New and Cheap Advertising Ideas

When you are in the business world then your major aim is always to surge ahead of your competitors. It is important that your product is of high quality but it is also important to advertise it so that it reaches every household. You can take the example of mobile phone producers. Normally two products have got the same kind of features but the one with higher sales is the one which is well known as compared to the other one. What is being emphasized here is that you need to speak out loud about the product you are offering and that can be done through the proper implementation of  advertising  ideas.  Advertising  is the key to your success in the business.

Generally our conception about the  advertising  is limited to the big banners we see on the roadsides, in the malls and the large scale advertisements in the electronic as well as print media. With the rising popularity of the internet, the pops ups and advertisements on the websites are also now part of the  advertising  industry. For the big business houses these are standard mode of  advertising  but for the smaller businessmen it is a no-no thing because of the higher budgets. There is no need to get disheartened because these are not the only  advertising  ideas or ways to promote your product. Distributing pamphlets, use of salesperson are also the cheap and effective ways of  advertising . One needs to understand that anything that will make sure that the customer gets to know about your product is a way of  advertising .

To name a few of the cheap and better  advertising  ideas you can count on distributing the pamphlets and flyers in the areas that are in your reach. Through these flyers you can also distribute the discount coupons. These coupons will get the people discussing your product and the contemporary wisdom says that the word of mouth is still the best way to go about the  advertising .

In modern times internet has become such a powerful medium that you can achieve unbelievable results with its reach. You can make a website detailing your product or service. Along with this also make use of the various social networking websites like Facebook, orkut etc. by dedicating a page on them to your product. If you can further spend a little more time you can also make a monthly newsletter relating to your product and send a mass email to the people. In the newsletter make sure that you detail all the good things about your product and also offer some good discounts. This is sure to set some of the tongues waging.

Make yourself a regular member of the business sittings in your locality. Discuss about your product with other people. They might give you some nice  advertising  ideas. The more you keep your eyes and ears open the more you are bound to gain. Project yourself as the key player in the niche of your product and make sure that your product as though it is the only viable option available in the market. These  advertising  ideas are sure to make your project a hit in the market.

Strategic Advertising for Real Estate Agents

“99% of  advertising  doesn’t sell a thing.”

Sounds like something a local real estate agent might say after paying for yet another ad that didn’t produce, right?

You might be surprised to learn that the quote actually belongs to David Ogilvy, legendary founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful  advertising  agencies.

Yikes – if a man regarded as a giant in the ad industry is so negative about  advertising’s  success rate, how should you feel?

The Bad News is the Good News…

There is an upside here. If so much of the  advertising  in your local market is ineffective, you can gain a significant edge on your competition by having a better local  advertising  strategy than other agents.

 Advertising  vs.  Advertising  Strategy

Notice that I said a better  advertising  STRATEGY, not simply better  advertising . There’s a big difference.

A better ad might get you a few more leads in the short term. A better  advertising  strategy can help you to have a consistent, meaningful message in your  advertising , and will position you to get more business from your local market on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you define your  advertising  strategy, and put it into action:

1) Have a Strategic Objective In Mind BEFORE you Advertise

 Advertising  for the sake of “building awareness” is probably the fastest way to flush your  advertising  dollars away.

Before you even think about buying an ad, you must have a strategic objective in mind – after all, why should you pay for any type of ad unless it helps you to reach your objective.

Here are just a few questions that you might ask yourself before placing an ad to help define what you want your  advertising  strategy to do for you:

– If I could be known for just one thing in my local market, what would it be?

– Which part of the local real estate market is not currently well serviced by other agents? Is there potential in this neighborhood/age group/demographic profile?

– Which part of the local market is emerging and might be a driving force for sales in future years?

– What’s changing in my market right now – immigration, aging population, young families moving in, etc – and how do I capitalize on the change more effectively than my competitors?

If you can answer even some of these questions, you will probably be on your way to identifying the basis for an  advertising  strategy.

For example, you may determine that based on trends and current prices, your market will become increasingly popular with first time homebuyers. As a result, your strategic objective may be to use your  advertising  to become recognized as the local expert in serving first time homebuyers.

