Building preferences can include branding as well. This is basically telling your customers why they should come to you rather than your competitor. Make sure to include your top-notch customer service, your above-average safety rating, the extra services you provide, the superiority of your product, or whatever makes you better. Strong, aggressive advertisement about your positives can make this happen.
The where and how
You're probably thinking, "great, but how can I get the most for my money." Milton Zlotnick, a SCORE counselor, CPA, consultant, and AOL forum leader, dissects the cheap ways to advertise in an article on Bplans.com. Some highlights of his article include writing and distributing press releases to newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. Make sure the information is newsworthy and remember, even if it's only published in one place that's still thousands of people who will see or hear it.
Trade shows are another of Zlotnick's suggestions. Although a bit pricey, the contacts at a good trade show can be invaluable (so be prepared, the next big industry trade show is the AS3/GSE Expo going on May 13-15, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada). Make sure you have plenty of informational materials to hand out to interested attendees and follow up within seven days to the people you talked to at the show.
Zlotnick also mentions joining an internet newsgroup, which can raise awareness of your web site and use direct mailings, not spam, since they target a specific market and are a better buy (even if a bit more expensive).
Target markets are another key ingredient to getting the most out of your advertising budget, according to Doug Wilson, an author, professor, marketing expert, and one of the authors of the software package Marketing Plan Pro on Bplans.com. He illustrates how targeting a specific population in the market is more efficient and makes better use of resources than a cheap, broad list which won't generate as much revenue as a specific group of consumers who are more likely to use and buy your products and services.
To discover a target market, Wilson uses four categories: geographics (location, size, etc.), demographics (age, gender, income, etc.), psychographics (life-style, personality, loyalty, need of repeat business, etc.), and behaviors (where they get information, attitudes, level of knowledge, etc.).
After gathering this information you can come up with a target market profile and use this to drive your advertising strategy. Wilson stresses that target marketing gives you the ability to reach and influence the people most likely to buy and use your products and services. These are your ideal customers.
Advertising is the way to advance in the current economy. The market is sitting there, an entity waiting for products and services to present themselves. By aggressively advertising, you can gain more of a market share (percent of the market that buys from you), not only bringing you larger revenues, but also taking consumers away from your competitors. The SPI's PIMS program shows that businesses with aggressive advertising gain more market share in times of recession, than in times of market growth. Why? Because everyone advertises in good times, but it's those companies that advertise in the downturns that really come out ahead.
In continuing the discussion on marketing and advertising, I would like to dig into basics. When it comes to advertising, one needs to remember the “who, why, what, where, and when.” Remember that...
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Free bottled water and newspapers, $9 coupons, carwashes, oil changes and valet parking are just some of the inducements that D/FW and nearby parking-lot owners are wielding this weekend.