Advertising Strategy Snags My Attention

January 15, 2007

For those of you that read this blog often, you know I tend to write more about online advertising than print advertising. Online advertising comes in so many forms and is so easy to track. I do plan plenty of print advertising each year, but mainly use the medium for branding – keeping our name out there in front of our audience that prefers magazines.

I’m an avid reader of personal finance and small business magazines and over the last year I’ve seen a rise in print advertisements in which advertisers make their one-page ad look like an article or case study of sorts. An example is shown below from Kiplinger’s magazine. On the left side is the last page of an article and on the right is an advertisement for long-term care coverage.

Now, why am I writing about this? Well, for the last year, I’ve shook my head and moved quickly past these ads figuring that this was a wasted effort by the advertiser – until I came to the page shown above. They tricked me and it worked! I recently had a conversation with relatives about long-term coverage and when I saw the page I thought it might be an informative article I could pass on. I breezed right over the small “Advertisement” tag at the top. The article was somewhat informative but got me thinking about the topic again.

So, I stand corrected. Print advertisements like this may have a place. I was so intrigued I actually searched the small print at the bottom and found MetLife was the advertiser. I went to Google and searched on ‘long term care coverage’ and sure enough, MetLife had a paid search ad there offering quotes on coverage.

Now, I’m not in the market for long-term coverage, but I have relatives who are. With many aging baby boomers, this is a hot topic and the ad provided a reason to look for more information. MetLife did a good job of throwing information out and then backing up the ad with a paid search ad offering a quote. Good strategy!

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Don’t Like The Ad? Put Your Shoes On It

January 12, 2007

I always enjoy reading about or seeing a creative idea taking advantage of one of the last places on earth where we’re not touched by some kind of media. This time those infamous security bins at the airport in which we load every aspect of our lives for examination before heading to our gate to catch our plane will soon be infiltrated with advertising. Some people will be annoyed by this, but I say, why not? In fact, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it!

If you’re interested in reading more behind the effort, check out this USA Today article. Here’s what might be in store for our shoes in the near future.

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You may be asking what this has to do with small business? Probably, not much. But, it does show us that there are still unique, creative places left to buy advertising space.


Search and Display: Mix It Up

January 2, 2007

I’ve written in previous posts about the right marketing mix. By that I mean the melding of various mediums of marketing into one cohesive plan. Whether it be print advertising, search marketing, banner advertising, etc – its the art of bringing it all together in one marketing plan. Well, because I think its so important and also because we’re starting a new year and a new media plan, I’m throwing out more information on the topic.

A recent article on the Marketing VOX website discussed the results of two recent studies on display and search advertising and the effects that one has on the other. One of the reports described was done by ClickZ News and they say:

“…found that online users exposed to both the search and display advertising campaigns purchased the advertiser’s products and services 244 percent more online and 89 percent more offline compared with users not shown the ads.”

I love seeing numbers like these. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a huge fan of print advertising, but I know that its a necessary expense for many companies due to its large impact on branding. Print advertising is costly and takes up a size-able percentage of an overall marketing budget, but when you see how one medium can impact another, you can more than justify the expense.

Now, does this mean you can go out and run print and search ads, let them run, and you’re on your way to an early retirement. No way! In order to achieve the success found in those studies, your messaging and strategy need to be consistent throughout. The mix between your display and online should support and strengthen each other and your overall message.


Online Ad Prices on the Rise?

December 28, 2006

I found a quick stat about online advertising revenues and 2007 prices written on the iMedia Connection website by Roger Park. The article states that rates will be on the rise for 2007. I’ve planned and signed orders for most of my online media for 2007 and I really haven’t seen much of an increase. I buy primarily in the tech arena and most of my pricing has carried over from this year.

One trick I live by is to ask for better pricing based on quantity and other media being purchased. For instance, if I’m buying print ads, I’ll hint to the vendor that I want to do something online (email marketing, banner ads, etc.) and flat out ask for better pricing since I’m purchasing print ads. Most vendors are willing to negotiate and the good ones get me to spend more in the end. But, the bundling seems to help lower costs.


Marketing in 2007: Selecting the Right Marketing Mix

December 22, 2006

I’ve written in previous posts about selecting the right marketing mix – online advertising, email marketing, print advertising, search marketing, etc. The selection is purely based on how many times you can touch your target audience in the shortest period of time.

