Thursday, May 17, 2007

Getting more bang for your small business advertising buck. Judette Coward-Puglisi

This week I got a congratulatory call from the CEO of Stechers, Sheena Thorpe. My company produced a series of ads for her luxury stores’ bridal registry and she was happy to report an excellent consumer response. The success of the Stechers campaign had to do with a couple of factors. The design was clean. The product was hero. The message was simple. But there was another success factor; working with an exceptional media planner we determined which audience would receive the messages and what mediums would be most appropriate to them.

Not all businesses strike the right advertising note. In fact, I was having lunch 2 months ago with my friend, an advertising manager of a large service company and she were commiserating how her advertising strategy had failed – in her post campaign research only one in four of those surveyed remembered the messages in her ads.
Her dismay was a striking reminder that the advertising/marketing mix is difficult if you don’t understand the framework necessary for analysis.

1. Share of Voice
Whenever clients have an advertising dilemma, the first question I ask is do they understand their share of voice. Most of them don’t but it is a fundamental starting point. To arrive at the percentage of the total exposure for all business in their category, I ask them how much of the total signage is theirs. I also ask for the details about their TV, radio and print advertising. I also like to get the below the line details like their web traffic or the number of mentions their brand had in a news story as opposed to a competitor. Understanding the numbers makes them aware of their total share of voice and if they need to ramp it up simply because they are not visible in the market place.
In Stechers case, while her share of voice was not high it wasn’t important that it should be. After all, how many customers can afford an $8, 0000 crystal owl as a decorative piece. Not many. So be effective Thorpe was advised to buy more repetition for her ads but get it from fewer suppliers in the media chain i.e. increase her share of voice to the prospective buyers with targeted media buying.

2. Impact Quotient
Advertising fails for only two reasons. The ads are either reaching too many people with too little repetition or delivering a message that no one cares about. Let me give you an example. At Mango Media Caribbean, we provide a myriad of services under the umbrella of strategic communications and brand development. Last year, we wanted to increase the quantity of editorial projects we were executing so we came up with a message that addressed the fact that many smart business people who are not gifted writers have i.e. they get stuck writing the first sentence of their report, proposal etc.. Our ad began with the question: “Stuck for words?” and was supported by graphic design of someone doodling as they were trying to write. The impact of that ad was great. Our audience could relate to it easily and quickly and because they did our editorial work rose by 80%. So the question is how impressive is your advertising message? Does your audience care about what you’re saying. Does your audience understand what you’re saying? To generate sales your ad must look good and reach the right target message but first of all it must first be believable and it must deliver on what it promises, which brings me to my next point of your brand promise and the personal experience factor.

3. Personal Experience Factor
Have you ever seen a really good ad for a clothing sale, one that touted the store’s high quality designer wear but in fact sold designer knock offs. Chances are if you went to the store because of the ad and were disappointed because of its false promises, you probably wouldn’t return. In essence unimpressive products or services nullify impressive ads, especially in an era of word of mouth selling. A strong ad will only temporarily prop up a business that delivers a weak personal experience factor. Remember: your ad must create genuine impressions of what you’re selling.
If you haven’t been as successful as you’d like try examining your advertising through the lenses of share of voice, impact quotient and personal experience factor, that way you can get back your campaigns back on track quickly.

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