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Five Fundamentals for Advertising

As various new marketing channels have risen to significance, advertising (both print and online) has continued to chug along, helping marketers provide information in a more detailed and more openly promotional (at times) manner than the online world often finds permissible. In a world with short attention spans, print advertisements still present a clear branding opportunity. They also offer the advantage of “shelf life” in that print ads can be accessed over and over. This is quite a contrast to a tweet, for example, which may only have a “shelf life” of three minutes. While some may think that the golden age for advertising has come to an end, the fact is that advertising remains a powerful and relevant way to get your marketing message to your audience. Here are five fundamentals for a successful advertising campaign.

1. Consider who you are targeting

Before one considers what type of advertising might work best to reach your desired target, you first must settle on who your target market is. Are you attempting to reach existing customers to inform them about improvements to your product? Are you trying to reach potential prospects who should be interested in your products? If you are considering a print component to your campaign, leaf through some of the industry publications. The type of editorial and ads in the publication should clue you in as to how others are approaching the market. Make sure the copy and message of your ad is consistent with the target you are trying to reach, i.e. engineers look for more technical copy whereas top management might prefer a “less is more” approach.

2. Make sure you measure

This will be a fundamental aspect of almost every tactic we’re going to discuss in this series. It’s no secret that we are living in an era of accountability. Do not accept the idea that advertising, including print advertising, cannot be measured. In fact, there are numerous ways to track how your advertising campaign is performing. With our own clients, we’ve seen the use of special landing pages – URLs that can only be accessed by typing that specific URL into a browser. By tying a special URL to a specific ad, you can track with greater accuracy how many potential leads that ad is driving. With CRM software and web analytics, you can track the behavior of that special URL visitor and determine how many leads convert to sales. We’ve also seen clients use a dedicated email address and even unique phone numbers.

3. Have an objective

Too often, ads appear in a way that can best be described as haphazard, either in terms of the ad’s design, the ad’s placement, or where the ad links to if it’s an online ad. Make sure you have a clear objective that you want your advertising to fulfill. If you are introducing a new product, perhaps you want to set a goal of your ad creating a certain number of sample requests. If you are promoting a white paper or a webinar, make sure that your creative and your ad placement appeal to the people in your audience who would want that kind of content. Your objective will guide every important decision you will ultimately make about the ads you use in your campaign.

4. Understand the importance of selecting audited publications 

When considering the print part of your campaign, remember the importance of selecting audited publication where possible. Audited publications  (BPA Worldwide  and ABC are the two leaders) provide the confidence of knowing that the target audience you are trying to reach actually qualify for and receive the publication.

Even if your ad showcases the best creative in the industry, if the right people are not seeing it, it will not do you any good. Rather than advertise in publications just because they have the lowest cost or the largest circulation, advertise in the publications that offer the BEST circulation for your specific audience.

5. Weighing the benefits of frequency versus dominance

Some advertisers like to pepper away at their audience on a monthly basis to make sure their message gets through (we call that frequency). Others like to do the big splash (think Super Bowl). We call that dominance. Both approaches have merit.

Typically, if you have to choose between the two, general advertising principles dictate that a strong program built on frequency is better use of your budget than a big splash but if your big splash is around the biggest trade show of the year where all of your customers and prospects are going to be, than dominance may be the right prescription. As with most things in life, this issue is not black and white. Each case must be reviewed on the merits of each approach to see which is right for your company.

In the online world, remember that impressions are not the magic number you are looking for, even though that is a number many publications will promote to you. Impressions are simply the number of eyeballs that saw your ad. To accurately measure an online advertising campaign, it’s again helpful to dedicate a special landing to the advertising effort and then track that person’s behavior as they navigate through your website.

These are just five fundamentals to consider when thinking about your advertising campaign. If you have any questions about any of these ideas, just let us know!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hectoralejandro/3967217852/ via Creative Commons

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