2) Have a Specific Objective for Each Ad you Place within your Strategy

With a clear objective as part of your  advertising  strategy, you can now think about investing in ads that support your objective.

Here’s a tip – you can create  advertising  that generates an immediate response while also serving to build your brand in a particular market.

Continuing with the above example, if you ran a series of ads in the local newspaper offering a free “First-Time Homebuyers Report” available from your website, you would actually be running a direct response ad (aimed at getting people to download the report) that also delivered a brand building message (the message being that you are the agent for first time homebuyers to call because you are the expert in that field).

You can measure the success of the ad by looking at the number of downloads from your site while the ad was running – since generating downloads was the specific objective of the ad. If the ads don’t generate enough downloads to justify the cost, pull them or change them. Ads are only valuable if they get you closer to achieving your strategic objective.

3) Be Consistent

All of your  advertising  (online, print, directory, flyers, etc) should be similar in both style and substance within your  advertising  strategy.

Yes, a consistent look and style for your ads is important to help you get recognized in a competitive market.

But even more important is being consistent when it comes to the messages in your ads. You can’t buy a Yellow Pages ad that promotes you as the leader in client service, and then advertise your “low low price” in the local newspaper, and then distribute flyers that try to promote you as the family real estate expert.

Your messages can’t conflict! Again, here’s where an  advertising  strategy comes in. With a strategic objective in mind for your  advertising , you will be able to focus your  advertising  dollars on communicating a single, clear message to potential clients about why they should call you.

An  Advertising  Strategy is Critical to your Success

If Mr. Ogilvy was right, then most of the advertisers out there in your real estate market are getting it wrong. This creates a huge opportunity for you to use an  advertising  strategy to drive business and outdo your competitors.

– Have a Strategic Objective for all of your  Advertising  – Know what you want to say about your business, and who you want to say it to within your local market.

– Have an Objective for Each Ad – Measure each ad’s results against the strategic objective you are trying to achieve – if you don’t, how will you know if the ads were successful or not?

– Be Consistent – Make sure all of your ads are focused on helping you reach your strategic objective by communicating a clear message to the market.

 Advertising  can be a tough game, but so can real estate. And in both cases, those with a well thought out strategy will almost always succeed over those that don’t have a plan.

Radio Advertising Commandments – Part 1

In my last article “Local  Advertising  – The Biggest Mistakes” we took a look at the major media available for local advertisers to market their products. To follow up, I’d like to discuss the many uses of Radio. Sort of the 10 Commandments Of Radio  Advertising . This will take up several pages, for sure, so I’ll start by asking the most obvious radio questions.

Q: How do I know if radio will work for me & why should I use radio?

A: I usually have gotten these questions when a client is afraid & can’t stomach the idea of paying for an Advertisement that they can’t physically hold on to. In other words, they think that if they can’t SEE their Ad, then no one else can. They seem to have a hard time believing that a disembodied radio voice can move people to buy their product.

Yes, it’s probably true that most advertisers get their feet wet with print  advertising . Your typical print advertiser will place an Ad in a local weekly or daily newspaper and bingo, the next day – traffic. The results can be quite immediate.

Radio is a different animal and although it can work as effectively as print, it can be equally disappointing to a seasoned print advertiser.

Local radio  advertising  can turn off a new advertiser who expects immediate results, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 10 reasons why “immediate results” are hard to come by:

1) the spots were not aggressive enough

2) the offer was not strong enough

3) there was not enough weight (number of spots) booked

4) the wrong local radio station was used to reach the desired market

5) not enough radio stations were booked

6) only radio was used

7) spots were poorly placed throughout the day

8) the production was poorly executed or the wrong announcer used

9) timing of the campaign was off

10) the new client had no name recognition

This brings me to Commandment #1

Don’t Underestimate The Power of Radio.

The voice is a wonderful thing.

Used properly, it can move you to tears, unleash a fury of anger, sooth both physical and mental pain, irritate you like chalk on a blackboard, hypnotize you into the most embarrassing behaviour, fire you up & motivate you to accomplish the most daunting tasks, fire up a nation to battle, seduce the most cold-hearted soul and yes, it can certainly convince you to happily part with your money.

