Stop Advertising? Even if Your are Giving Away Money?

The other day I was listening to the radio and heard an advertisement for a business that gives Man Throwing Money away money...lots of money.  You would think that a business that gives away money wouldn't need to advertise yet there isn't a day that goes by where the Iowa Lottery isn't blasting away on radio, television and in print.

So now, let's talk about your business.

You may not be as well heeled as Terry Rich and my friends at the Iowa Lottery but it says a bunch about the need to keep plugging away, even when everybody knows your name.  So, how do you do it?  Here are a couple of tips to affordable advertising that you might want to keep in mind:

  • Go Local Chamber - If you have a business and you are hyper local stay connected, in person with your Chamber. Get involved. Your Chamber Membership is only an expense if you don't use it. When you do it becomes an investment;
  • Look for Bargains - Every media outlet has what we call excess inventory. It can be electronic or in print. Create a relationship with the sales people and you might get that call;
  • Become an Expert - Everybody has a question about nearly every business. Offer your expertise for civic functions become a media contact and share the knowledge. If folks know that you "know" they will ask for your input.
  • Start Your Blog - There is a reason Richard Branson blogs and recommends that every business owner have one: Transparency and Relationships - Your blog can build trust and be a place you can send people for answers;
  • Start a Social Media Campaign - But be smart about it and have a great understanding of where you should be and who you are trying to reach;
  • Buy Some Advertising - Two words of caution: 1) You may not buy just "any advertising" only that advertising where you KNOW your target consumer hangs out and 2) Get some help. When designing whatever advertising you are doing make sure it's done well and has a call to action otherwise give your money away..oh wait, that's where we started.

Excuse me...I've got to call Terry and see if he's got a good number for me on the next Powerball.

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The Secret of Earned Media

Let's chat about earned media. Wouldn't it be great if the print or electronic media outlets in Kid Mediayour town asked you to come by the studio or the newsroom so they could write or broadcast something...good...about your business?  

Ain't gonna happen. 

I've been in the media world for (gulp) over 40 years and during that time I have pitched business stories to the media and I've received business stories for broadcast. Few ever make it to print or on radio or on television. Why? There is an old saying in media, "If it bleeds, it leads!" Meaning the stories that have to do with...death, destruction, and sacrifice usually get covered. The good stuff about...business. Not so much.

It's not that the newspaper or broadcast facility doesn't want to cover your business story it's just that they don't have the time or the space.  And, they get pitched all the time.

However, and here is the secret to getting earned media: Don't talk about your...business. Instead go beyond the obvious and look for trends that are happening in your town and then match those trends to your business.  

Here is an example: Over the past month there's been lots of news interest in rehabbing old buildings, tearing down old buildings (Think Downtown YMCA), re-purposing empty spaces (Think former Younkers Building) Those stories have made it in print and in broadcast.  When we were pitched a business story about an investment firm that had rehabbed an old restaurant into office space and then given several "proofs" about how many buildings that once housed restaurants are now being converted because "restaurant row" has moved elsewhere...it got our attention and we ran with the story.

That didn't just happen. It was the work of one of our associates, Brooke Benschoter, a highly competent public relations expert who did the extra work to notice what was making news and then create a story line that was unique.  We did the story about Compass Financial, said some nice things about them and...talked about the rehabbing effort.  

BAM...earned media.

That is the lesson...look at the news buzz and then create the story that matches what is being talked about.  If you need help call us...we just happen to know some great people that have that ability.

Thanks for reading... 

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Let's Start A Media Company!

Thought I'd share something I head recently about advertising, marketing and the media. If Media Signyou've ever wondered if you could compete with "media giants" now is the time to act. And you have the power. Ready?

So you are in business and I come to you and say, "Hey, let's you and I start a media company!" No doubt you would wonder what I was drinking and might come back with, "A media company? Are you crazy?  That would cost a fortune!"

Maybe...and maybe not. If you've got seven minutes have a listen. I think you'll get it!

 

Thanks for reading and listening!

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I'm Trying To Help But...

The small business owner sat across the table and said, "You know, we Woman Yawnhave all of this collateral to give to our retail clients to help them sell more; but they don't use it. Why?"

