Advertising: Who needs it?

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By David Watkins

I’ve met with many Edmonds business owners in the past year, exchanging some marketing and advertising ideas for a free cup of coffee.  

And while I’m always hoping that these coffee klatches will lead to future business, I get a kick out of helping people who need a little ad advice. 

Here are some of the most common questions people ask.

“Do I really need to advertise?”

That question begs an honest answer, and on at least two occasions recently, I’ve said, “no.” (How’s that for selling your services?)

I told them that they weren’t ready to advertise. Their websites weren’t all that great (and they knew it), they had sloppy marketing materials (brochures and flyers), they needed to build an email data base to communicate with existing customers and in general, they needed an overall plan. Hopefully, they’ll do that and then they can put my ad agency to work.

“Where do I advertise?”

This is a good one and not an easy one to answer. Here are some media ideas I usually recommend people to consider.

Online ads. Full disclosure here: I advertise on this site and like what owner Teresa Wippel has created for a local news source and community forum. There are other sites focused on Edmonds. And I like The Seattle Times news site and its nwsource.com, which serves a broader geographic area but covers local news, travel, sports and entertainment.  Many of the larger websites (like Google, Yahoo) can offer geo-targeting, meaning you can pick an area (like south Snohomish County or north King County), but most have minimum buys that may be beyond your budget.

Cable TV. Not every business can benefit from the magic of television, but if you have a good story to tell and the means to produce a quality commercial, it can be a big winner. Comcast offers specific geographic areas as well, and along with its variety of networks and programs, gives you a well-targeted audience. It’s very affordable, but I warn you that you need frequency to be effective.

Newspaper. We all know that younger people don’t read newspapers; they get their news online or on TV. If you are targeting an older audience, newspapers offer a reasonably affordable option. There are several local choices in the Edmonds area. I highly recommend combining the print ad with an online ad if they have a good website.

I love radio, but it serves a large area, so you’ll need to decide if that works for you or not. It’s as efficient as any medium you can buy.

“I only have so much money to allocate for advertising, is it enough?”

It’s never enough, of course, because if you run a good campaign, the more you spend, the better the results. But your budget is what it is, and if you study your media choices and select those which are most efficient in reaching your target audience, you’ll have a much better chance at success.

“Whenever I’ve done advertising before, it hasn’t worked.”

There’s a question in there, like, “what went wrong?” This remark is also an excuse for not advertising at all (“Well, I tried it and it just didn’t work, so why try again?”). Advertising works if you have good creative and get your campaign in front of the right people. Frequency is critical as well and, of course, you must have the products or services people want or need.

“What results should I expect?”

It’s not always easy to measure results of an ad campaign. If you’re running a branding campaign, where you are trying to give your company broad exposure, your goal is to plant the seed in people’s minds and hope they think of your company when it’s time to buy.

If you’re running a coupon promotion, a sale or hosting an event, results will be measurable and comparable. A warning about coupons: They can be the monster you have to keep feeding. Be judicious with your offers.

“Why don’t I just do PR and social media, they’re free?”

Free? Not exactly. Good PR, even if you don’t hire a professional, takes time. A good news release is no accident. And there is no guarantee a publication will publish it. Social media is a whole new ball game, and it takes a LOT of time to tweet, post or blog. I recommend people get help, at least to start, and commit to the amount of time it takes to perform these tasks on a regular (yep, regular) basis.

Advertising. Who needs it? We can all benefit, provided it’s done right. Good luck.

David Watkins owns Ads for Edmonds, a full-service advertising agency serving the local business community. Since 1985, David has operated his own company, Team Watkins Advertising & PR, and worked with local, regional and national businesses. As president of both companies, he plans, creates and executes ad strategies and creative campaigns to help people grow their business. He started Ads for Edmonds in 2010 after living and working in the area for several years and becoming familiar with the merchants of Edmonds.

In 2005 and 2006, he created radio and print campaigns for the City Edmonds and Chamber of Commerce. This past year he has worked with several local businesses, including Arista Wine Cellars, The Edmonds Film Festival and the Donchez Law firm. For 16 years, David served the Seattle SuperSonics in a variety of capacities and was the Vice President of Marketing and Operations when the team brought Seattle its first and only major sports league championship. He worked in a similar capacity for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA and then served as Business Development Director for KING 5 Broadcasting prior to devoting his efforts solely into building his ad agency.

An accomplished copywriter for all media, David also directs and produces television and radio commercials. His son, Chris, is the company’s graphics director. In addition to advertising, the company designs websites and email campaigns, coordinates public relations strategies and advises in social media. Ads for Edmonds works with local businesses of all sizes and welcomes the opportunity to provide ideas on how you can improve your business. David can be reached by email, david@teamwatkins.com, or by phone, 206-588-1549.

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