In fact, the people who make radio production their livelyhood, are paid quite handsomely to get you to do things that are not on your priority list.

Ever listen to a movie trailer? Listen to the announcer. His job is to get you to see that movie. Whether you realize it or not, the impact of that voice lasts longer than you may be aware of.

You may remember the visuals, but it is the EMOTIONAL AUDIO IMPRINT that leaves you with a “I’ve got to see this when it comes out!” memory.

It is the same subliminal effect that radio can create.

The problem faced, is that most radio production quality can often be sub-standard.

Let’s face it – the radio station copywriters are under the gun to write & produce dozens of spots a day & there just isn’t enough time to write super creative & dynamic commercials. Even if the copywriter can squeeze out something really hot, there is often a lack of voice-over talent to make it happen. Let’s not talk about the studio engineer’s backlog!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have an effective radio spot come out of a radio station. It just means that to make it more effective, you may have to go to a third party production house to get your spots professionaly produced.

This brings me to Radio Commandment #2

Get The Best Creative Production Possible

Why do you want the best creative possible? Well, there are several reasons.

1) it makes your  advertising  more effective

2) the cost of your campaign can actually be lower if more people respond to a better commercial, as fewer spots are necessary to make the same impact

3) better creative is more memorable.

4) strong creativity entertains and sells at the same time

5) powerful creative radio spots get people talking about the spot & consequently the product

“OK,” you’re saying, “but this sounds like it’s going to cost a fortune!”

Nothing could be further from the truth. What will cost you a fortune, is a radio  advertising  campaign that falls flat because the production was not up to scratch!

Remember,  advertising  is an investment if you eventually get back more than you paid. It’s a fortune if you don’t get back anything!

In order to make sure that there’s a payback, I highly recommend you look at all the variables and creative production is high on the list!

This brings me to Radio Commandment #3

Develop A Strategy & Stick With It

There are many ways to use radio. Short campaigns, long campaigns, image building, promotions, product launches etc.

The first thing to be aware of is that new advertisers have to develop name recognition with a station’s audience. This isn’t as important for long time advertisers who have used other media, but it is crucial for first-timers.

Well known advertisers are seen as reliable and trustworthy. The longer you advertise, the more favour you win with listeners. It is like money in the bank.

I advise all new advertisers to start with an introduction campaign to highlight who they are, what their product is and the benefits of shopping at their store.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules and have a grand opening with a fantastic door crasher special. Certainly that will work. But ideally, the best results for that type of scenario come when a “teaser campaign” precedes the grand opening.

Let me state that much of the advice offered here is what I believe to be the “safe route” to effective radio  advertising . Even under less optimal conditions, radio can be quite effective!

What you want to do, however, is not succeed by throwing tons of money into your  advertising , but rather cover all the essentials so that you have an effective and cost efficient campaign.

Good planning can go a long way.

In my next article I’ll continue with commandment #4

Use The Right Music Bed

Pixel Advertising: Fad or Trend?

Pixel  advertising  is an innovative marketing concept introduced by 22-year-old Alex Tew that allows advertisers to buy  advertising  space on a per-pixel cost basis. The more pixels an advertiser buys, the larger their ad and the greater the chance that it will be clicked on. Selling one million pixels at $1 each, Alex’s Million Dollar Homepage has created quite a buzz in the news media and has easily reached its $1 million target.

Thanks to the stunning success of Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (MDHP), pixel ad sites have mushroomed all over the net. There are even commercial scripts that you can buy that will allow you to set up your own million-dollar homepage in less than 15 minutes. However, this does not mean you’ll make a million dollars…or even a thousand dollars…or even the cost of the script.

Alex Tew’s pixel  advertising  concept was simple, so simple that it eventually led many people to pound their heads on the wall repeating to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of this first?” But his idea was also novel and original. And because of its novelty it commanded a lot of attention (and free publicity) from the media.

Needless to say, no news organization will rush to report about a second million-dollar homepage, let alone one set up in 15 minutes with a purchased script. This is not to say, however, that there is no room in cyberspace for the second or third or even thousandth MDHP. In fact, there are presently at least a thousand MDHP clones hoping to capitalize on the pixel  advertising  craze. Many of them have managed to make a lot of money despite not being the original.