This article in Entrepreneur magazine by Kim Gordon of www.smallbusinessnow.com talks about “All Over the Place” marketing. She gives a great overview of how many times people come in contact with media per day. This media contact frequency gives all of us small business marketers a chance to touch our target audience by selecting the right media.


Advertising Proposals Throwing Curves

December 11, 2006

I’m in the middle of analyzing and signing a ton of print and online advertising contracts for 2007. The whole process has officially given me a headache this year. While I enjoy researching new mediums in which to advertise our products, wading through all the options available can be maddening.

With that said, I have a few observations this year that are unique to other years I’ve been doing this.

I’m being proposed more print and online bundled solutions from vendors and my pricing is based on CPI (cost per impression). I’m used to analyzing online marketing by impressions and click-throughs, but not print. After you untangle the mess of a proposal you see that these vendors are bundling their online with their print and jacking up their impressions with their print readership statistics.

These proposals are more common from magazines who were built on print ad sales and are having a tough time selling online ads because their websites don’t get the traffic that more online-centric websites and publications do. You need to be careful not to jump at the total impression method of proposing. I don’t believe it accurately depicts what you’re buying.

White Papers, White Papers, and more White Papers. Obviously, White Paper syndication is hot. For those of you not familiar, White Paper syndicators will post your WP content and pass along contact information for people who register to download the content. Its a great source of lead generation. The people who register to receive the content – you would think – are genuinly interested in what you have to offer.

Well, many vendors are now a WP syndicator and vendors are offering discounts on print and online marketing if you post your WPs with them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of this method of distributing your content – BUT, I don’t have any fresh content! I’m also a believer that that your content needs to be informative, fresh and loaded with the latest information – otherwise the reader may think you’re company is old news.

The folks over at My Educated Guess have a post up today talking about successful syndication. They also have a variety of other quality posts talking about White Papers.


Don’t Forget About 2006 Just Yet

November 28, 2006

For me, the budgeting and planning time has begun for 2007. I’m in the process of selecting the marketing media mix for next year. What mediums should I use? How heavily should we market online versus in print? Am I really going to spend this much on search engine marketing? All are questions I’m grappling with as I try to put together our plan for 2007.

First, and probably most important, is looking at the results from 2006. What is a future plan without reviewing the past? I’ve been breaking down the results of different online and offline activities in 2006 to see which provided positive results and which just ate up my budget. My 2006 plan included a combination of online ads, search engine marketing, and a targeted print ad campaign.

I have a post planned down the road covering my views on print advertising. I definitely lean towards online marketing, but realize print is an important component of presenting your brand and keeping it in the minds of our customers. Unfortunately, results are harder to track. There is the 1-800 numbers or specialized URLs that a reader could use to contact you. I’ve tried those and the results haven’t been strong enough to tell me that we should cancel our ad or spend more with that certain magazine. Was that because of poor ad copy or wrong placement? The variety of magazines from which we choose is limited so picking a wrong magazine would be tough. But, this is a discussion for my post down the road on print advertising.

Next, I look at my online mediums. Search Engine Marketing – largely Google Adwords – is a big generator of website traffic and lead conversions. I have to admit – I’m biased towards SEM because it is a fascinating medium in which to advertise your products or services. I’m hooked! Again, I have a post in the very near future on this that will go in-depth. My next post will actually be a teaser into the subject with links to some of my favorite blogs and online SEM and SEO information sources. As for analyzing this year, I focus on conversions and CTR by keyword and ad group. Conversions for me equal a lead generated via form on a landing page or, in some cases, a conversion equals at least 4 pages viewed by someone coming to the site from one of my ads. Conversions, CTR, and how deep a user went into our site will determine how I approach our campaigns in 2007

Other online mediums include banner ads, text links, webinars, etc. Positive results for me are high CTR, high page views, and lead generation. Those that didn’t hit my expected CTR will not be a part of my 2007 plan (keeping in mind I’ve tried various messaging with little success). Those I think can hit the CTR I want, but need adjusted ad copy will get another chance in 2007. And those that met my expectations will most likely see an increase in frequency.

Once all of my data is completed, I begin selecting my marketing mix for 2007. The mediums won’t change much, the amount and frequency of each will shift. For a small company on a limited budget results are key and the main deciding factor in future marketing spends. There isn’t the budget for a ton of experimenting so we need to focus on what works for us. But, what about blogs, RSS feeds, etc….? Phew, its a lot to digest but to stay competitive we need to get there.