Fact Versus Fiction for Marketing Effectively
Fiction: It’s easy to decide where and how to promote your business for the best results.
Fact: You must promote your equine business if you’re going to make a living.
Fiction: These days, the best advertising can be had for free on Craigslist and Facebook.
Fact: The most effective advertising is part of carefully thought out goals and a business plan.
Fiction: All your business needs is a website and it doesn’t matter who does it (Your brother-in-law/sister-in-law can probably configure something with cool horsey wall paper. Add a contact button and PayPal, you’ll be considered “professional”).
Fact: Well-designed display ads are still an important part of branding.
Fiction: You won’t need to spend money on a good ad.
Fact: Poorly designed ads do more harm than good.
Many advertisers in the horse industry struggle with decisions related to advertising and getting the most “bang for their buck.” Two common questions are: How do I know I’m spending my money wisely? and, How do I measure results or my return on investment? While it’s incredibly easy to consume an advertising budget (if you even have one), it can be difficult to decide where to spend your money. Strategic promotion is part of successful equine related businesses. The biggest challenge is to identify if you’re going in the right direction.
Here are 5 ways to know if your advertising choices are working for you:
- You’re busy and making money.
- You have a steady flow of leads coming in.
- The right clientele’ is calling you. This means you’ve targeted the right market.
- You’re enjoying your work.
- You’re making a difference for your clients and getting referrals.
What are some causes if you’re NOT getting the desired response?
- You’re not selling the right product or service.
- You don’t know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition); your product or service is commonplace.
- You spend very little time working on your advertising or marketing plan (or don’t even have one). Your ads are always a last minute creation.
- You’re advertising in the wrong place or not at all.
- You’ve only tried one advertising venue.
- Your website needs attention.
- You’ve lost focus and keep trying different things without giving one project enough time to grow and develop.
- You didn’t advertise long enough.
- Poor ad design or photos.
- You don’t have good people skills.
We’re all busy and trying to do everything on our own. It seems only the large companies hire media buyers to make the choices for them. Regardless, you still have to spend the time to determine what your goals are and develop a plan of action. Let me just touch on a few of these reasons you may not be getting the desired results.
You’re not selling the right product or service
Just because YOU like the widget or method of training or service does not mean it’s marketable. Have you looked at how many other people are using your methods or selling the same products?
You don’t know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
What makes your company or product special? What makes it different from the competition? If you’re selling the same product as the next guy you’ll have a much tougher time getting people interested in what you have. Have you gathered friends and colleagues to see if your product or service is a hit?
You spend very little time working on your marketing plan and/or your business plan
You may not even have one. What? How can you expect something to work if you invest little time and energy into it? There are so many resources out there it’s no excuse for not taking a little time to invest in your business. Here’s a couple of articles that may prove helpful: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220148# or http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/how-write-business-plan
You’re advertising in the wrong place or not at all
First of all if you’re not advertising somewhere you’re off to a bad start. You have to understand who your client is and where to reach them. Then you can start researching the best place to put your ads so they draw in leads for you. If you have NO presence in the industry how do you expect people to find you?
You’ve only tried one advertising venue
If you’ve only advertised one place and not seen results, you have to remember that it takes people an average of 7 times seeing an advertisement for it to even register. So you’ve run one ad and have gotten no calls, that’s to be expected. If you’re running an ad for a particular event, you need to get it out there several different ways and places. Display ads are still a very important part of branding, but you need a good website to send people to for more information. Put it on a calendar of events, run it online, or see if there’s a package you can buy that gives you print, web, email and social media exposure. You can also prepare press releases for your business, event or product, and distribute it to the media.
Your website needs attention
Your website is poorly designed and needs to be updated. You have old outdated information online. You’ve done nothing to optimize your traffic or you’re driving the wrong kind of traffic to your site. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important strategy in your business plan. It’s not about the flashiest or prettiest gadgets but the information you’re providing on your site. Does it meet the needs of your clients? Is the information easy to find? See your site rankings on www.alexa.com. OR evaluate your site on http://marketing.grader.com/site/www.hubspot.com
You’ve lost focus
You have a hard time sticking with one piece of your plan or new ideas keep distracting you. Give the current ideas on your marketing plan a chance to develop and grow before dropping them and moving on to something new. Know what outcome you’re looking for.
You don’t advertise long enough
You’ve run one ad, gotten no response, so you quit. Frequency is more important than size, so if you have a limited budget run a smaller ad more frequently. Discuss your expectations with your advertising rep. Get some details on what you can expect from your ad campaign.
Poor ad design
A poorly designed ad with poor quality images will do more harm than good. Spend a little money on a good photographer and let a professional design your ad. It’s money far better spent than letting your best friend who just bought a computer design your ad. You’re spending good money on ad space don’t skimp on the quality of the ad.
Poor people skills
Okay… so perhaps your ad gets you a call. When you answer the phone be pleasant; don’t treat the caller as if they’re an intrusion on your day. No ad will work if they can’t reach you or you aren’t prepared when they call. Respond to email promptly (at least the same day). The faster you can answer the question, the more satisfied they will be. In this age of technology there’s no reason you can’t respond in a reasonable amount of time.
There are many reasons that we feel that our advertising may not be working. Ask the magazine representative (or online rep) what you can expect when you advertise. Let them be your expert in helping you design a program that fits your needs and budget. Be sure you have a plan of action and are prepared to answer the caller’s questions with confidence and accuracy. Before you call be sure and have some information available for discussion. For instance:
- Know your annual budget. Be reasonable. Expect to spend at least 1% of your expected gross revenue.
- Have a basic ad layout in mind. List the key elements written out in a document.
- Download their rates before you call.
- Know the media’s distribution numbers or online traffic numbers. You can usually find this information from their website or by running their website through one of the resources in the “Your Website Needs Attention” paragraph.
The biggest mistake made when evaluating publications is comparison on price only. You’re better off to run in a quality publication and spend more than to just look for the cheapest price and settle there. Be sure you’ve researched their distribution, web presence, content quality and reputation in the industry. Do a little research! You may actually get more for your print ad than what you think. Be sure to find out what comes with your print ad buy. Many publications are combining digital editions, online advertising, additional editorial and more as a perk of advertising with their company.
Are you really saving money by online advertising only?
How to have a successful print ad campaign
Generating revenue from Facebook
Where’s the best place to advertise my business?
Why do I need to create a press release for my business?
The Northwest Horse Source is the largest freely distributed equine publication in the Northwest shipping 17,500 copies to over 600 locations each month. With an online digital edition and more informational resources online this is the best one stop resource for horse owners in the Northwest. Its all-breed, all-discipline educational content provides new information each month for tips on caring for your horse, riding techniques and quality content for successful horse ownership. It’s coverage through print, online, e-newsletter and a social media presence provide a great audience for horse related companies to share their products with this large, targeted readership. For details visit www.nwhorsesource.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-332-5579.
The Northwest Horse Source is an independently owned and operated print and online magazine for horse owners and enthusiasts of all breeds and disciplines in the Pacific Northwest. Our contemporary editorial columns are predominantly written by experts in the region, covering the care, training, keeping and enjoyment of horses, with an eye to the specific concerns in our region.