The answer hinges on time and talent.

We flipped through the various print pieces and while they were colorful and printed on great stock there was simply...too much. Too much detail, too many offerings, too many pages...too much.

Here's something for you to remember. The average human has an attention span that is below a goldfish. It's true.  If you don't capture somebody's attention in under eight seconds...forget about it.  And, while this business has had a great run, much of what they were producing and sending out seemed old...and a bit tired.

Time & Talent

If you need to capture time...you need to have some amazing talent at creating the brochure/print ad/television commercial/radio ad/video that connects with the right audience. That means you better KNOW who your audience and HOW they want to be reached. 

Be bold and get noticed!

So, what do you think?

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Big Getting Little

Grocery store chains across the country are consolidating or simply calling HyVee Local Produce Two it quits. Last week legendary A&P filed for bankruptcy protection...for the second time. Kroger announced they are buying Harris Teeter and one of the oldest chains, Albertson's was swallowed up. Locally, family owned Dahls threw in the towel.

Today there are only a handful of regional grocery store chains in the nation. 

The grocery industry is vastly different today than just 10 years ago because there is more competition and the changing habits of consumers. Natural, local and fresh rate high on the expectation list of consumers. So, how does a regional chain compete against the likes of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and others?

Bring on the LOCAL feel and flavor of a time gone by.


HyVee LocalA couple of years ago HyVee, a Midwest regional chain, had a pretty successful run at calling attention to locally sourced produce. (Photo at left and you can click to enlarge.) While it all worked the effort was small compared to what they've recently rolled out.

Here (above and to the right) is the new roll-out of how big can go little all in an effort to boost a little nostalgia while calling attention to the fact that they sell what comes from your neighbor. 

The entire "feel" of the brand says, "Hey, we remember what it was HyVee Local Produce Onelike...shop here for local produce!" And then they go to great lengths to tell you how "local".

We love the graphics, the look and the feel of the campaign.  Good stuff HyVee! 

Thanks for reading!

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Working Together

Every so often we run up on a promotion that we really like, appreciate and Passport USE 2015 hope others pick up make it their own. As many of you know, July can be a slow month in the restaurant business. To boost awareness and business three independently owned fine, European Themed eateries joined together to promote their cuisine through the Gourmet Passport.

Here is how it works: Consumers go to one of the three restaurants, Baru 66 of Windsor Heights, Bistro Montage of Des Moines or The Strudl Haus of Des Moines and order the specialty priced meal designed for the Gourmet Passport. Upon leaving the restaurant your "passport" is stamped. You then make reservations at the next eatery and repeat the process until you have visited all three.

David Enosh MichaelWhen the Gourmet Passport is stamped by each restaurant the diners put
their contact information inside the front cover and leave them with the restaurant owner.  All of the completed "passports" are collected and a drawing is held with the winner receiving a free full course meal for six prepared by Chef David Baruthio, Chef Enosh Kelly and Chef Michael Leo.

Because the promotion runs the entire month of July there is plenty of time to make reservations at each establishment.

Brilliant!  And, yes...we're going! 

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Marketing: B to C or B to B - Emotion Still Rules

Last week I had the opportunity to present "Five in 24" for the Iowa B to B and B to C MarketingAssociation of Business and Industry. If you want more on what "Five in 24" is and want me to come and share with your group...here's a link.

One of the segments in the presentation deals with "Creating Advertising that is Effective". It's our opinion that creating messages using emotion is far more effective than "fact based" creative. One of the attendees asked a great question: "How about business to business advertising? Your thoughts seem to pertain to business to consumer advertising."

Using emotion in B to B advertising works just as well as B to C.  Why? Because no matter what you are selling; people still (and I know this is wacky talk) buy from people.  And because that's still the way we conduct our business, building on those relationships buy using emotion works...every time.

It's how you build the creative that is important.  

While that was a great question it is also a prime example as to why internal marketing departments of corporations could use some professional outside help. Here's why: If your business is focused on how technologically superior your product is the marketing will often focus on the hard-core nuts and bolts of your "Frapinstat" and not on the human outcomes of actually using it.

