stage 3 - Increase ConsumptionGaining new customers is very important, but what are you doing to bring your old customers back? What kind of advertising or promotional tactics will increase the frequency and the size of your average purchase.Advertising to your current customers is not a waste of money. In fact your ROI is likely to be far higher than advertising to get new customers.Think about ways to get customers to come back more frequently and spend more with you when they do. You can realize an exponential growth in sales if you get these two components down.Stage 4 - Capitalize on OpportunityThis stage is where you use opportunities to increase sales. What kind of opportunities? How about holiday sales, long weekends, current events?Be careful about using very bad news for promotion. Being seen as too mercenary can come back to haunt you. There were some companies that sold terrorist insurance after 911 - but I can't imagine any did well.However, offering deals to offset rising gas prices or beat the heat of summer deals can be great was to promote all kinds of things.You can boil these four stages down into finer points of distinction, but mastering just these basics will give you a head start for a more profitable future.
There is no denying the fact that the success of an advertisement lies mostly in the headline. The headline should attract the reader and make him read the rest of the advertisement. The headline should be simply catchy and various key points should be embedded when deciding on the headline for the ad. The headline should catch attention of the eye at the first glance. Words in headlines should act as tags for the advertisement. It should say it all about the content that follows. If a company is selling reasonably priced furniture, the headline of their advertisement should be Durable furniture for less price. This headline will attract the right customers who are on a look out for durable furniture as well as low cost furniture. If the customers to be reached belong to a category that are interested in decorating their house with beautiful furniture and arent concerned about the price to get the right look, then the headline can be Change how your house looks by our oriental furniture. Anything other than the prospects should not be included in the headline. If both men and women can use a product, both of them should be referred to in the title, missing out even one of the category is like losing a huge number of potential customers. The title should be instant product seller. According to a research, five times more readers read just the headline when compared to those who read the complete advertisement. So the investment is of no use, if the title isnt good enough to sell the product. There can be a possibility that the content of the ad isnt strong enough. All the harm can be undone by having a powerful headline. The headline should be centered on the product and not the company that is selling the product. The customers interest should be reflected and he should feel that he is directly addressed. Start with you and not we. So if the client specified on mentioning the companys name, dont start the sentence with it. For example, instead of writing Tylenol solution for sever cold , write Got sever cold? Try Tylenol. Never forget to mention the name of the product in the headline. The product name should be of top priority. A snapshot of the benefits of the product should be given in the headline. This is an important quality of a well-phrased headline. The customers look out for advantages when he thinks of buying a product. Keywords like whiter teeth, nutritious cereals, or miraculous growth should be incorporated in the title. If inculcating all these factors have made the headline long, it should be remembered to write the product advantages in bold. If a visual is placed in the advertisement, it will be a good complement. As a picture speak thousand words. But care should be taken that the headline should say some part of the story and the visual should say the rest. Dont repeat the headline or the picture. Too much of cleverness should not be applied to design a headline. There are nearly five hundred advertisements in a local newspaper on weekends. A regular reader reads the headings of all of them. He will be able to classify between a false heading and a genuine heading. No false promises or information should be included in the headline. Over smart headlines are good for award competitions, but dont really work with the savvy customers. The headline should give out a positive feeling to the reader. Negativity should be totally excluded as it not only creates a negative impression but the mind will also be not receptive friendly. It sometimes confuses the mind and it interprets a negative meaning of the message being delivered. Confidence should be reflected in the headline. Dont include any doubtful words like if and but. Conditional phrases are a strict no. The sentence should be in present tense, instead of past or future.
