How Much Should I Spend on Advertising/Marketing?

Some time ago I wrote about this topic and said then the answer to the question..."depends".
It depends on what you are selling, to whom you are selling and where you are selling. There are so many variables that it's difficult to answer the question without more information. Man Wine Guessing

This week I read a piece authored by John Heenan who assists advertising agencies in marketing themselves. That brought to light some interesting statistics that I think you'll find interesting as you attempt to advertise/market your company B2C or B2B.

When we look at some numbers we find the percentages are all over the board. According to Heenan, "Apple spends 7% of their revenue on sales and marketing, Tempur Sealy spends 15%, Oracle spends 20%, and Salesforce spends a whopping 56%. For B2B companies the simple answer is 6%. But it’s never simple."

Notice that last line..."But it's never simple."

Heenan goes on, "According to a 2014 AMA and Duke University study, 10% is the average for B2B. Does that mean 10% is the right number for you? Not necessarily. There are many factors to consider..."  So let's break them down:

  • Your Market - Who are you trying to attract to your product or service? If you are a retail business the answer may be very broad. If you are selling products or services to farmers your market gets less broad. If you are selling a service and you know the dominant decision maker your market gets less broad;
  • Your Market Hangouts - Where are your people? For example over 1 million people attended the Iowa State Fair in August if you are marketing to a broad range of people maybe you should have been there. Conversely, perhaps your target market is teachers in that case you need to be where they gather for events;
  • Your Current Customers - They are already coming in your door make sure they don't forget about you and continue to massage them with personal notes, calls and/or events. Just because they purchased what you are selling once doesn't mean they will be back unless you continue that relationship. Remember it costs less to keep a client than to find new clients;
  • Your Cost Per Customer - What does it cost you now to land a new customer and where did they come from? Do you know or do you think you know? "Word of mouth" is a common answer as to how they heard about your product/service however that answer isn't always right...but it is the easiest. 

Those four areas will help you start to define where and who your target market is and those are the first steps before you spend one dime on advertising. Remember finding out the answers to those questions all have a cost associated with the research...don't forget to include that in your base number.

See, told you "it depends".

Working It!

One of our preferred methods of communicating with businesses is on Twitter. The reason is simple; if the company is social media savvy the response time on Twitter is much faster and more direct than an email or phone call. Why? Because of transparency. When a company says they are "customer focused" yet ignore consumers the promise is empty.  In other words their action, or often inaction, speaks volumes. However on Social Media, and in this case Mid American Energy CONVO USE August 2016Twitter, everybody has a peek at what is really going on.

Sometimes things happen that allow the cream to rise to the top (if you've never milked a cow you might have to go look that up). Sometimes big and small companies outperform and here are two examples.

Last week there was a power outage in much of Iowa due to storms. Here in the Des Moines Metro thousands were without power. MidAmerican Energy is the local provider and I've learned, over the years, to turn to Twitter for help and input. I mentioned we were without electricity in our part of the Metro and within moments help and advice came back from @Mid_AmEnergyCo. So I checked their Twitter Stream and found their social media team was responding with not only advice but empathy. Actual REAL PEOPLE were responding and showing concern.

You can read the conversation above and to the right. If you click on the image it will enlarge...start at the bottom.

DART Convo August 2016Then, later in the week, I rode a Des Moines Area Rapid Transit bus to the Iowa State Fair. The bus lacked air conditioning and folks were opening up windows on the ride from the Capitol to the fairgrounds. I sent a Tweet chiding @RideDart and within two minutes they responded and were on it...notice the second screen shot.

Bottom Line

It does not matter if you are a small business or a large corporation you need to know and understand that in the world today there are many ways to communicate and be transparent. Those companies who "get it" and respond with feeling, empathy and honesty will always rise to the top and I, as a business person, am proud to call them out and share with you why I support them.  It takes work and dedication from the part of the company but it is so rewarding for those of us who count on you for service...well done! 


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The Other Universe

I was visiting today with a company that has been in their space for over 60 years. It's a good Man Older Social Mediacompany and known nationally however their brand needs to be adjusted. Consumers and business professionals know them as something that there were...not what they are today.

So, how do you re-brand a business and make that brand reflect what it is today vs. what it was thirty years ago? Oh, and their budget is limited but they have lots of people working for the company.

I introduced them to "The Other Universe".  Some of us call it social media.

Trouble is they don't understand how to make it work. Sure, they have heard of social media and yes they have a Twitter account and a business Facebook Page however, as is the case with most businesses, it is anemic. 

How do we fix that?  We start with a plan. An honest to goodness written down plan of action to make all of this work.  In that plan we must write down what our goal is and how we will measure success. Oh, and one other thing; we need to outline exactly who our target is and how we will reach out.

All of that needs to be done before they hit the keyboard.

Any bets it will get done?

It better because, in that "Other Universe" businesses, who have not been in the game as long, are figuring it out and I wouldn't want my friends to lose market share to some upstart.




Got a Mobile Strategy?

