Whether you work with an advertising agency or not, be aware about the methods that are available to you. Advertising and marketing methods change with lifestyle and technology developments. With such a wide selection to choose from - including, direct mail, press, TV, radio , internet ‘pay-per-click’ advertising, email, poster displays, 'viral marketing' (exploiting electronic communications and the 'word of mouth' instinct) and more – it is important to keep up with developments so you can make informed decisions about how to spread your advertising budget, and what 'mix' of methods to use.
A clear brief for your ad campaign is critically important if you are using an outside agency. This advertising process starts with a 'brief' comprising: the purpose of the advertising, who you want to talk to, how much you will pay, and what you expect to get, including how you will measure whether it is successful or not. Importantly, tell the agency the one main message that you want to convey to your audience. This will ensure that you and the agency are clear on the ad campaign objectives. You'll also find it easier to establish accountability if your agency is responsible for the whole job, rather than just a part of it.
Within your objectives, define whether you seek to create awareness or to generate a direct response. Effective marketing generally demands that each is employed, but on a limited budget you may be restricted to concentrating on one or the other, so think carefully about what will help most. Different media and methods are better suited to one or the other. Traditionally, targeted direct mail is very good at generating a direct response, as are magazine and newspaper adverts and inserts. Posters, TV, radio and press editorial are all much better at creating awareness and building credibility. However, a good agency will help you to ‘bend the traditions’ by using various media in original ways to achieve your objectives.
In all of your advertising take care to see things and hear things form your customers' viewpoint. The mark of truly effective advertising and marketing is the ability to convey complex issues to the audience in a manner that is interesting, relevant, meaningful, and easy to digest very quickly.
Your advertising material helps to create your image, so make sure you are happy with what your image, typeface and logo portrays, and make them work for you. A consistent image, employed across all mediums, builds brand credibility and enhances consumer reassurance.
Because advertising is such a complex science the only real way to be sure that something will work before you try it is to refer to previous indicators, and if you have no previous statistics or reliable data then run a 'pilot' or trial first. Start measuring the effectiveness of your advertising from the very beginning. Keep detailed records of what you did, when, to whom, for how much, and what resulted.
A very basic method of measuring and recording advertising effectiveness and results is to ensure that every enquiry is greeted at some stage with the question, "How did you hear about us?" or "How did you find us?" Even very large 'professional' organisations commonly fail to employ this basic principle within their customer service processes, and yet it is so utterly important.
Remember that advertising forms a part of your business plan, which is aimed at being profitable. If your advertising does not produce the results you want, you need to know why so that the ‘lights can be switched on’ and your audience can really see what you are offering.