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Archive for December, 2010


Selecting Advertising Media

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

There are many ways to promote your business. Advertising is one of the most efficient ways, but only if you choose the right avenue; otherwise you will find yourself burning money fast. Which media should you choose for Advertising? That’s the million dollar question! Here’s how to choose where to advertise:

Know the media channels and their audiences: No matter what your objective is, you have to reach the right audience. So when it comes to developing a media strategy, the most important factor is understanding who is viewing your ad. As you are both a business person and a consumer of advertising media, you can be a test market yourself.

Ideally you have some budget set aside for market research but we’re not always in an ideal world.  If budgets are tight see below:

Ask Yourself These Questions:

  • What is your favorite media?

Be careful with this one.  If you are a VP at WalMart you probably follow different media than your clients.  If you are one of the skateboarding founders of Airwalk you probably have a similar set of interests to your customers.

  • What media do you spend the most time with?
  • Where are you exposed most to Internet / TV / radio / newspapers / billboards?
  • Where do you see your competitors advertising, especially repetitive advertising?
    If they keep promoting at one media, it’s likely that the media channel is working for them, or they have lots of money to burn.  Ever notice how a McDonalds will open on a corner and within 6 months one of their competitors is across the street?  Not every company is able/willing to spend the money McDonalds does on market research so they watch for where the big guy is putting the new store and they follow them in.  You can do that with your advertising dollars too, the catch is you have to be capable of going head to head with your competition.

Get The Rates

Contact the local sales director to check on information and rates of TV stations or radio media groups. If you are advertising in newspapers or magazines, check their websites or call the sales department to get a media kit or a rate card, which details advertising information with rates, deadlines and guidance. If it is a website, usually there is a tab where users can obtain basic advertising information and contacts for further information.  This process sounds simple enough but to get the best deal you’re better off hiring a professional ad firm to do your media buying for you.  Remember the station rep’s job is to get you to spend money on their station whereas your agency’s job is to get you on the right station to reach your audience.  The best part is that the media company, not you, pays your ad guys to get you the best deal.  Like when buying a home and the seller pays all closing costs.

Work On Your Content

The content of the proposed media should be of great consideration. As you may or may not notice, a lot of ad placement doesn’t make much sense. Depending on the business type, you may select the local weekly newspaper, rather than a Rock&Roll afternoon radio program. A billboard ad for a personal investment business may reach its clients more effectively in a downtown area; while a billboard ad for a fashionable saddle company would be more reasonable to place in a beach town, popular with teenagers.

Who is going to put together the content?

The content needs to be consistent with the information on your website and other media ads. It should be able to attract and hold people’s attention by communicating directly, clearly and creatively. Don’t forget to add your contact information such as an email address, website links, or phone numbers. You may be tempted to do the work by yourself. However, is it worth hiring an agency to do it for you if your response rate goes up?  Your ad will be more relevant and targeted at the market by hiring a professional. Always look for the agencies that put client’s business goals first. The better they serve their clients, the more effective the campaign will be.

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC) is a client-orientated marketing and advertising company that is dedicated to providing results-driven brand marketing communications and campaigns to businesses just like yours.

A FiG A Day Keeps Your Competition Away

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Last time, we discussed how to find your niche. This time we’ll discuss how to keep your niche from rivals. Once you discover your business niche, in this quickly developing competitive environment, you have to protect it.

First of all, competition is a good thing. Competition keeps you active, professional, and requires continual learning to overcome strategies, techniques, and approaches used by organizations that are trying to take your business or from whom you are trying to win new business. However, it never seems friendly. To win you have to be comprehensive about both competitors and yourself, you have to secure your business advantages, and you have to react quickly to their moves.

“If you know yourself and your enemy, you’ll never lose a battle.” ——————- The Art of War

This line best interprets the reasons for being comprehensive about both your competitors’ and your strengths and weaknesses. One cannot win a battle if he is too busy working on his own strategy while overlooking the opponent’s attack; similarly one cannot win a battle if he has no idea about his own advantages against the opponent. Too often, sales people work hard to sell more, but they lack knowledge of their own products, services, approaches or strategies. If you don’t know what you are selling and why, you’ll never beat the competition no matter how strong or weak they are.

Speaking of your advantages, once you have them, how do you secure them? The secrets lie in intellectual properties. While products and tangible goods are easy to acquire and develop, the intangibles are often very hard to copy. Successful organizations always have their unique personalities, and usually it is their personalities that sell. When you think of Apple, you think of innovation; when you search Wikipedia, you know you have an answer; when you drive Volvo, you feel safe; and when you drink Coca Cola, you experience the American spirit. Their competitors, even if they can provide customers similar products, cannot provide the same unique shopping experience.

Therefore, to keep the competitions away from your business niche, it is crucial to create a unique business culture, and develop a relevant business presence. Don’t overlook the effect of culture. Creating a bond is stronger than any other thing. The only disadvantage to this strategy is that like the business niche, culture is very difficult to create and keep. And I’m not talking about “we can wear sandals to the office on Fridays” type company culture.  We are talking about customer experience, projecting cultural relevance to your market.  Despite the time and effort necessary to create a culture, every employee you hire must understand what you are aiming to accomplish in the marketplace, and every action you make needs to be consistent. However, as long as you stick with it, and make decisions based on it, you will be able to establish a unique culture for your organization and a unique experience for your customer.

All right, now imagine you are facing attack from a competitor on a newly developed product. There are generally four actions you can choose: Defend, Return Fire, Accept, and Assist the attacker. I know that the last two options sound silly, but let me explain.

Accept: Accepting the attack and seeing the weakness they are trying to exploit or the strength they are trying to project.  How does the market respond?  Then use this situation/information to improve your product.