Some people view MDHP clones as little more than shameless imitations trying to leech off Tew’s original concept. This would be the case if his idea, while fun and original, has little use beyond his website.

On the contrary, the clones have proved quite the opposite. Their successes have demonstrated that Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage was worth much more than $1 million. Moreover, they have lend legitimacy to the concept of pixel .

While the original MDHP has made “internet history” (in Tew’s words) by achieving its $1 million goal, it is unlikely to become anything more than just a blip in internet history if the concept is not adopted and refined by others. In fact, most MDHP clones have achieved their riches not by ripping off Tew’s site verbatim, but by borrowing his pixel  advertising  concept and finding creative uses for it.

Far from being just a fad, pixel  advertising  holds an enormous promise as an alternative, cost-effective channel for online  advertising . But the concept is still in its infancy, and to avoid becoming internet history, it has to evolve. An important aspect of this evolution is how limitations inherent in the concept itself and in how pixel  advertising  is being used are addressed.

Perhaps the most obvious argument against pixel  advertising  is that its current use is largely limited to websites with seemingly useless clutters of ads with no content whatsoever. At best these sites offer advertisers little more than a source of non-targeted traffic.

An obvious solution to this is to incorporate pixel  advertising  into content-rich sites. Instead of selling pixel  advertising  exclusively through a site with nothing but a giant grid of picture ads, banner-sized pixel grids may be incorporated into a site with real content. A good example of this application is the relatively small and unobtrusive pixel panel placed on http://www.ezclassifieds.org/. Since most people go to ezClassifieds.org to post and look at ads, the site is an ideal place to offer pixel  advertising  to visitors. Obviously, incorporating pixel ads into content sites involves a lot more work than installing a ready-made script on a new domain. It involves developing a content-rich site and *then* offering pixel ads as an alternative to text links and traditional banner ads.

Used in this way, pixel ads are at the very least superior to traditional banner ads. Unlike traditional banners, a pixel banner may contain ads for several advertisers. Plus, pixel ads are not confined to predetermined shapes and sizes. Many pixel ad scripts will automatically resize images submitted by advertisers, eliminating the need to edit them to conform to the publisher’s requirements. Purchasing pixel ads is usually painless and often fully automated. Since most people have grown accustomed to ignore banner ads, pixel ads are likely to generate higher click-through rates.

Copyright 2006 Oudam Em

Most Effective & Inexpensive Form of Advertising

Through the years, inflatable  advertising  has proven to be an extremely efficient and attractive way to draw attention and acquire brand recognition. No longer does your mascot or brand logo need to be restricted to the flat and boring 2D plain of everyday  advertising .

By translating your concept to the inflatable form, your idea immediately gets the 3D puff of life and presence right before your eyes. There are now various companies that help transform the  advertising  idea you have in mind into an inflatable  advertising  campaign, by using high quality materials to make your vision come alive.

Inflatable products are of various kinds, such as Giant Inflatables, Inflatable Golf Packages, Inflatable costumes, Inflatable Tents, Holiday Inflatables, and such like.

For all practical purposes, inflatables are a very efficient and cost effective way to get across your message to your target audience with a solid force that will grab the attention of your potential customer almost immediately. Inflatable  advertising  is used to increase business and obtain a lot more attention, as compared to almost all other kinds of  advertising  methods. What’s more it is quite inexpensive!

 Advertising  inflatable products have come to be an excellent marketing tool for various kinds of venues, whether for high transfer business or for outdoor events. Over the years, innumerable companies have unanimously selected these inflatables as a hugely successful marketing tool.

For example,  advertising  balloons have become a highly cost effective means to get across your ideas. Imagine an idea of yours, or a brand logo imprinted on a giant sized Inflatable Balloon floating slowly in the sky. They can attract attention from miles away! Giant inflatables and  advertising  balloons create an excitement hard to duplicate, and that helps in creating a receptive mind among your customers.