Multi-national corporate giants, successful entrepreneurial companies, and all other major conglomerates have one thing in common. No, it is not money, though this is something they all seem to have abundance of. It is something that you will find if you trace the roots of the business back to its origins. It all started with one individual who know how to sell him/herself. Anyone can sell a product. Its very simple. What you get is what you see. The prospective buyer can look at it, touch it, compare it to other similar products, and buy it if he/she so chooses. The seller simply talks about it to the customer. A service works the same way. The salesperson makes a presentation, states the pros of the service, what it can do for the consumer, and makes the sale. Selling yourself however, is a little more involved. No two people are identical in every aspect, so no one really knows what to expect from them. You cannot sell by appearance. At the same time, you cannot sell yourself by experience either. Oh, that will get you a bite, but it will not hook the fish. One might stretch the truth a bit about their experience, and the buyer will know that. So how does one sell him/herself successfully? There are several different methods when utilized simultaneously will produce very positive results.1)First impressions: First impressions do matter. Actually, this is the most important part of the whole process of establishing a positive relationship. Regardless if your meeting is via email, online messenger, or in person, that first two minutes of your confrontation will be the most helpful or harmful. Make that initial contact work! Do not kiss up, be professional, and be courteous. Act interested in this person in regards to whatever subject they are most fascinated with. Make it about them, not you. People want to be impressive. If you act impressed, but not childish, they will respond positively.2)Your Client has Priority: You may have two thousand clients and you may only have five or six. Regardless, whatever individual you are dealing with at any given moment needs to feel like they are your most important client. 3)One Hundred and Ten Percent: Of course, there is no such concept. You can only give one hundred percent, as that is all there is. However, you can give one hundred percent of what the individual is paying for and then give ten percent for free. If you are, for example, offering to submit ten websites to a search engine for a client for a fee, do so. Then, submit an extra one for free, just because you care. This brings us to the next topic.4)CARE! If you are in a business where you are only interested in making money and have no regard for the quality of your work or the welfare of the client, then your business is inevitably doomed for failure. You have to want your client to grow, to excel in his or her own business, for yours to grow. Remember, word of mouth is one of the best, and most damaging, forms of marketing. If you get a reputation for poor quality work, again you are headed for failure.5)Availability: Try to be available to the customer at least a minimum of 8 hours per day, and even in the evenings if possible. People want to know that they can reach you at a moments notice without having a long wait. Waiting makes people irritable and stressed. This, in turn, puts a lot of stress on a professional relationship.6)Be Personal: You will get more business out of friends than you will from business associates. The remedy for this issue is to make the business associates your friends. Do not be overwhelmingly intrusive and ask all sorts of questions at your initial contact. However, if the associate mentions an aspect of his life, such as his favorite food, drink, existence of children, etc, make a mental note. Let us take children for example. Lets say your associate mentions that he has to leave early to take his daughter to the doctor for a cough. Take note of that and next time you speak with them, ask about the daughters health. Is she okay? Then, associate your life with theirs. Something like, Shes going to be okay? That is great. I know what you are going through. My daughter just got over a stomach virus. You get to know them and they get to know you. Eventually, a relationship is formed and your business benefits.7)Take Notes: Nothing will sell you better than the sudden realization that you have noticed your associates life. If you find out that your associate has a birthday coming up, send a card and a small gift, such as a box of chocolates, a beautiful pen, etc. If their child has a recital or a game in the near future, send a good luck card. Do not go too far and show up at the game; just let them know that you care enough to send a card. If it is special enough for your client to mention, then it should be special to you. Keep up with birthdays, favorite flowers, favorite drinks, television shows, and anything else that your associate is interested in. If an aspiring businessperson can realize that they are the true product, learn the ins and outs of making themselves invaluable, then the actual product or service will be a successful sell.
Here is an advertising design idea that will challenge you to make imaginative ads rather than boring ones. I call it the "Photo ID Design Model" and it is a very useful device if you create advertising for your company or organization. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create a striking ad, banner or poster. And it will almost always give you a result that gets noticed.** Consider the photo idThink about a "photo id" for a minute. Its most dominant feature is the photograph. The other elements on the card "support" the photo -- the person's name, address, or ID number. These things are not necessarily less important than the photo. But the photo is clearly the main element. It is what the photo id is "about", and that is clearly reflected in the graphic design of the card.If you are not used to thinking of graphic design as related to function, this may seem like an overstatement -- "Hey, it's just a card with a picture on it." But think about it for a minute. A photo id has the specific job of identifying a person. That makes the photo the most important element on the card. So it stands to reason that the photo should be given the most attention.