Assist the attacker: Find out why you are getting attacked. The attacker may be able to support you somehow. Sometimes it is even a good opportunity to build a win-win strategic relationship.  For example the Airline Industry.  My customers want to go to Chicago but my competition comes in and offers them a better price I can’t compete with on a flight there.  So I can either lose money fighting them or I can accept that they have a better positioned hub, or what have you, and I can drop or reduce my own Chicago flights and offer to partner with my competitor on that particular route.

FiG‘s advice for competition: Remain confident when facing it, fight with good will, and turn the enemy (or the knowledge you gain from them) into ally if you can!

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC) is dedicated to providing results-driven brand marketing communications and campaigns to businesses just like yours. It is important to communicate and connect with your customers on a level that has more meaning than an impression.

Niche

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Nowadays, we hear the word “niche” everywhere, and we talk about it all the time. But what is a niche? More importantly: How to find your niche? Let’s deal with it one by one.

What is niche? Simple! It is something you are good at and concentrating your efforts on. Taking advantage of a niche is the idea of increasing demand either by capturing a larger share of the consumer base or by going after a target market that competing companies have yet to recognize. A niche can be anything: big as a unique business model, a group of big strategic corporate partners, and a strong global supply chain; or small as friendly and helpful employees, colorful store decoration, and a piece of special dessert that no other restaurant can compete with. A successful marketer can have more than one niche, they must evolve with the company after all. But to start with, you should choose only one.

How to find your niche? There is a common scenario for entrepreneurs: Everyday you wake up with a new brilliant inspiration for your business. Which one is your niche? Hmm, I don’t have the answer for you. However, here are some tips for you to make a good decision.

1) Learn Much As You Can About Your Customers: It is always the right time to learn about and understand your customers. It is an even better time today, because your customers can change their preferences at anytime. Only when you know what they are looking for, can you position yourself.

2) Brainstorm: Brainstorming is not a one-time thing, it is the heart of innovation and improvement. Big companies implement particular cultures to encourage employees to brainstorm. For instance, Google asks its employees to use 20% of their time at work on whatever they want instead of their major assignments, to generate fresh ideas and inspiration for future projects. Same thing can be done to define your niche. The more ideas, the more choices, the better chance to find your specialty.

3) Long-Term Focus: The last and most important tip: Whatever you choose to be your niche should align with your long-term goals. Don’t get distracted by your competitors’ every move, just the ones that affect your audience.

Every successful company has its own niche, big or small. If you don’t have one, you will continually struggle and then disappear. However, it can be hard to find on your own, and perhaps even harder to maintain it. We’ll discuss more about how to keep your niche from being stolen out from under you by your competitors next week. Remember, it is always important to keep an eye on your target market’s needs/interests and focus on effectively communicating the value of your business.

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC) is dedicated to providing results-driven brand marketing communications and campaigns to businesses just like yours. It is important to communicate and connect with your customers on a level that has more meaning than an impression.

Marketing Your Business at Christmas

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

The holiday season is always exciting for marketing folks, and the holidays are one of the best times to market your business. In fact this season is a goldmine, if you know what you’re doing. Is your company ready this Christmas? Let’s talk about what a company needs to do at this time of a year.

First, we all know Christmas is a time for companies to reignite relationships with their clients. Corporate budgets for expensive gift baskets, cases of wine, sought after tickets etc. How to choose your gifts? Here are a few tips: 1) Carefully think out gifts reflecting your brand, your niche, and your image; 2) Inspirations from your company history, your colors, your marketplace or your existing advertising will make a gift memorable; 3) Have some fun with industry terminology, trade talk, and achievements, and you are sure to be remembered.

Second, it is staff incentive and rewards time. When The Holidays come around it is important to recognize the efforts and achievements of your employees. Using business gifts as an incentive or as a staff reward can be an effective way of motivating a team and providing a way to focus a team’s efforts. But personalized business gifts at Christmas also show that the individual’s efforts have been noticed. Just one simple act will show an individual that their efforts have been appreciated.

After thanking both your major customers and employees, it is time to plan Christmas marketing. To begin with, a company has to know its marketing goal in this season, whether it is to increase the conversion rates, the order size, or simply just attract more traffic to the website. Each goal has its own rules to play and it varies among companies to determine which one is important. Next you need a budget.

How much money is your company planning to dedicate to your Christmas marketing? If it’s a small, experimental budget, then you’ll need to be reasonable about how much you can expect to achieve. However, don’t get restricted by the budget. Think out of the box. It is the idea that matters and will bring you customers. With the budget and a goal in mind, when planning your holiday marketing, don’t forget to connect it with the Christmas spirit; be generous and thankful as a potential advantage for your marketing.

You may have noticed, Christmas campaigns nowadays cry out for social media elements as well. So here, FiG Advertising is going to give you some social media marketing suggestions as our gift to you.

General Rule: Successful social media marketing is about offering value to people. This can be posting discounts, especially at gift giving times, when everyone’s budgets are stretched. However, it’s not just discounts. To be truly social online you need to do more than talk about your products/services.

Social Interaction: Interact with people, start conversations, respond to feedback, engage in debate, and promote discussions. Never ignore your blogs, instead, keep updating it. As Kevin Gibbons said:

“Google’s crawlers won’t be clocking off at three to go down the pub, so don’t stop feeding them the content they need.

Regular, original copy is essential for your organic optimization. Your website should be putting out a regular content ‘heartbeat’, so that the robots know to keep checking it.”

This is where intelligent and useful blog posts come in; thoughtful and succinct tweets; clever Facebook applications; content that’s worth sharing. Although Christmas may not be the major marketing effort of your company, it’s a great promotional opportunity that will generate some attention.

FiG Advertising and Marketing has a slew of options for both promotional items for gift giving as well as the advertising know-how to get your clients spending with you and not your competition this, or any other, season.