Inflatable balloons, helium blimps and  advertising  inflatables, they come in all kind of different shapes and sizes, in order to attract the attention of customers. Different kinds of  advertising  balloons have the capability of attracting different prospects. Of course, it does depend upon your product too.

All you need to figure out is how to place them at strategic points in order to make your brands stand apart, and have customers completely infatuated by them.

To put it simply, the effectiveness of  advertising  inflatables lies in the statement, ‘when the balloon soars high, the sales dance up higher.’

People keep changing their preferences, and now it seems they are looking for something new. Something special! Inflatable marketing is just the tool of  advertising  to grab onto their attention. Surely, you must have come across various popular sports and caught the glimpse of colorful  advertising  balloons soaring high in the sky above. It is eye catching, largely interesting and incredibly cost effective. Most importantly, it is very innovative.

Inflatable marketing strives at making your product successful and stand out. Be pioneering, be smart and use Inflatable marketing. It is the next best thing among  advertising  solutions.

Print Advertising Vs Online Advertising

Online advertising has experienced such a rapid growth that many well known researchers are already predicting it will run into multiple billions of dollars in the near future. That certainly does not come as surprise as internet users are steadily increasing as well. Besides the increasing number of new users, the old ones are spending more and more time browsing the net. The realization that these numbers can run into staggering amounts is enough to inspire any entrepreneur to expose his business on the web. This situation will certainly have a tremendous effect on traditional print and media advertising. Print advertising versus online advertising is a dilemma that many companies are currently faced with.

There are thousands of budding businessmen and women that are internet savvy. Launching their company on the web is a logical step as this lucrative opportunity is simply too good to pass by. Advertising trends have clearly shifted from the traditional media to online. With the economy in the downturn situation as it is, research has shown that large companies are seriously cutting down on print advertising. The online option has proven to be more effective profit wise. The prospects of increased sales and the cost effectiveness of online advertising have also given many new hope of prosperity.

This is due to the fact that there are numerous benefits involved when purchasing online. Stressful situations like congested traffic, hunting for a parking space and long queues can be avoided. To top it all it can be done in the comfort and security of your home. There are disadvantages as well. Misleading advertisements that promote inferior products is a huge problem. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to make use of reputed dealers with secure web sites.

While online marketing is on the increase, the power of print advertising should certainly not be underestimated. The traditional brochure or flyer can in certain cases be much more effective than their online counterpart. The old methods cannot be written off that easily or entirely for that matter. Postcard and flyer marketing in the targeted neighborhoods can be very rewarding. This is a huge advantage that print advertising has over online advertising. Full-color brochures work wonderfully at meetings and events. There are quite a number of customers that do not have access to the World Wide Web. Sending out brochures to existing ones keeps them in touch with happenings in the business. Another area where it is advisable to use brochures would be on cold calling.

Through print media specific areas of business can receive direct mail and therefore ensure maximum turnover. Marketers can make constructive use of both options to make it work in their favor. Depending on your type of business, careful budget planning that includes all aspects of marketing strategies should be made. In this way you will not lose out and reap the highest benefit of the market. This is after all what marketing success stories are all about; skillful and cost-effective advertising campaigns.

What is Product Advertising?

Product  advertising  is a simple idea on paper; but like most things which appear simple at first blush, it can be an incredibly complex one in practice. The idea behind product  advertising  needs no explanation – it is simply presenting a product in the hopes of generating consumer interest. Where things become thornier is when it comes to deciding what benefit the product has to offer and to whom. Identifying a target market and finding the best way to reach these consumers can be challenging in itself. Not every media is ideal for getting your marketing message across to every audience.

The answer to how best to reach the target market often begins with a careful consideration of the product itself; who will use this product’ What are these people most likely to consider the biggest advantages of this product? From this, one can often decide on a strategy in terms of which media will provide their product advertisement which will make an impact on the largest number of consumers within this market, as well as helping to begin coming up with ideas on how to present the product as something which will improve the lives of these consumers.

Along with media placements which will be more likely to directly speak to the target market in question, most successful product  advertising  campaigns will also include  advertising  placements in media which reaches a general audience. After all, no matter how specialized of a niche market you are dealing with, these consumers also watch television; listen to the radio and so on.