When we saw the headline in Advertising Age it was stunning: "Even as Mobile Gobbles Up Web Traffic 80% of Companies Don't Have a Long Term Strategy" Man Confused

Let that one sink in for a moment.

And, we're not talking about "Mom and Pop" brands or small business this was a survey among 4,000 seasoned marketers from around the world who admit that 37% of their digital traffic is coming from mobile, up from 31% in two years.

When we talk about mobile traffic here in the United States get this...according to SimilarWeb, 56 percent of traffic to the leading U.S.-based websites was from mobile devices in 2015.

This all poses two very important questions for you and your business:

  • Are You Mobile Friendly - Just yesterday I was directed to a media relations company website that was still not optimized for mobile. They are not alone. Why cut out over half of your potential client base. Get your website mobile friendly this week;
  • What is Your Digital Game - Consumers want to hear from you on their terms and they want to do that wherever they are. Failing to understand digital applications for business is shutting out consumers and that's bad for business.

There are all sorts of folks who can help you adapt to this technology but you need a plan, a starting point. You need to know how and where people are finding you and how they interact with your business. If you don't know...start asking. But, remember, you must replace customers on a regular basis so just because the majority of consumers may now find you outside of mobile...don't bank on that for the future.

There's much to learn and do to remain relevant. Go! 


Share Power and Social Media

Let's say you have a business and somebody, on social media, writes something really positive Facebook Shares Image about what you do. Or, in this case, our Business News Broadcast does a long form interview with a business (Repinned) and following the radio interview we share the broadcast (as we always do) with our guests. 

What YOUR business does next will either extend your voice and market share or...not.

In this case our guests Riana LeJune-Copeland and her husband Justin made the decision to post to their Facebook Page, with some nice wording and then THEIR followers re-posted the link for their friends to see. The result: In less than 22 hours 13 people shared the interview, over 1,800 impressions and the downloads of the interview (because we keep track) was in the hundreds.

No fancy media buy, not a bunch of graphics and near zero cost...other than the time Repinned has spent in building their social media audience.

Three tips for your business"

  • Building Your Audience - In social media audience building takes time and talent. It's not like buying radio, television or print where you attempt to hammer home your message and HOPE somebody buys. This is about sharing and engaging and letting people in on your back-story. It takes time but in the end people actually feel CONNECTED with you and your business. 
  • Sharing Your Story - Why business people have a problem in sharing who and what they are is astounding to us. Hell, you want people to know you and buy stuff from you...right? With social media you have the tools at your fingertips to be able to do that...daily. Get busy.
  • One and Done - This is not about doing a post and walking away. It is about the message and extending the message. Had Riana not been paying attention to her Facebook Feed and simply posted the story would her followers have shared the message?  You must stay in the game...every day. go do it. If you don't know how ask for help. There are dozens of social media agencies out there. Pick one or, better yet, learn how to DIY and win.





Ad Blocking - What it Means for Business

Hang on because those of you who are spending money on popup or banner ads on websites Road Closedare in for a bit of a shock. The use of ad blocking is growing rapidly. A full 25% of internet users currently use ad blocking software and that number is expected to double in 2016. Double... Here's the story from eMarketer.

We already know that people are skipping through ads on broadcast television. We already know that people tune out ads on the radio. We already know that click-through rates on internet ads is dismal. We already know that most email marketing has a lousy click through rate IF it gets past the "Junk Mail" folder.


Because most advertising done on a local level is just plain...bad. There is no incentive to NOT block or skip or open the marketing message's usually done poorly.

What to do?  Here are some solid tips to help you and your business get noticed:

Get Creative - Yes it costs money for good creative but you want your message to be seen/heard...correct? Lousy creative means lousy response. Give consumers a reason NOT to BLOCK your message. It makes no sense to spend $5,000 on an advertising campaign and spend zero on creative. It's called "burning money";

Get Social - If your marketing is not correctly using social media you are not going to be successful in reaching consumers. It takes planning and thought and work and consistency to pull off a successful social media campaign...not some "intern" who "knows the internet". Sit down and think...think about your message, your customers, where they hang out, what they want and then communicate with them...socially.

Get Busy - Reaching out to your current or potential customer requires you to know what is hot and what is not. There are, according to my good friend Mike Wagner, only three reasons why people are not buying what you are selling: 1) Wrong Product, 2) Wrong People, 3) Wrong Message.

There is help available. I know dozens of professional advertising/marketing people in the country. The question to you you want the help or are you blocking this message?








Best Ad of the 20th Century

Last week we attended the Des Moines Art Festival, named one of the best in the nation, and VW Imagewalked into American Dream Machines a vintage car restoration and sales business that was lucky enough to be on the edge of the festival. (Go ahead and click through, you are in for a treat!)

Tucked inside was this vintage VW sitting in their photo booth. I had to snap a picture. Look familiar?

Whoever thought this up knew about what Ad Age called the best advertising campaign of the 20th Century the 1959 Volkswagen print effort.  The art was directed by Helmut Krone and the copy for "Think Small" was written by Julian Koenig who worked for the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency.