** Make the photo the dominant elementWhen you apply the photo id model to a print ad, poster, billboard, banner design, or even a TV ad the result is usually pretty straightforward. You assume the dominant element in the piece will be the image -- the photograph. And you also assume the photograph will be the main "identifier" the thing that defines the look and even the content or theme of the piece. For instance, you find a photo of a cool looking guy wearing sun glasses. And that image fits the message you are trying to convey in your ad.Serious "advertising design" ers may object that this turns the usual communication process upside down. They might say, "You should always start with your selling message, and find elements that illustrate that message." For instance, if you want to sell "pet care" products, you should begin with the theme you want to communicate, and then find elements that illustrate that theme. Say your theme is something like "Our pet care products make happy pets." This theme would then suggest various ideas for photographs and headlines.Of course this is nice in theory, but in actual fact, advertising is rarely that straightforward. In reality what usually happens is that you start out with a fairly specific idea ("Our pet care products make happy pets.") As you try to develop it you realize it doesn't quite work or you can't find the photograph you had in mind. Then as you're leafing through the pile of available "pet care" photos you see one that evokes an interesting response. So you modify your original concept to fit the available photograph.In other words, the photograph has become the "organizing theme" for the ad. If you still think this distorts or perverts the communication process, think about all those cleavage pictures on the front of women's magazines. The cover designer knows that cleavage sells magazines. So the photo is the starting point. The rest follows.** Elements of the Photo ID ModelOf course there are no rules about what elements your banner or poster should include, but generally they should be as follows:1. Product photo or photo collage2. Main Headline3. Product Description or sales pitch4. Company Identifier (Logo, address, etc.)Anything more than this will tend to make it overly busy. This is especially the case with posters, billboards and banners which are usually meant to be viewed from a distance. You should not try to convey detail. Just your primary selling message, and perhaps an overall image.** Creativity is always importantAn important way in which a "photo id" is different from an advertisement is that it lacks the creative mission we normally associate with ads. We don't expect ads to be just a picture of the product, or the store front, or of the company president. We expect them to be persuasive -- to "sell" the product or idea -- and we normally assume that takes some creativity.In fact, one of the problems with the photo id model is that we may end using it as an uninspiring formula for cranking out ads. We may slip into the habit of relying on the format -- dominant photo, major headline, sales pitch, company identifier -- and just assume it is unnecessary to use our imagination. We may think it is not necessary to create an interesting headline, for example, or look for a striking and memorable photo.In other words we often settle for the ordinary rather than coming up with something creative. We settle for a boring description of the product rather than an imaginative statement of what it can do for me, what problem it can solve, or how much money I am going to save if I buy it. As a general rule, in advertising creativity is almost always better than the lack of it. Of course, this is difficult to prove. And even worse, many people claim they have no creativity in them, so they think this excuses them from trying a little harder to come up with an interesting headline idea or slogan.But even if you are "creatively challenged" you should still try just a little harder. Because in advertising it really comes down to this: "Do you want your ad, your poster, your billboard, or your banner to be effective or not?"
For such a simple statement, this is one of the hardest things for people to do. It goes back to that damn survival instinct each of us is born with. If an animal draws attention to itself in the wild, it might soon find itself the main course of a larger animals next meal. That fear of being chewed up and spit out has survived all our millions of years of evolution and is alive and well in todays business environment.Fight or flight is another instinct many of us havent yet learned to manipulate. Its easier to run away from a new idea than it is to stay and fight for it. With todays leadership-by-committee mentality and intense public scrutiny, the easiest solution is unfortunately the most popular. Companies today often miss the forest through the trees. They tend to concentrate so much on short-term profit that they fail to make investments or take advantages of opportunities that promise long-term profit simply because they require a short-term loss. It may also be argued that fighting for a new ideawhether that means pushing for the development of a new product, staving off competitors or supporting a slumping brand rather than letting it dieis usually undesirable because of such costs. Certainly that might be true in the short term, but in the long run, giving up too soon my actually cost your company far more in lost revenues, public outrage or shrinking market share. It requires a different way of thinking. Advertising and promoting your business is an investment in your business future. Investments are not mere costs. They come with a benefit. Lets get one thing straight from the very beginning. No company ever dominated its industry by operating with a philosophy of fear. And, ultimately, no company can survive if it doesnt learn to conquer its fear and take chances, make changes. It is the ability to see past any short-term problems to the bigger, long-term picture that has fueled the meteoric rise of the worlds most successful companies. Nobody knew what Apple was before its history making 1985 Super Bowl commercial. Apple paid to run that commercial only once, but it ran again hundreds of times around the country and the world during local and national news broadcasts. Stories about Apple and its commercial were front-page news for weeks.When it comes to advertising, you might wonder what kinds of changes are needed. After all, its just advertising. If your ads look like your competitors ads, if your messages are strikingly similar, if you talk to yourself instead of your customers, if you worry more about your logo being large enough than the message being attention-getting enough, you need to change.Now this is just the first step, so we wont get into any more detail here. The object of this step is to let you know that you need to screw up your courage and prepare to make some changes in your advertising that will have a profound effect on your bottom line.Fear is the greatest motivator. However, instead of motivating people to act, it usually causes people to freeze or retreat. It takes courage to make the kinds of changes that are needed to survive in todays crowded, complicated and competitive business environment. Conquer your fear. Be courageous. This article introduced the first of Jeff Berney's "Twelve Steps to Creating Breakthrough Advertising Campaigns: A creative philosophy to help companies recover from years of playing it safe." Challenge yourself, your staff and your advertising agency to make a revolutionary transformation of your advertising program. And, remember, even the largest revolution begins with just one stepthe first.Jeff Berney is a freelance idealist, brand evangelist and writer. He can be reached at 816-507-2124 or email@example.com. 2006