Product  advertising  is something which can be so complex that most companies find it useful to engage the services of a marketing or  advertising  agency to handle the work of reaching the consumer. The company can then devote their resources elsewhere, while reaping the benefit of having  advertising  professionals on their side; professionals who know how to speak to consumers and get the company’s message across and have extensive experience in using various forms of media to make a favorable impression on consumers. This is a more cost effective model of product  advertising  for the product manufacturer and permits them to focus on their product and on serving the needs of their customer base.

Online Advertising

 Advertising  has moved much beyond the levels of print and point of contact  advertising . Today one of the world’s most effective  advertising  techniques is online  advertising . With the unparalleled rise in the World Wide Web, not only has it become one of the most targeted sections of  advertising , but at the same time it is also the most cost effective  advertising  process in the world.

Categories of online  advertising  could include such systems as banner ads, email marketing,  advertising  networks, online classified  advertising  and many other techniques. The procedures are simple, they are quick and the results are easily visible.

The greatest benefit of online  advertising  is that it knows no time and space boundaries. It is visible to anyone at anytime and geographical boundaries are no longer applicable. Another great advantage is that they can be targeted to specific groups or a relevant audience. Certain keywords will bring up the advertisements on the requisite pages, thus ensuring that you catch the eyeballs of people who are looking for similar content.

Google, due to its commanding position in the search engine world, is used as the benchmark for all  advertising  techniques and marketing strategies. If a company manages to do well with its Google  advertising , then it is guaranteed that the same techniques will achieve good results on other search engines also.

Google’s AdWords is one of the most basic systems of  advertising  on their search network. The AdWords reach only interested customers, since the ads pop-up only on relevant search pages. You can also reduce  advertising  costs tremendously since these are not very high priced ads. You can also alter them as and when needed, and judging from the evaluation charts you can make informed marketing decisions.

Online  advertising , especially banner  advertising  or ads on various sites should not be judged on the basis of the number of click throughs. An advertisement’s efficacy cannot be calculated according to the instantaneous results it generates. There is a great deal of recall value attached to ads, and similar to print media or TV advertisements, the results normally become evident only later. However what is essential is the placing of the advertisement, since the significance of the page it appears on is what determines the focus of the ad.

Over 13.6 billion searches take place in one month in the US alone. Out of these 9 billion of those searches are on Google. Hence the importance of Google as the main  advertising  destination cannot be underplayed. Every SEM company worth its salt will target Google searches for optimization, and online  advertising  companies will target their ads towards the 9 billion searches every month. Thus Google promotion packages are an inherent segment of every  advertising  strategy. These include not only  advertising  on Google search engines, using the specialized techniques developed by Google, but also  advertising  on other classified advertisement networks and directory listing sites which are ranked high on the search engine lists.

Online  Advertising  includes search engine marketing with Google AdWords, Yahoo SM and Microsoft Adcenter; it also includes buying banners from CPM ad networks as well as social media marketing.

The Top Five Secrets To Advertising Strategies – Starting With Your First Ad

Today, most advertising strategies focus on achieving three general goals, as the Small Business Administration indicated in Advertising Your Business:

1) promote awareness of a business and its product or services;

2) stimulate sales directly and “attract competitors’ customers”; and

3) establish or modify a business’ image. In other words, advertising seeks to inform, persuade, and remind the consumer. With these aims in mind, most businesses follow a general process which ties advertising into the other promotional efforts and overall marketing objectives of the business.

An advertising strategy is a campaign developed to communicate ideas about products and services to potential consumers in the hopes of convincing them to buy those products and services. This strategy, when built in a rational and intelligent manner, will reflect other business considerations (overall budget, brand recognition efforts) and objectives (public image enhancement, market share growth) as well. Even though a small business has limited capital and is unable to devote as much money to advertising as a large corporation, it can still develop a highly effective advertising campaign. The key is creative and flexible planning, based on an in-depth knowledge of the target consumer and the avenues that can be utilized to reach that consumer.

