First Byte - Adding another dimension to blog posts! First Bytes are short narrative summaries or additions to the post itself.
Over the years I've heard so many photographers talk about advertising as if it was some strange new food they tried and just didn't like. Look, my Dad is 92 and hates lima beans, but that doesn't mean he gave up eating!
Let's see if we can come up with some things to make your next advertising experience a little more positive! Many of the suggestions I have are going to be related to print advertising, but don't forget, the same logic applies to most Internet properties as well. (I'm using magazine and newspaper advertising, because many of you, especially wedding and family portrait artists, get hit by the sales reps of local magazines all the time.)
"We advertised once..." The whole statement is absurd. If you only ran an ad in a particular publication once you wasted your money, no matter how good a rate you had. Why? Just about every authority I've ever read has talked about a minimum of running an ad three times. Think about how much noise there is in our lives. You have to build awareness and consumer recall isn't going to happen with just a one time run.
Poor Results: You need to find out why your ad didn't pull well. Was it confusing? Was there too much copy? Did you hit the consumer with something exciting or could it have put a rock to sleep? Did your ad match the demographics of the magazine? Was there a sense of urgency for your target audience to respond?
Location, Location, Location: You've heard the expression as it relates to commercial real estate, but advertising in a magazine is no different. Where was your ad in the publication? A lot of companies believe the forward third of the book is more prime than anywhere else. Obviously, the inside and back covers are strong, but there are some other great locations...for example, opposite the Table of Contents or dead center of the magazine, if there's a tip in subscription card or some other piece of literature.
Fractional vs Full Page: A full page ad will always drive your ego, but will it drive traffic to your business? I'm a huge fan of fractional ads, but used in multiples on sequential pages. I learned this lesson from the master himself, Bruce Landau, who sadly we lost many years ago. Bruce was the VP at Bogen back then and almost always ran multiple third page ads, typically three in a row on the right hand page. It was incredibly effective and gave him as much, if not more bang for the buck than many of the big companies running full page spreads.
Leveraging Editorial: Many of you get approached all the time by reps offering a great rate in local magazines and publications. They'll cut what seems like a great deal, but you can make it even better. Let them know you're interested in advertising, but you'd also like some editorial support. There are so many opportunities - a profile story about your business, a story about a particular application you specialize in or an article about a community fund-raiser you're involved with. Editorial in any publication has room to be less objective, as long as there's something newsworthy in the story.
Ask to see the demographics: You need to know who the readership is before you spend your money. For example, if you were a cosmetic company launching a new nail polish would you advertise in "Guns and Ammo"? Anybody who says "yes", lock up for the day and just go home. For the rest of you, pay attention to the readership of the magazine. We know that women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. If that's where your expertise lies, then you want to be advertising in publications that reach women. The same applies to children and family photographers, fine art photographers etc. Every specialty has its own audience with a few that overlap.
An ad is only one part of the equation. A print ad or online ad with a particular company is only part of the story. Don't forget all the other components. This is where your blog comes in along with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Social media plays a huge role today in helping you expand your reach. And, don't forget the look and feel of your own website, community involvement and publicity in your community. Direct mail, if done right, is another strong component. The point is, you can never slow down on building your brand.