August 2019
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Business Essentials - Taking Care of Business
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7 Tips to Advertising Strategically

 

7 Tips to Advertising Strategically

We've all seen them – those two-page spreads, full-colour, glossy magazine ads from mega-companies – and most of us who run small businesses just shake our heads as we imagine the cost of running just one of those ads. Advertising your business can be expensive, and the return on your investment is often low. As a result, many small businesses do not advertise. However, if you are going to spend advertising dollars, there are some tricks you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your ad. These principles are proven to increase ad response and to provide your business with stronger exposure.

Remember that advertising is rarely effective if it's a one-shot deal. If you're going to advertise you should do it strategically, so the ad appears in a given publication or website for at least 4-6 times. Marketing experts say that it takes the average consumer ten hits (exposures to the same information) before they respond to it. If you feel you'd like to try an advertising campaign for your business, follow these steps to building a strong ad, and then carefully plan your strategy.

1. Targeted Placement

Your ad for mountain bikes may not be very effective in a senior's magazine. If you're selling decadent desserts, you probably want to stay away from health-oriented publications. Determine who your target audience is and research what they read and where they look for information. A trade magazine might be the perfect place to advertise your product or service, but there might be other sources as well. What about placing a full-page glossy poster promoting your fitness training services at local health clubs or health food stores? Perhaps a rack card might be the way to go to advertise your bed and breakfast. Think about all the places your target audience gathers and place your ad where they are most likely to see it.

2. Catchy Headline

A headline is perhaps the most important part of your ad. If what grabs your audience's eye doesn't also grab their attention, you've lost the battle. People are drawn to headlines that have numbers – "Ten Ways to …", "Five Things You Should Know About …" They are also attracted to what they might consider "insider" information. "What the ABC industry isn't telling you about . . ." Sometimes, a well-placed humorous phrase can be effective at catching people's interest. Another effective headline tool is "How to …" and "Tricks or Tips for …" Make your headline an attention grabber and you're halfway there.

3. Well Thought-Out Graphics

This can be the trickiest part of any ad. Too many ads are cluttered with illogical graphics that confuse the eye. However, graphics can be powerful if used well. A simple image with the right three words can sell millions (anyone remember Nike's "Just Do It" ad?). A graphically complex ad can also be very effective, but the graphics need to have purpose and point to the words rather than detract from them. If you're not particularly graphically inclined, it may be worth hiring a graphic artist to create your ad for you.

4. Irresistible Offer

Do you know why television infomercials are so effective? Because the offers are irresistible to the type of consumers who are watching. "Not only do you get the incredible grill, but you also get the accessory kit AND the cookbook for free. And oh, if you order in the next ten minutes you'll also get …" Some people can't resist if they feel they're getting something extra. Can you place something in your ad that complements the product or service you're offering? It doesn't have to cost a lot, but it can work to draw those customers who just love getting that "something extra."

5. Limited Response Time

There's something else that's irresistible to some people – a limited response time. If you tell them the deal has a 30-day limit, they're more likely to buy it than if they think they have unlimited time to make a decision. Limited quantities can also work – "Only 200 tickets available – order now!" This creates a sense of urgency in people and pushes them toward a purchasing decision.

6. Call to Action

This is the most-often forgotten element in ads, and yet it is the entire point of the ad! Give people instructions as to what you want them to do. "Call today, buy now, email or complete your registration online before January 20th, register now!" If you don't tell people what you want them to do, they won't do anything. Be specific, and if possible, give a variety of options.

7. Easy Response

Make it as easy as possible for people to respond to your call to action. A toll-free number, an email address, web site, simple online order form, a number of payment options – the easier you make it for people to respond to your ad, the more likely they will. Think Amazon; it has made purchasing online so simple it can be carried out with one or two clicks from their advertisement.

For a small business, advertising can be tricky, but with a few strategic elements, you can create a winning ad that brings potential customers to your company.

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7 Tips to Advertising Strategically

 

The Time Stealers

Life is crazy busy – always. So, how do you find more time out of an already crowded day? By confronting the time stealers – those things that surreptitiously, insidiously reduce your productivity. Here are ten time-stealers you need to nullify now!

1. Lack of organization and clutter

Last month we published an article on spring-cleaning your office – so have you done it? A clean, tidy office means less time searching for stuff you need now!

2. Inability to say no

You can't do everything. You must learn to prioritize and say no (without guilt) to the things that are unrealistic for you to add to your already full calendar. Saying "yes" all the time is a time stealer – a big one!