STAGES OF ADVERTISING STRATEGY

As a business begins, one of the major goals of advertising must be to generate awareness of the business and its products. Once the business’ reputation is established and its products are positioned within the market, the amount of resources used for advertising will decrease as the consumer develops a kind of loyalty to the product. Ideally, this established and ever-growing consumer base will eventually aid the company in its efforts to carry their advertising message out into the market, both through its purchasing actions and its testimonials on behalf of the product or service.

Essential to this rather abstract process is the development of a “positioning statement, a positioning statement explains how a company’s product (or service) is differentiated from those of key competitors. With this statement, the business owner turns intellectual objectives into concrete plans. In addition, this statement acts as the foundation for the development of a selling proposal, which is composed of the elements that will make up the advertising message’s “copy platform.” This platform delineates the images, copy, and art work that the business owner believes will sell the product.

With these concrete objectives, the following elements of the advertising strategy need to be considered: target audience, product concept, communication media, and advertising message. These elements are at the core of an advertising strategy, and are often referred to as the “creative mix.” Again, what most advertisers stress from the beginning is clear planning and flexibility. And key to these aims is creativity, and the ability to adapt to new market trends. A rigid advertising strategy often leads to a loss of market share. Therefore, the core elements of the advertising strategy need to mix in a way that allows the message to envelope the target consumer, providing ample opportunity for this consumer to become acquainted with the advertising message.

1. TARGET CONSUMER The target consumer is a complex combination of persons. It includes the person who ultimately buys the product, as well as those who decide what product will be bought (but don’t physically buy it), and those who influence product purchases, such as children, spouse, and friends. In order to identify the target consumer, and the forces acting upon any purchasing decision, it is important to define three general criteria in relation to that consumer, as discussed by the Small Business Administration:

1. Demographics-Age, gender, job, income, ethnicity, and hobbies.

2. Behaviors-When considering the consumers’ behavior an advertiser needs to examine the consumers’ awareness of the business and its competition, the type of vendors and services the consumer currently uses, and the types of appeals that are likely to convince the consumer to give the advertiser’s product or service a chance.

3. Needs and Desires-here an advertiser must determine the consumer needs-both in practical terms and in terms of self-image, etc.-and the kind of pitch/message that will convince the consumer that the advertiser’s services or products can fulfill those needs.

2. PRODUCT CONCEPT The product concept grows out of the guidelines established in the “positioning statement.” How the product is positioned within the market will dictate the kind of values the product represents, and thus how the target consumer will receive that product. Therefore, it is important to remember that no product is just itself, but, a “bundle of values” that the consumer needs to be able to identify with. Whether couched in presentations that emphasize sex, humor, romance, science, masculinity, or femininity, the consumer must be able to believe in the product’s representation.

3. COMMUNICATION MEDIA The communication media is the means by which the advertising message is transmitted to the consumer. In addition to marketing objectives and budgetary restraints, the characteristics of the target consumer need to be considered as an advertiser decides what media to use. The types of media categories from which advertisers can choose include the following:

o Print-primarily newspapers (both weekly and daily) and magazines.

o Audio-FM and AM radio.

o Video-Promotional videos, infomercials.

o World Wide Web.

o Direct mail.

o Outdoor advertising-Billboards, advertisements on public transportation (cabs, buses).

After deciding on the medium that is 1) financially in reach, and 2) most likely to reach the target audience, an advertiser needs to schedule the broadcasting of that advertising. The media schedule, as defined by Hills, is “the combination of specific times (for example, by day, week, and month) when advertisements are inserted into media vehicles and delivered to target audiences.”

4. ADVERTISING MESSAGE An advertising message is guided by the “advertising or copy platform,” which is a combination of the marketing objectives, copy, art, and production values. This combination is best realized after the target consumer has been analyzed, the product concept has been established, and the media and vehicles have been chosen. At this point, the advertising message can be directed at a very concrete audience to achieve very specific goals. There are three major areas that an advertiser should consider when endeavoring to develop an effective “advertising platform”:

o What are the product’s unique features?

o How do consumers evaluate the product? What is likely to persuade them to purchase the product?

o How do competitors rank in the eyes of the consumer? Are there any weaknesses in their positions? What are their strengths?