Yet your "Frapinstat" might change lives, might save lives, might make work easier, might change the way people live, might alter production, might save money so that going about life is easier.

Get it?

And, this doesn't mean you scrap all the "high-tech" jargon but you should use a mix that is effective.  It doesn't mean your message has to be tearful or sappy but it should move something in the viewer that connects with the human vs. the cold, hard facts of why you think your company is...superior.

Hope that helps and thanks for reading!

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Grab the Tissues - Emotion Rules

This week I get to travel to Davenport, Iowa for the Iowa Association of Man TissuesBusiness and Industry "Taking Care of Business Conference" where I'll do a presentation of "Five in Twenty-Four - Five things a business can do in 24 hours to refresh their brand message and sell more...stuff."

One of the "Five Things" I'll share is that good creative works. And, creative messages that have an emotional appeal work much better than the campaign that simply offers "the facts".

Want proof?

Whirlpool sells cold, hard metal products.  Recently they launched a campaign that warmed the appliances. It's called "Every Day, Care" and features some tear jerking images of people caring for people with the underlying message that we do daily chores because we care for the people we love.  Here's an example.

 

The result?  Whirlpool's sales have risen 6.6% in the first six months after the campaign started vs. the year-ago period, four points ahead of the appliance industry. The brand's positive social-media sentiment has risen more than six fold. Purchase intent scores are up 10% from pre-campaign levels, which has translated into a comparable lift in market share.

So, if Whirlpool can warm cold steel appliances and that drives sales what can your business do to appeal to the emotions of the consumer?  Think about it because...it works.

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Made The Way You - Hills Pet Food

We get it. We also do design work for our clients.  From packaging to direct Hills Flyer June 2015 mail to billboards to flyers.  And, yes, we've made an error or two in the years that we've been at it. (Once we failed to spell an ingredient correctly in on a tiny list on the back of a bag.) So, yes...we understand that mistakes happen and not only to small advertising agencies like ours or maybe even in your business.

The image here is from a direct mail piece that came in the Sunday Des Moines Register. If you look at it carefully you're left with a question: "Made the way you...would what?"

This happens when text boxes are left out of the final design and print run. So, how do you make sure something like this doesn't happen, even if you don't have a staff?  Some tips:

  • Pass It Around - Often the person who writes the copy is expected to proof the copy. Big mistake because often writers may "think" they included the information and on proofing just don't see it.  Pass the piece around to others to review;
  • Print Run - We nearly always demand that if the printing is done locally that somebody from here is at the print run to check color, layout, bleeds, etc. It takes some extra time but worth it;
  • Create a Mock-Up - What we see on a computer screen often just isn't the same as holding the actual print piece. So before it goes to press create a mock-up so you can handle, circle changes, etc.
  • One More Time - We've even gone so far as to take a technical item out of the office for a review from another technical writer.  Again, it might take some time but perhaps he/she might find a goof.

Speaking of Goofs - Before writing this we posted the image on our Facebook Page and asked folks to see if they "noticed anything odd". Many didn't but, once it was pointed out it was, to some, a "brand ding". A negative impact of the brand seemed a little harsh but, for some folks...that may be all it takes. 

Take a little extra time...and thanks for reading!

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The Power of Connection

As most of you know I do a daily business news broadcast. Along with the MPL Studio Editbusiness news of the day and the markets we'll make welcome one or two business guests during the hour. The interview segments run, on average, eight to twelve minutes. We've had hundreds of conversations with established business leaders to start-ups.

Within 24 hours we send out guests the radio blog links, podcast links, photos and any video we take during the interview.  What happens next is interesting.

Some of our guests take the information we share with them and post it on their own blogs, Facebook Page, Twitter, Flicker...etc.  Some clearly don't. How do we know?

We watch the number of "plays" each has.  Those who are connected to social media and have their own audience start to build "play numbers" right away.  Those who don't...don't.

It's the power of connection.  Sure, while we're live we'll reach hundreds of listeners but, for those who understand the power of social media, hundreds more get to listen to the interview segment on "their time".  That, my friends, is the new reality of media.  Listeners, viewers want stuff when they want it and not built around our schedule.

Oh, the times they are a changin'!

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