1. As long as your website is mobile friendly, you can use your customers dedication to their phones to your advantage. This past year I did some work for a company that specializes in poison ivy removal. When I began working with them, their website was NOT mobile friendly. You simply could not read their site, (which was designed for a desktop computer) on a 4 inch phone screen. We changed that immediately. We also added a "click-to-call" feature to the website. The number of phone calls coming in from people requesting quotes almost doubled from the previous year. Why? Because we thought about our customers and made our system work for them. Think about it, you're out in your backyard, you see something that you think is poison ivy, you grab your phone and search poison ivy, looking for images. You see pictures of poison ivy and realize that, yes what you have in your yard is poison ivy. Now, the next search is "How do I get rid of poison ivy". The company website comes up and you see they offer free estimates, you either fill out the form or click "call now" and set up an appointment. Either way, the customer is satisfied that the problem is being dealt with and can move on in their day. The consumer is grateful that their problem is solved. From the company's perspective, that customer is not calling around, they found what they need, they called you, all you need to do is follow through and close the sale.
If you put 100 business owners in a room and asked them what they think of advertising I guarantee you a large percentage will say "advertising doesn't work." When I started out doing ad sales for newspaper and radio I would hear that comment from prospects frequently. My response was usually "Have you ever heard of Coke, Pepsi, Ford or Kelloggs?". They would always say "yes". I would say "You see advertising does work." "Bad advertising doesn't work." If your advertising is not working, you may be running bad ads.
"What makes an ad bad?" Well, a lot of things, putting an ad in the wrong place is just as unproductive as putting a really poor ad in the right place. You see there's a lot that goes into an ad. I think the biggest problem with most advertisers is they do ads for themselves, not for their customers. Allow me to explain. If you own a clothing store named "Dorothy Marie's", and you're "Dorothy" the average ad rep (for a print ad) is going to bring you a sample ad with your name really big at the top of the ad. The problem with that is if I've never heard of your store, seeing the name, frankly means nothing to me. So putting "Dorothy Marie's" in huge letters at the top of the ad is most likely going to make you feel really good but it won't do anything to attract customers. It's a vanity ad.
So how do you reach customers? Well, what are you selling? Using Dorothy as an example again, let's imagine that she sells women's shoes. Ok, but what makes her shoes any better than the discount place at the mall? Well, she sells really comfortable, stylish shoes for working women who commute into the city.
So with that information how do we make a good ad. Well, I had a customer like that in 2002 or 2003 and we designed this ad campaign. We took a women, put her in a bubble bath and had her laying back in her tub with her feet out and these really nice dress shoes on her feet. The headline of the ad was "Shoes so comfortable, you'll never want to take them off", combined with this sort of shocking photo of a woman in her bath with shoes on. Then we simply added additional text under the photo and it worked. It got attention and it sold shoes.
See our focus was her customers. How they want to feel in their shoes. They want to look good but they also want comfort.
So what do your customers want? What do they need from you? Why should they come to you (or your store) instead of going to a competitor?
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We frequently hear from people who tell us "my website used to come up on page one of Google but I don't see it anymore." There are a lot of reasons why a website that was page one of Google six months ago or a year ago, isn't page one any longer. First, Google changes their algorithms constantly. Their job is to make money, they make money selling ads. If it was easy to get your business to page one for free, no one would buy ads. So they're really not interested in making it simple for you to get to page one. Also, they want to protect their users and to Google that means getting the users the most accurate, valuable, relevant information. If your site has great content but nothing has changed in 5 years, you're probably not going to hold your spot for long.
Then of course there's the competition. I try to explain search engine optimization (or SEO) with a football analogy. Since I'm only about 8 miles from MetLife Stadium, I'll use the Jets as my example. Now suppose the Jets are going to open the season against the Patriots and they come out and win the game 28 - 3, holding Tom Brady to less than 100 yards passing. Well, that's great for them for game one but if they play the Patriots again in week 14 of the season and come out and try to do exactly what they did in game one, they will probably lose 28 - 3, or worse. You see, the Patriots and every other team in the league that is going to play the Jets during the season studies the game tapes, they look for tendencies, they look for strengths to be wary of and the look for weaknesses to exploit. SEO is the same principle. If you're a cosmetic dentist and you're on page one for "Cosmetic Dentist in Montclair, NJ" this week, all those cosmetic dentists on pages 2-10 are trying to figure out what you are doing to rank higher than they are and they'll be doing all they can to imitate your strategy and make themselves look better to Google.
Unfortunately, SEO is NOT something that you can do once and forget about. You need to check your ratings frequently. Ideally, you want to add valuable content to your site at least once per month and you want to be ready to tweak your site if you notice it dropping in rank.
We offer a free 50+ page analysis of the strength of your SEO. There is no obligation and the report will be emailed to you. If you'd like your site analyzed free, please fill out the form to the Right and simply request "Free SEO analysis" in the "comments" box.
If you do any print advertising you will find most ad reps try to sell you the largest ad possible. Everybody knows full page ads are the most effective, right? You'd be surprised...
Yes, in tests of readers, more people will remember a full page ad than will remember a 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8th page ad but the difference is much less than you'd imagine. In most cases (and most industries) the difference in recall is roughly this:
Full page 24% of readers recall seeing the ad
1/2 page 18% of readers recall seeing the ad
1/4 page 12-14% of readers recall seeing the ad
1/8 page 10-12% of readers recall seeing the ad
So, what we recommend to our clients is spread out your budget. If you have a limited budget (or even if you don't) I tell my clients to buy 1/4 page ads and buy in more papers. If you are in an area served by multiple local papers/magazines, you are better off running 1/4 page ads in 4 of them than running a full page ad in one of them. Ideally you want to run at least three times in each publication and always, always, always track your ads. Put a coupon and make sure that each paper has a different coupon code. At the end of the promotion figure out which publication got you the most leads/customers. I always track leads, customers and percentage of closes from each publication. I also determine the cost per lead and cost per customer from every publication that my clients advertise in.
If a publication gets me 50 leads but only 5 turn into customers and another publication gets me 20 leads but 15 turn into customers, most likely next year (next promotion) I will put more money into the second paper. Of course, you also have to look at the value of the customer. This year one of my clients actually had on publication where we only closed 25% of the leads vs 58% close rate at another publication but the customers from the first publication spent an average of $1,000 each while the publication that gave us 58% closing rate gave us customers that only spent $478. So the customers from the publication that gave us less sales, were worth more than twice the customers from the publication that gave us more leads and more sales. Next year (this is a seasonal company) we will advertise in both publications because both proved to be great for us.
Small Business owners are facing more and greater challenges every day. Fortunately with the growth of the internet, we are also gaining more opportunities as well. This blog will keep you posted on news, information, opportunities and advertising advice. Feel free to submit questions via our contact forms on the home page.
I'm George Louvis