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Ooh, I’ve set myself a tough one this week.

Are you doing any print advertising for your business? If yes, where? Does it work for you? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear.

Today I’m talking specifically about hard copy, magazine or newspaper advertising, rather than online advertising; we’ll do that another day. I love Facebook adverts because they are so targeted, but, even though it’s out of fashion, I still believe print advertising has an important role to play. Especially if you are running a business which operates within a well-defined geographical area.

When I start out working with a new client, the first thing I do is to create a marketing plan. When we’ve agreed the strategy for achieving their business goals, we then roll it out together. Part of the process of creating the plan is the research that goes behind it. I spend many hours conducting dream client research, competitor research, customer research, a social audit, and doing a marketing review.

When we get to the marketing review part, my client often says: I had an advert, but it didn’t do anything. I never got any calls from it, so I cancelled it.

Now, I know that advertising is expensive (never pay the card rate by the way, it’s just a starting bid) but, even if you aren’t getting new customers ringing up saying: ‘I saw your advert….’, it’s still likely to be working for you more than you realise.

There are lots of things that you can do to assess whether your advert is working, and if it’s not why it’s not, but I’ll get into that in next week’s post – Why Isn’t My Advert Converting? Part II (The Wrath of Khan).

But first, a little primer on advertising, because adverts don’t always work how you expect them to. The bad news: unless a prospect happens to be leafing through the village magazine the very minute water starts pouring through his roof, it’s unlikely that he’s going to drop everything and phone you because he’s seen your roofing advert.

Sorry, but marketing is more subtle. Imagine your prospect’s brain has a pigeon hole for each service or product they might want to buy. In each pigeon hole is a series of dots that connect up like a dot-to-dot picture. Once the dots are connected for each picture, the prospect has allocated an official provider in that category.

Here’s an example. You’re a hairdresser,  looking for new customers. You should be on the lookout for people who don’t currently have a completed picture in their ’hairdressing pigeon hole’. In other words, they aren’t happy with their current supplier.

Just seeing your advert in their local paper isn’t going to be enough to make them pick up the phone and book in. The dot-to-dot picture has to be completed to get a new customer to do that. The lines get drawn between the dots whenever the prospect has an interaction with your brand, and lots of the time this is happening subconsciously.

Seeing your ad might start the ball rolling, by connecting the first dot. Then, say, they pop into their local coffee shop and see your flyer in a stand; it looks good, so the second dot gets connected.

That Friday night, they go to a school fundraiser – a mums’ pamper party. Your team of hairdressers is there offering blow-dries.  The mums look amazing! Third dot connected. Over the weekend your prospect meets up with an old friend and asks, “Where do you get your hair done?”

Bingo. Fourth dot connected, the picture is completed. You receive their phone call to book a new appointment on Monday.

Your prospect might not mention that they saw your ad, but it was a key part of the process – whether consciously remembered or not.

Having an advert is one key part of connecting the dots in your prospect’s head so that they chose you as their supplier of choice for your product or service, when they need it.

When you try to analyse the business that is coming directly from an advert, it may seem expensive, but you have to factor in the people who don’t even realise they’ve seen it. And, remember that your absence from a local paper may speak volumes about whether your business is still a going concern.

Don’t forget to let me know where you are advertising and if you think it’s working in the comments!

Three Steps That Bring Order To Chaos

Why Isn’t My Advert Converting? Part 2