As always, Fast Food Fridays, especially with our new "menu" is meant to give you ideas to help you build a stronger business. I've been sharing these since February, and each "blue plate" special has offered help on a different aspect of your business.
Thanks to Excire, we expanded the menu in the SCU diner offering bigger entrees. Posts with more details also mean they take longer to enjoy but we're stepping away from fast food with concepts to help you increase reach and sales.
Today's special is a little different because we're serving up a plate about advertising. So many times over the years I've heard stories about wasted money and poor results.
Most often the problem is the business invested too much in just one type of advertising without looking at all the other things they should have been doing. The result is almost always too much money spent on one vehicle and no coordination through a few other channels for reach.
Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck With Advertising
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
Over the years I've heard so many photographers talk about advertising as if it was some strange new food they tried and didn't like. Look, my Dad hated lima beans, but that doesn't mean he gave up eating!
The same logic applies to virtually ALL publications regardless of whether they're an Internet or printed media. I know a lot of you, especially those of you who are wedding photographers, get hit for advertising in upscale local printed magazines. For today's special, when I use the word "publication" it covers everything from websites to printed magazines and newspapers.
"We advertised once, but..." 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 web publication? 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 publication is no different. Where was your ad in the publication? With magazines, a lot of companies believe the forward third of the book is more prime than anywhere else. On a website that changes, but the concept is still the same - maximum visibility. Obviously, with a magazine, 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 the industry sadly lost many years ago. When Bruce was the VP at Bogen he almost always ran multiple third-page ads, typically three in a row on the right-hand page. It was very effective and gave him as much, if not more bang for the buck than many of the big companies running full and double-page spreads.
Leveraging Editorial: Many of you get approached all the time by reps offering a great rate in local 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.
Don't forget about links to enhance your online presence. A publication offering additional exposure with links in solid relevant editorial can drive traffic to your site, just like a good magazine article can drive traffic to your front door. Again, make it part of the negotiating process.
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 go home. For the rest of you, pay attention to the readership of the publication. 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.
Advertising is just one part of the marketing equation. A print or online ad with a particular company followed by inactivity in any other area will never accomplish as much as it could.
Don't forget all the other components as shown on the right. Print and Internet advertising are only two of the areas targeting consumers.
This is where your blog comes in along with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, 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 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 and for any campaign, you need 3-6 of the elements in the illustration above to be effective.
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.