Billboards, radio, television, magazines, newspaper, websites, restaurant placemats, team sponsorships, mall kiosks…no, this is not just another run-on sentence. It’s a brief listing of the numerous advertising options available to you. How do you determine what is the best fit for your business? First and foremost, think consistency. All too often, business owners will piecemeal their efforts. They will try radio for a few months. When that is not working, they will switch over to TV and then end up going the billboard route. This “musical chairs” of media usually gets the same result every time: wasted money with minimal return.
It’s often uncommon for seasonal businesses to maintain a consistent marketing strategy. An example of a business that falls into this category is lawn care. When do you typically hear or see lawn care companies advertise? It’s generally March-June and possibly again in September-October to promote a fall cleanup for your lawn. The most important advice we give to our clients is to make sure your potential customers know you before they need you, and in order to do that effectively, you must be consistent in your advertising.
If you’re worried about budget, try a sponsorship. A sponsorship can give your business the edge over competitors that just dabble in advertising a couple times a year. Let’s say your favorite radio station has one consistent landscaping company, ABC Lawn Care, and they advertise on that station all year long. If you hear ABC Lawn Care on a weekly basis, and then in April, ten additional “seasonal” advertisers jump on board, who is going to own that top-of-mind awareness? We are very confident in saying that ABC Lawn Care will do the most business out of all the other “seasonal” advertisers if the message is done effectively!
This brings us to another key component of consistency: the message, which comes directly from your brand! It is vital to keep a uniform message across all of your marketing mediums. Your logo, color scheme, and tagline are all components of your message that need to be consistent in everything you do. With the average consumer being bombarded with well over 5,000 advertising messages per day, it is imperative your business’s message clearly communicates what you stand for. Stay true to who you are and what you do best. Do not compromise your company’s brand with value coupons if you are not a “discount” store or in an industry where coupons are regularly used and expected, such as a pizza delivery restaurant. When you are a high-end brand that caters to people with more disposable income, stay true to that.
In addition, be consistent with your internal marketing. You hear and see it all the time, “We’ve got the best customer service in town” or “We’ve got the best products or services in the area” or “Nobody can beat our prices.” Well, the truth of the matter is, it’s almost guaranteed you will have competitors that do and don’t have similar customer service, similar prices, or similar products and services. Where you can set your business apart is by follow-through. If you’re going to talk the talk, then make sure you walk the walk. This is most likely common sense to a lot of people, but it happens quite often where businesses boast certain aspects of their business and don’t follow through.
In summary, figure out who your business truly is and who you want your target market to be, and stay true to that. Whether your business model aims for discount shoppers, late-night eaters, or luxury consumers, develop your marketing plan and focus on them. In most instances, if you try to appeal to consumers all over the board, you will most likely only reach a small portion of the consumers who are actually in the market for your product or service. Lastly, budgets can be fluid throughout the year, but to gain long-term benefits, work within your budget and be consistent!