Think Small AdI use this visual when delivering "Five in 24 - Five Things Any Business Can Do in 24 Hours to Sell More...Stuff."

Why? Because it is so central to the theme that "Less is More" when it comes to advertising. Even in 1959 they realized the impact had to come from the visual and not, so much, the wording.

People simply don't want to be reading loads of copy or hearing ads full of wording or watching TV commercials that are so complicated it takes thought.

Keeping it simple works.  Just a reminder when you are planning your next campaign. 

Thanks for reading!  




Less is More with Laura Kinnard

The new Facebook Rule for sponsored links has made a change. They will no longer kick your ad Laura IOB 18 Jan 2016out if it has too many words or fonts or...whatever clutter you have on the ad. Laura Kinnard our Social Media Contributor spent some time with Facebook Blueprint and online learning tool to help business get more done on Facebook (Great idea by the way...)

Here is just a few seconds of our on-air chat about Facebook Blueprint and note...less copy is much better here or in any ad. Just click on the icon below.

Facebook Blueprint and Copy

Laura Kinnard appears each Monday afternoon in our segment on Networking Events and Social Media for Business.  If you would like to catch our long-form business interviews you can do that on iTunes or on our Podcast Page.





Tips on Scoring Earned Media

It is called “earned media” when you get publicity through promotional efforts. You know, the Earned Media Boy reporter shows up at your business and does a great job in sharing your message/brand/effort.  It happens every day right?

It does but the promotional effort has to be something amazing.

While you think your promotion is really cool and fun and interesting you need to understand media outlets get pitched all the time and they only have so much inventory.  And, remember, media outlets survive on “paid media” or advertising.

Some Tips on Scoring Earned Media

  • Think and Plan – Sure, sometimes a promotional event goes viral on its own but to get to that point there must be some serious planning. You must take into consideration not just “the event” but how it will play with the public. Will they get it and will it make for a good “news bite”?
  • Wacky Works – Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? It was wacky, different and fun. The ALS Association scored international media attention and even offered up Ice Bucket Challenge 2.0 in 2015;
  • Celebs – Hooking your promotional event around “a name” is always a great way to induce the media to your cause. Some celebrities will pony up their time because they have a relationship to the cause or event but you need to know not just ask;
  • Broad Appeal – Even though your promotion is meant to drive your brand the event needs to be broad enough to garner wide appeal. Otherwise media outlets will ignore you;
  • Social Media – If you fail to get social with your promotion hoping the media will carry the ball for you…forget it. At the same time if you are not NOW working social media for your business but ramp it up for one event…ain’t gonna work. You must be in the space before, during and after;
  • Keep Pitching - Once and done is not a good media plan;
  • Be Timely - If you can tie your event to something that is already hot or something that is starting to bubble up, so much the better; 
  • It’s Not Free – Getting earned media is not free. It takes time, talent, planning, execution and a relationship with the media. All of those factors cost money…
  • The Relationship – I can’t stress this enough…if you and your business has created a media relationship either through paid advertising or personal it is golden. Likewise if you and your business is already seen as a leader in your vertical so much the better.

The bottom line is that earned media doesn’t “just happen”

Now, go think and plan!


Too Old for Social Media?

It happens all the time. Most recently I was at The Island Coffee Haus on Anna Maria Island (If Vacation 2016 crop useyou have not been, you must go!). I was working on The Business News Hour and using their Wi-Fi. I thought I'd shout out on Twitter and asked the owner what their handle was. She told me they didn't have one, yet, but they had Facebook and just started using Instagram. "We really need to get on Twitter but I don't know how."

I said, "Hey, no problem. If you want I can set it up for you and then link it to your Instagram account."  She said, "You know about social media?? I'm impressed that you keep up on that stuff."

It's the gray hair...

I mentioned that social media is just one of the tools we use for ourselves and our business, "It's what we do." I don't think she believed me...  

Hey, I offered.

Age bias and social media?  Sure. Because the platforms are new folks think the only people who can master the media are young people under 23.  Not so.  How about some updated social media tips?

  • Don't Marry Them - I'm talking about Facebook and Twitter because they are two very different platforms and methods. Tweets are here and gone in a matter of minutes while Facebook Posts linger and the audience isn't the same nor is how you communicate.
  • Blog Often - Beyond the engagement of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram there is the blog. This is an amazing tool to offer people the back-story of your business. Remember blog 3 times a week each week and keep it under 400 words.  Great for SEO by the way.
  • Hashtag Use - If you want to boost engagement check the #Hashtag for your particular industry and use it as well. #Coffee #BusinessLaw #Radio #IaWx (or whatever state) for weather. Find your industry and take part in the conversation. On our Business Broadcast Instagram account we use #CelebrateWorkers and post random shots of people doing their
  • Communicate - Ask questions, post surveys, ask for input. Remember social media isn't a one-way conversation or your private media outlet for sales.  They call is "social" for a reason.
  • Plan Your Effort - Have a plan for what you are going to share and talk about.
  • Video - Just use it!

Have more? Share!