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Expert of the month

June Expert
Sarah Cook


Have you ever thought of advertising but not really sure where or how to start? Our friends at marketing company, Coconut Creatives, have kindly given us their top ten tips on what to watch out for if you're thinking about having a go! Founder, Sarah Cook, told us:

If your advertising isn’t working – STOP DOING IT!
Let’s start with the simple stuff. If you are running advertising that is not working, please stop it!

This applies to all advertising, whether you're running ads in newspapers or magazines. Use free posters everywhere you can and when customers come to you, make sure you ask people where they found out about you so you can see if your advertising has been worth it.

Only use ‘Direct Response’ advertising
There are two types of advertising – direct response advertising and brand advertising.

Understanding the distinction between the two will immediately save you a fortune.

Brand advertising is used by companies like Coca Cola and the large car manufacturers to build and increase awareness of their brand. Unless you have huge amounts of money which you are happy to lose, you should avoid brand advertising at all costs. For a small business it is a complete waste of money.

The only type of advertising you ever want to consider is direct response advertising – the purpose of this is to produce a clear response. So for example, if you are a local tyre fitter, target local residents with pay per click advertising (click here for more information), ads on google maps and yell.com, email marketing to your existing customers and printed flyers. Make sure any physical promotion has an offer or promotion code so you can track its effectiveness.


Testing and measuring
It is absolutely essential that you test and measure all of your advertising.

If we are going to engage in direct response advertising we obviously need to be able to measure that response, otherwise we are not going to know if the ad is working.

At the very least you need to know how many people responded to the advert. Then you need to compare that figure to the cost of the ad and you can immediately work out how profitable the ad was, or whether you should stop running it.

One of the reasons that radio and TV advertising can be so high risk, is that it's very difficult to test it on a small scale. You should never invest in this type of advertising unless it's money you can afford to lose.

Use fun and exciting headlines when possible
Be adventurous with your advertising headlines. Test different versions to see what works best.

There are no rules – except what works.

Remember AIDA
There’s a classic formula used by advertisers and it’s well worth remembering.The formula is AIDA.

This stands for:
  • Attention – grab the reader’s attention
  • Interest – create an interest in your product or service
  • Desire – convert that interest into a strong desire to contact you and find out more
  • Action – give them a reason to act now e.g. free consultation or buy one get one free etc.
If you follow this formula in every ad that you write or produce, you will greatly increase your chances of success.

Benefits, benefits, benefits
One of the principles that should drive all of your marketing is communicating the BENEFITS of your business.

Don’t advertise on a left hand page
If you're doing newspaper or magazine advertising, this one piece of knowledge can turn an unsuccessful ad campaign into a successful one. This has been tested again and again. When you read a publication, your eyes are drawn to the right hand page as you flick through, so statistically, more people will see your ad if it’s on the right hand page.

Never pay the full rate for advertising
The person selling you the advertising needs to know very early on that you have absolutely no intention of paying the full rate (the advertising cost).

Most advertising rate cards are far too high and you can always negotiate. If you're a small business remember that large companies who use ad agencies are buying based on the readership or audience levels rather than the rate card - so haggle and negotiate.

Don’t follow the competition
One of the biggest mistakes people make is advertising in publications or on various forms of media just because their competitors are doing so. Don’t for a minute think that all your competitors are there because their ads are producing great results. They’re more likely to be there because everyone else is and most of them won’t have a clue whether their advertising is working.

In fact, this is a well-known sales trick used by the people selling ad space. If they can get one or two of your competitors to advertise, they can call you up and tell you how you’ll lose out if you don’t advertise too. What they fail to mention is that your competitors probably never test their advertising, often haven’t got a clue how to market and are only advertising there because they think you will. This is a highly effective way to sustain the advertising industry. It’s not a great way for you to run your business.

Don’t buy into the myth that advertising is essential for your business success
Generally, advertising is one of the least effective ways to grow a business – it is just one of many marketing options that you have. But you really shouldn’t be dependent on it.

So start to think out of the box and use a few of the other marketing methods below:

  • Direct mail (flyers through the door or in your local paper)
  • Internet (try contributing in forums or linking up to other websites)
  • Email marketing (send a special offer to your existing customers)
  • Telemarketing and SMS texts
  • Loyalty and referral schemes
  • Special offers, competitions and prizes
  • Merchandise
  • PR (why spend money on advertising when PR gives you coverage for free)
  • Strategic alliances (make friends with other businesses and sharing clients)
The Coconut Creatives service combines the benefits of employing an in-house Marketing Manager with those of a Marketing Consultant, without the disadvantages of either! This means they can provide a complete service from planning strategic direction right through to implementation ensuring the delivery of the key activities. If you’d like to find out more about what Coconut Creatives can do to help your business – why not visit www.coconutcreatives.co.uk

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