Most business consultants recommend employing an advertising agency to create the art work and write the copy. However, many small businesses don’t have the up-front capital to hire such an agency, and therefore need to create their own advertising pieces. When doing this a business owner needs to follow a few important guidelines.

5. COPY When composing advertising copy it is crucial to remember that the primary aim is to communicate information about the business and its products and services. The “selling proposal” can act as a blueprint here, ensuring that the advertising fits the overall marketing objectives. Many companies utilize a theme or a slogan as the centerpiece of such efforts, emphasizing major attributes of the business’s products or services in the process. While something must be used to animate the theme …care must be taken not to lose the underlying message in the pursuit of memorable advertising.”

When writing the copy, direct language (saying exactly what you mean in a positive, rather than negative manner) has been shown to be the most effective. The theory here is that the less the audience has to interpret, or unravel the message, the easier the message will be to read, understand, and act upon. As Jerry Fisher observed in Entrepreneur, “Two-syllable phrases like ‘free book,’ ‘fast help,’ and ‘lose weight’ are the kind of advertising messages that don’t need to be read to be effective. By that I mean they are so easy for the brain to interpret as a whole thought that they’re ‘read’ in an eye blink rather than as linear verbiage. So for an advertiser trying to get attention in a world awash in advertising images, it makes sense to try this message-in-an-eye-blink route to the public consciousness-be it for a sales slogan or even a product name.”

The copy content needs to be clearly written, following conventional grammatical guidelines. Of course, effective headings allow the reader to get a sense of the advertisement’s central theme without having to read much of the copy. An advertisement that has “50% off” in bold black letters is not just easy to read, but it is also easy to understand.

The Forgotten Advertising Medium

Too often those of us that own an online business forget that there’s another  advertising  medium that business owners have been using for years, with excellent results.

That medium is Newspaper  Advertising . Any online business owner that is not using the option of  advertising  in newspapers is losing potentially thousands of dollars per year.

Although print newspapers have lost some of their readership to online news sources there are still millions of homes in America that still buy newspapers, either by newsstands or home delivery.

Reading the newspaper is a habit for many families because there is something for everybody–sports, comics, crosswords, the food section, classifieds, etc. You can reach certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of the paper that would appeal to your target market. People expect  advertising  in the newspaper. In fact, many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the supermarket, movies or department stores.

As you look through your newspaper, you’ll notice some businesses that advertise regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, their  advertising  investment is working if they continue to place ads.

There are many advantages to  advertising  in the newspaper. From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper  advertising  can be convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes newspaper  advertising  offers. Even though you may not have a lot of money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads, without making a sacrifice.

Before placing an ad in your town’s daily newspaper you may want to place a few test ads in the local papers that publish less often and are not as expensive, like the Penny Pincher or American Classifieds (formerly Thrifty Nickel). If you get a good response to your ad in the smaller publications, chances are they will pull well in the larger more well-known papers. If your response is not what you were hoping for try rewriting the ad and placing it again. Since the rate is less expensive for the smaller local publications you should be able to do this as often as needed until you get the response you were expecting.

Some things to know about newspaper  advertising :

1. Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on Sundays, which is also the day newspapers are read most thoroughly.

2. Position is important, so specify in what section you want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for exact position… but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you need it.

3. Request an outside position for ads that have coupons. That makes them easier to cut out.

4. If a newspaper is delivered twice daily (morning/evening), it often offers “combination” rates or discounts for  advertising  in both papers. You usually can reach more readers, so this kind of  advertising  may be something to consider.

Other important tips to remember are:

* Before you advertise, have in mind a definite plan for what it is you want to sell.

* Create short, descriptive copy for your ad. Include prices if applicable. Consider using a copywriter or ask your newspaper for free copy assistance.

* Face your products toward the inside of the ad. If the product you want to use faces right, change your copy layout to the left.

* Be sure to include your company name and logo, address, telephone number and website url in the ad.

* Neat, uncluttered and orderly ads encourage readership. Don’t try to crowd everything you can in the layout. If the newspaper helps you with the layout, be sure to request a proof of the final version so you can approve it or make changes before it is printed.

* Always make sure you are satisfied with what your  advertising  says and how it looks before it goes to print.