Advertising can seem like a tough thing to pin down. It’s easy to spend a lot of money for very little results. However, advertising can be a valuable method of promoting your company and generating leads and your options for doing so have improved dramatically with the evolution of the Internet. The way to make it work is to start with the end in mind. If you identify what you are trying to do with, your advertising before spending even one penny on it, you'll create a much better chance of getting value for your money.
For a small- to medium-sized business, Direct Response Marketing is usually the best form of advertising. It is called Direct Response because it asks a prospect to respond directly to an advertisement. This could mean anything from requesting more information to making a purchase, but the response will always be linked directly to that specific advertisement. For example, an advertisement that simply promotes a local restaurant would not be “direct response,” but if that same advertisement included a 2-for-1 coupon it would be “direct response.”
There are two unique features of Direct Response Marketing.
- It involves two-way communication with your prospects.
- It generates a measurable response rate from your Target Market.
Response rates to a direct marketing advertisement are easily tracked, allowing you to determine the relative value of one advertisement over another. Additionally, every advertisement has a specific purpose. Ads that simply promote a brand name have little value unless they cover a large territory over a long period of time, whereas a single direct response ad can accomplish a specific result. This doesn’t mean that promoting awareness through branding is a waste of money, but in most cases your advertisements should include some form of Direct Response Marketing. And if your marketing budget is limited, they should nearly all include Direct Response Marketing.
Business to Business
Typically, business-to-business marketing should be designed to generate leads rather than sales. It depends on the product, but rarely will a business purchaser make a purchase decision the first time he is approached, so relationship building becomes that much more important. Businesses are usually out there looking for solutions to their problems prior to making their buying decisions. This is true for business-to-consumer marketing as well, but to a lesser degree. Consumers often go shopping to make a purchase whereas businesses usually go shopping for more information first.
One reason is that business purchases are often more substantial than consumer purchases. When a great deal of money is on the line, a right decision becomes that much more important. Also, several people are often involved in making a business buying decision. And the more people involved, the longer it takes. By contrast, there are usually only one or two people involved in a consumer buying decision. Put all of this together and it is easy to see how a lot of information can change hands before a business purchase can made.
Direct Response Marketing crosses over into Sales when initiated by salespeople (i.e. telemarketers, door-to-door salespeople), but we’ll concentrate here on Direct Response Marketing as a form of lead generation.
Multi Step Marketing
For this reason, business-to-business marketing activities should primarily be direct response in nature, but they should also be multi-step in design. If your business prospects are actually shopping for information, the job of your marketing activities should be to get that information into their hands before trying to make a sale.
For example, instead of trying to sell medical supplies directly through advertising, step one might be to encourage your prospects to call for a free catalogue. When you send the catalogue, step two might be to offer them a free subscription to your newsletter. If they accept, step three might then be to offer them a first-time customer special along with their first issue. The sale might not actually happen until step four.
As you can imagine, multi-step marketing can be an excellent approach for marketing to consumers as well. Prospects that enter your Sales System from a well-designed, multi-step marketing campaign are highly qualified. In fact, if your marketing campaign is designed well enough, prospects may almost sell themselves.
It is possible and sometimes advisable to hire marketing experts to promote your business for you, but it is still essential that you have a thorough understanding of the process. After all, just because someone calls himself an expert, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows what is best for your business. If things go wrong, it is you who will take the fall, not the outside expert. So take expert advice. Just make sure you set the direction and are part of the final decision.
Your marketing message is the specific message each of your marketing campaigns is designed to deliver to your Target Market. It will often take the form of a script, whether written, as in a magazine advertisement, spoken, as in a radio advertisement, or both, as in a website, but a well-executed marketing message must be more than mere words. It must touch the prospect at an emotional level, delivering a promise to satisfy a need.
Of course, for your message to have such an impact it must respond to the primary needs of your Target Market. The more you know about your prospects, the more targeted your messages can be. So review your psychographic work and then consider the impact your messages must have on your customers. Remember, all sales are made initially at an emotional level, so this is where you must begin. It's the most effective way to appeal to the needs of your Target Market.
Communicating at an emotional level means touching the senses in an appropriate manner. This could include any or all of your five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. A tender photograph of a baby, for example, will instantly draw out the emotions associated with parenting much better than words. Words can play an emotional role as well, but often they play a secondary role. In any case, the prospect is attracted by the sensory message and then held by the intellectual message.
While designing content is a highly intuitive process. The following steps offer a good place to start. It is a basic framework you can use for most marketing situations.
Attention getter — This is where your marketing piece delivers its sensory-based emotional message. This acts as a magnet that attracts your prospects’ interest. Once you have identified your prospects’ greatest needs (as they relate to your products and services), you should look for ways to represent them as emotionally-based images, sounds, text or what have you. Your goal is to encourage prospects to take the time to focus more closely on what the rest of your marketing piece has to say.
Lottery advertisements often depict people who are living the life of their dreams. They show parents spending time with their families rather than working, people quitting jobs they don’t like, never ending vacations, and so on.
Supportive information — Next you will support your “attention getter” (sensory stimulant) with information that lets your prospect know who you are and what you offer. Their subconscious mind has pointed them in your direction, so now it’s time to offer some support to their conscious mind.
The lottery advertisement then lets the prospect know that these people are living such wonderful lives because the lottery has solved all of their money problems.
Logical argument — Here you will present the logic behind your emotional message. If your prospect is both consciously and subconsciously interested in your solutions to their needs, they'll be looking for confirmation in the form of logic.
Example: You can’t win the lottery if you don’t enter.
Call to action — Once they have been attracted by your marketing piece, what do you want your prospects to do? Should they call you for more information? Should they fill out a form to request a catalogue? Should they place an order? Should they visit your website?
Example: In the lottery example, they may encourage you to buy a ticket before the next draw date.
If you want your prospects to do something, then ask. If your only goal is to increase your brand awareness, then a call to action may be less necessary, but this type of advertising is typically only cost effective for larger companies. In most cases, it's best to ask the prospect to take some sort of action.
Other examples might include:
For a free catalogue…
For a free sample…
For more information…
To place your order…
- Give us a telephone call
- Come in to our store
- Fill in and send back the form
- E-mail us
- Clip and bring in the coupon
- Visit our website
- Click here for a free report
While your marketing message must stand out, it must go beyond simply interesting, shocking or beautiful. It must be relevant and helpful, otherwise it will have minimum valuable impact. By itself, name recognition is of little value to all but the most established of brands.
It's not enough just to create awareness. The Internet company Pets.com, for example, used television ads featuring a crazy sock puppet that offered more shock value than real value. The advertisements created plenty of awareness but not enough in the way of sales. People knew they could buy pet food online, but the advertisements didn’t offer them a good enough reason to do so. Eventually, like so many others, the company went out of business. The moral is, if you want people to respond to your advertising you need to offer them a compelling reason to do so.
Develop some content ideas in the space provided. This will become part of your Marketing System. For a greater impact, consider sending the same message through more than one channel simultaneously (for example, a radio commercial could encourage prospects to see your website for more details) and consider engaging a reputable marketing company to do this for you.
Attention getter (visual, words, or both):
Call to action: