Advertising is a powerful marketing tool that is used to do 5 very important things:
- Predict and create demand among consumers. We should suggest our client what we want them to do. And make them want to do it. We should reshape surrounding environment.
- Destroy your competitors. If you can’t do it, then they will be stealing your clients every day.
- Sell more. The main purpose of advertising is to increase sales. Not only sales department is responsible for increasing sales. Brand managers might want to ask: “But what about brand awareness?” Come on, open your eyes. Who cares how many people know your brand if nobody buys it.
- Sell at the highest price. If you are Walmart, then you can allow your product to be cheap. If not, your only option is to sell at the highest possible price.
- Build trustworthy long-term relationships with clients. If you care about your clients, you should know who they are. But most companies still don’t have a clear picture of their target audience. We will talk about it later on.
You can’t become an expert in an hour. And you can’t be an expert in everything. You can get a general idea of it, but your knowledge will be superficial.
Let’s take a fresh look at your advertising activity. When advertising works as it’s supposed to, it’s inspirational. But most companies don’t know how to make it work.
Why is it better to create your own marketing department and hire your own advertising specialists, rather than outsource it to some advertising agency?
Most advertising agencies usually don’t use extraordinary or cutting edge means of advertising, because it takes a lot of time to design and plan them.
Now let’s talk strategy.
Strategy 1. An advertising campaign must have a target. An advertising campaign plan is not a list of means you are going to use or a list of your assumptions about its results. The plan is about how where and when these means will be used and how to make them more efficient. Everybody knows it, but hardly ever does it. Let’s take sport for example.
A team spends a lot of time studying the strategy of their opponents. What do they do? They take a video of previous games of their opponent and watch it carefully, game by game, strategy by strategy. Also they revise their own previous games and see what was good and what was not good enough. And what do they do after that? They create a list of improvements that they need to make and create a strategy for the future games. Professional teams hardy ever improvise on field. They thoroughly think over what they are going to do and then do it. Of course, the game looks to us quite natural, but we know that there is a lot of planning and a certain strategy beneath it. So, if you want to win, you need to do the same thing. You should create an advertising strategy. But what is an advertising strategy? This is “who you want to be when you grow up”. The strategy must contain certain tasks and the course of your actions. We will talk about it later on. Undoubtedly, an advertising strategy must have a certain target market and specific goals that should be achieved. “We want to increase share of the market” is not a specific goal. “We want to increase our share of the market by 27% during (a certain time)”. Now this is specific enough.
Next, your goals must be observable and realistic. Marketing managers like to set unrealistic goals for advertising managers, for example, 93% market share and increase in sales by 2.5 times. You should learn to see what goals can really be achieved… and just a pinch to it. The goals must be substantial, you shouldn’t set a goal that you know you will achieve anyway. Set a goal that you want to achieve, even if it’s a little more than what seems achievable. The main point here is: if your goal is 100, then you will probably get 90 as a result. If your goal is 90, then you’ll get only 80.
Your goals and their results should make your company more profitable.
Your goals should have certain time limits and check-points. If your goal doesn’t have any time limit, then it’s just a fantasy, which most likely will never come true. So much for wishful thinking.
Strategy 2. Advertising should change the surrounding environment, not only the position of the company to its competitors. You have some power. If you can use it to change the environment around you, then you can change your competitive position. It’s like whipping up water and whipping up milk. When you whip up water nothing really happens, water will stay water. But when you whip up milk and put in some effort, milk will eventually turn into cream. You got the idea. Don’t change the company, but change the environment around it.
Strategy 3. Be different. If you want to change the environment, then you must be different from your competitors in some way. Similar advertising strategies don’t help to sell your product. Why can’t you turn the market over and make it go in a completely different way? You can be cheap like Walmart or luxurious like Mercedes. Think about it. Because if you are somewhere in the middle, you will get lost.
There are no reasons for a prospect client to consider your product as an alternative. Go to Walmart, everything is cheap there, however service is terrible. But it still works. Walmart has occupied this position in the market. And it does it pretty well. On the other hand, there is Mercedes. People like luxury, they want to look cool and successful. But not everybody can afford it. But does the company care about it? No. They have a definite target audience. These two companies have chosen completely different strategies, but they share the same feature: they stand out, they are different from everybody else in the market. And their advertising campaigns are different as well. So here is the question: how do you stand out? You can answer this question, don’t you? But in most cases marketing department doesn’t know the answer, and as a result they build a mediocre advertising strategy. And should make you frightened. “We offer great quality, good service, all our employees are very professional.” But that’s how it’s supposed to be! Volkswagen bug is an ugly and small car – that’s its distinctive feature. Ferrari is expensive and red. Starbucks makes good and expensive coffee. And what makes you unique? This can upset you, but you are probably not unique in any way. Then the only way to stand out is striking advertising campaign.
Strategy 4. Build long-term relationships with your clients, win their trust. It’s not the market share that brings you profit, but loyal clients. First of all, market share is a temporary concept. And it is not always efficient cost wise. Actually, marketing managers like to talk about it. But for you the most important thing is profitability of your company and return on your investments, not market share. We all know statistics, it costs 6 to 10 times more to attract new clients, than retaining loyal ones. Then why don’t you do it? You must spend more time and money on working with loyal clients. 95% of your profit comes from clients that return to you again and again. Satisfied clients will probably stick with you till the end, and your competitors will have a hard time trying to win them. But those who were not fully satisfied will leave you without leaving a note. That’s what you should focus your advertising campaign on. Invest into client loyalty.
Sales promotion doesn’t increase client loyalty. In addition to this, your advertisement might not attract the “right” customers, those who will never become loyal ones. You should keep it in mind. Try to make your advertising give you a bigger return by focusing on loyal clients more.
Strategy 5. Get rid of last year ideas. Advertising agencies like to repeat the same ad campaigns and use the same ad materials from month to month, from year to year. Stop being boring! You should try something new every time. You are not the same as you were last year, so this is not enough. Look at last-year you as the main competitor. And defeat it! There are so many new opportunities for you to advertise - advertising games, guerrilla marketing and so on.
Strategy 6. Client is what your advertisement should be about. Not your product, or your company, and, of course, not you. Brand building… positioning… sounds cool… People like to talk about it these days, to the point of paying to much attention to it. But the simple truth is that your client is the star. When you talk to brand managers, service managers, developers and so on, they never mention the client. They say: “We have a great product, great service, or famous brand.” Ask them: “Ok, so what? Where are the clients?” What brings you profit – no GMO in your food or maybe chargeable service for 5 years, or pretty logo? Bullshit. It’s the client, client brings you profit. Then why do you completely neglect him when you work on an advertising strategy? Why don’t you involve people who know your client into the process instead of those who don’t? Do you know anything about your client? How do they live? What do they like and what annoys them? Without understanding of your client you won’t be able to create efficient advertising campaign.
Strategy 7. Communicate to your clients one-on-one. All your advertising efforts should be focused on unique requirements and demands of a specific client. If your advertising strategy is to place a TV commercial, I will disappoint you, TV and all the other mass media is not as efficient as it used to be. People got so used to commercials they don’t pay attention to it. If you want to attract attention, you should focus on one-on-one communication via an effective advertising channel. For example, you don’t communicate with your spouse in the same way as with your children, or friends, or parents. We use different communication strategies for different types of people. The same applies to advertising. You should find a way to get the message through to different people and to appeal to them personally. Take selection of means of communicating your message seriously. This will guarantee you are attracting only the “right” clients from your target audience.
Strategy 8. Advertising must have substantial results. Every time you hold an advertising or promotional campaign, you should the biggest possible bang for your buck. Try it out. Don’t start an ad campaign (especially around the country) before you try it out and get feedback. Remember that direct communication is the most effective. Whether it is digital, telemarketing, direct mail, merchandizing, exhibition, advertising game or anything else, to reach the client directly, you should talk to them one-on-one.
Mass market approach is getting obsolete. Why TV, radio and other mass media are not as effective as they used to be?
Now you should talk to the client one-on-one. With a direct advertising strategy you can let your creativeness loose and engage cutting edge technology.
Strategy 9. Forget about brand, focus on communication with the client. We are talking about theoretical and practical branding, there is a substantial difference between them. The difference is which of them is bringing in profit. To fall for the brand people should know it and interact with it.
Branding has much more to it than just a logo. This is more than just a pretty package. This is experience, relationship, emotion. For example, you have bought an unbelievably expensive Swiss watch. You put them on, and they look amazing on you. But you haven’t thrown away the box. It is made of a soft material that is nice to touch. You open and close the box. It seems attractive to you.
You see what I mean? The package of the watch has become an essential part of the brand and added some significance to it.
Strategy 10. Clients have their own preferences on advertising channel. Our job is to point them towards the one they should choose. The goal is not to shower random advertising messages on their heads. It is not even the point of what channels we use, the point is what we want to communicate and when we do it. For example, you are offering knitting workshops. You want offer your clients to take part in one of them. You can call them once or twice a month. But if you do it more often, then they will get puzzled or frustrated. So the thing you should do is to ask them how they would like to receive information about the latest offers and updates: if they’d prefer to receive an email, or a leaflet, or a call. Every client has their own communication preferences. You should find them out and use them.
Strategy 11. Existing clients go first, then everybody else. Clients are people who have bought your product before. If you are offering your product for the first time, first of all, you should offer it to those people who are most likely to buy it. We hear a lot about target audiences lately. But when there is a target market, there is a smaller group – people who are ready to buy RIGHT NOW. This is very important to filter them out and focus on them. The more specific you get, the smaller your advertising expenses will be. When you are trying to talk to everybody, advertising gets expensive. Make it easier, pick the fruits that are closest to you. I know you know it.
But the problem is that 99% of advertisers don’t do it. Do you want to know why such advertising companies don’t work? Because they are overloaded with information and advertising tricks to the point of being ridiculous. Focus on a specific target audience to get substantial results.
Strategy 12. Be easily available for your clients. Direct advertising campaign should be held in a place where your client can buy your product. Can you guarantee that you will be there when your client needs you? If you can’t, your clients will get frustrated. For example, if you are offering some services and your client can’t reach you by phone or has to wait 20 minutes on hold, if you fail to resolve all their questions immediately, or fail to send an email with the information they want or need, then you are not easily available for clients. And they will go looking for another provider.
Strategy 13. Think about tomorrow. Advertising and everything about it is constantly changing, it’s always on the move. What you do today is not good enough for tomorrow. When you think about future, you will always have fresh ideas. In this case advertising will bring you tons of profit.