Monday, November 22, 2010

Marketing Like The Big Boys

My first job in advertising was as a copy writer for a radio station. It didn’t pay much, but I learned a ton. Over the years, I produced TV commercials, designed print ads, and planned many media budgets. But you never saw my TV spots on the Super Bowl or my print layouts in Vogue. My clients weren’t gigantic multinational brands like Coca-Cola or Chevrolet. Instead, I created ad campaigns for Casey Meyers Ford and Soda Boy (whose still-memorable slogan was “Oh Boy! Soda Boy!”), advertisers in St. Joseph, Missouri, the small town where I grew up. My ads were for local businesses, not national conglomerates. In other words, they promoted businesses just like yours.
Working in local media as I did is a great way to learn a lot about all kinds of businesses. Car dealers, grocery stores, clothing retailers, and home improvement contractors all have different advertising needs. Some are looking for more store traffic, others want to expand their market area. Attracting new customers, building loyalty in the existing clientele, encouraging repeat purchases or introducing new product lines each require different tactics. There are a few principles that apply to them all, but there really is no such thing as one-size-fits-all advertising. Please keep that in mind as you consider the concepts in the Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing & Advertising.
When you mention advertising to most people, they immediately think of the behemoths of the airwaves--companies like Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, or Wal-Mart. But big spectacular national ad campaigns like theirs have little in common with advertising the way it’s done by small businesses--the kind of advertising you do. In most respects, advertising your business is harder.
Mostly, of course, that’s because you don’t have a gazillion-dollar advertising budget. You probably don’t have a lot of expensive research to precisely define your market or a dedicated psychometric laboratory to test your ads before they run. Your copy writer may double as your store manager most of the time. Your art director most likely spends most of her time freshening merchandise on the shelves. Your media planner? Probably the person who writes the checks—you. In other words, your advertising isn’t designed and executed by a team of Madison Avenue gurus, it’s the product of the good-hearted people who help make your business a success.
That certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Quite frankly, somebody who spends 90% of their time talking to your customers (like you or your store manager does) is going to have an infinitely better understanding of what they want than some clip-board-toting psychological profiler or white-coated lab technician. You don’t need a super computer to calculate your media efficiencies to the fifth decimal point when you’re trying to decide whether to promote this year’s Father’s Day Sale in the Weekly Inkspot or the TV-49 Six O’Clock News. What you probably do need, though, is a better understanding of what makes advertising effective and how to make it work better for you.
That’s where The Dynamic Manager’s Guide To Marketing & Advertising comes in. The book offers you some basic rules that will help increase the return on your marketing investment. Some of them come from my experiences creating ads and watching customers react to them as I stood in my clients’ stores and offices as the campaigns ran. Others were drawn from the lessons learned by small business owners themselves, from auto repair shop owners to nursery retailers, clothing stores to insurance agents. As in all the books in the Dynamic Manager series, much of this material was drawn from my conversations with thousands of small business managers and owners. I filtered their stories through my own experiences as a manager and entrepreneur to distill some sound guidelines on why and how you can market your products and services in the real world. In other words, my books aren't about theory—they are about the real world of small business marketing.
Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing & Advertising: How To Grow Sales And Boost Your Profits a for and

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