3. Telephone, email and the internet

Okay, lots here to distract you. It's too easy to be doing some research on the internet only to fall into the Facebook, or YouTube cat video time stealers – you can lose an hour without even realizing it. "You got mail!" is another distraction as is that phone call just when you are focused on something important. Experts say that it takes eight minutes to return to where we were before an interruption. How do you deal with these time stealers? Internet – don't have any extraneous browser windows or tabs open – only the one you are using for your research. Assign certain times of the day for returning emails and phone calls, and then discipline yourself to stick to it. Turn off the sound that tells you when you've received mail, and then return your mail at the designated time.

4. Hidden time

Those minutes we don't think about when we plan meetings or activities can really catch us at the end of the day. When doing your planning, remember to count the minutes it takes you to travel to and from meetings, look for parking, and account for unforeseen things that may affect your time (traffic, construction, weather). Even if the meeting is in your office – account for the few minutes someone may need to discuss a specific agenda item with you after the meeting.

5. Inefficient meetings

Never have a meeting without a timed agenda. Inefficient meetings can literally kill your well-planned day. Determine how much time each agenda item should take and do your best to stick to those times. Begin and end meetings on time and don't allow them to get off track.

6. Lack of delegation (or asking for help)

Remember point number two? Realize that delegating or asking for help, even if others can't do as perfect a job as you can (see the next point), will free you up to do the things that are really important, and that only you can do. Delegation is a smart time-management principle that is greatly underused.

7. Perfectionism

Do you spend two hours on a project that was really completed in the first hour, because you can't let go of your perfectionist desire to make it PERFECT? If you're struggling to get things done each day, you don't have time for perfect. Come to terms with the fact that excellent is good enough and let it go.

8. Procrastination

This time stealer is often difficult to deal with because people who procrastinate rarely get around to dealing with why they're procrastinating. Develop habits that encourage you to do things right away. Don't touch a piece of paper more than once or twice – deal with it. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Procrastination is one of the biggest sources of workplace stress, and it's the easiest one to fix – remember Nike's, "just do it."

9. Lack of planning, prioritizing and focus

Taking time at the beginning or end of each day to plan your activities for the next day, can make the difference between an efficient, well-run day, and one full of chaos. You can't of course, plan for every interruption or event that might throw your plans off track, but if you've prioritized and planned, you'll be able to quickly see which items in your day can be reassigned to make up for time spent on the unplanned emergencies. Another trick is to schedule time into each day for the unplanned.

10. Downtime is not a time stealer

Studies have proven that people who don't get enough time for themselves are actually less productive than those who do. Working through your lunch hour doesn't actually give you more time – it makes you less productive later in the day. Make sure you get enough breaks in your workday to keep your mind alert and fresh. Walking away from your desk for ten minutes may actually help you finish that task more quickly than staring at it for hours without a break.

Take stock of which time stealers are a problem for you and take steps to eliminate them. You may not make your day longer, but you may discover a bunch of hidden minutes!

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7 Tips to Advertising Strategically

 

Executive Leadership: Patience and Persistence

Recently, well-known business book author, Seth Godin wrote a blog entitled, "Like riding a bike," in which he said that people often say that once you've learned to ride a bicycle, you don't ever forget. He then goes on to say that we learned to ride by simply doing it. We didn't learn to ride a bike from a book or a video. His final statement summed it up, "… you learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again." His postscript stated that this how we learn most things – by just doing it.

What he's talking about is the need for patience and persistence to accomplish things in life – to be successful. Whether it's learning to walk as a toddler, ride a bike as a child, or managing the many tasks in our work or personal lives as an adult, we need to remember that a combination of both patience and persistence will help us reach our goals.

In most activities, success doesn't come easily or even quickly. If we have a goal and a plan or strategy to achieve it, we need to add patience and persistence to the mix. As self-help author Napoleon Hill said, "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success."

If our goal is realistic and we have thought through the activities we need to perform to attain that goal, we often need to have patience and persistence to see it through. Too often people become disillusioned and give up too easily. If we as toddlers gave up trying to walk after the first fall, we'd still be crawling as adults.

The sales process is a good example of the need for persistence and patience. More often than not, sales calls to prospective clients result in a "No." Success is about not giving up when the first few calls don't bear fruit, but to keep at it, to keep on calling. We need to remind ourselves of our goal and our strategy and keep on track.

This strategy may not always work, however. You may have to readjust your goal and/or your strategies if you continually meet with negative outcomes. At these times we have to stop and reassess the situation and ask ourselves some questions. What are we trying to accomplish? What is not working with our strategy? Is there another way we can do this? Sometimes by taking time out to ask ourselves these sorts of questions, we discover minor adjustments which are necessary to help us achieve the goal.

Patience and persistence are about sticking with the plan. It's about not giving up easily, but also not blindly following a path that requires reassessment or tweaking. Like riding a bike, we need to remember what we are trying to achieve and keep the goal in mind.

Paul Abra
Motivated Coaching

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