It’s an interesting time to be a business owner. The Internet has erased many geographical boundaries that existed for our grand-parents and we’re swimming in a sea of always-increasing – many free – options to market business, thanks to social media. Yet, for many business owners, profits are down, clients and patients are being deliberately routed from our care and service by daily deal offers, and we’re starting to second guess what really works to get more of the right market through our door.
To their credit, many savvy business owners – even amid the near-deafening chants encouraging them to turn to free “social media” options – continue to turn to “real media” options to get in front of their customers. For our purposes here, “real media” includes options such as television commercials, news interviews, ad space in print media outlets and air time on the radio.
While I use social media myself and do advocate my clients use it as well, business owners advertising on real media today should be heralded for not abandoning what has been proven over decades to work in favor of a less proven, albeit wildly popular trend.
And they are in good company.
President Obama, at the time this article was written, has approximately 41.7 million followers on twitter. Oprah has 23.3 million. Both of these American icons have active, engaged email lists that dwarf any company based in any city in America. Yet, when Obama has a message he really wants to drill home, he takes to real media. Oprah, despite being vocal about her dislike for making the talk show and news circuit, does exactly that when she is promoting a movie or cause. Why? Because even with their impressive social media followings, they know the irreplaceable power of real media.
So, why – as a business strategist – do I hear so many clients and prospects playing the blame game and complaining that their last commercial or ad “didn’t work”? The three-part reason behind this “my commercial or ad didn’t work” scenario is simple and immediately fixable, equipping you to make your next appearance in real media an impressive – and measurable – win for your bottom line.
* First, if your last real media option didn’t work, chances are you were buying air time or ad space with the following mentality: to build your brand. Listen, building your brand is a fine objective, but it is not measurable and the return isn’t immediate enough for most business owners. To turn this around you must approach your next real media spot with a direct-response mentality.
Direct-response marketing is rooted in the singular goal of getting your market to take one specific action as a result of seeing your ad. Most ads and commercials never give a direct call to action, and this is a costly mistake for small business owners. So, what do you want viewers or readers to do? Visit your website? Call your office? Bring in a coupon? Keep it simple and direct and build your ad or commercial around that one response you want to measure.
* Second, if you saw disappointing results with your last commercial or ad, you probably forgot this about your market: They have a “What’s-in-it-for-me?” mentality. This isn’t meant to be disparaging. We all have that WIFM mentality to some degree.
Once you decide on what direct response or action you want your commercial to inspire your market to take, you must give them a good reason to do so. Tell them why they should visit your site, store or call your office. What will you give them? A complimentary audit of some sort, free report, professional assessment? Why should they visit, call or click right now?
As an example, during their off-season, SeaThruConstruction.com, see below, offers a free five-point home inspection to Outer Banks homeowners, allowing their clients to catch problems early and also allowing SeaThru principals to better serve and stay in front of clients. This is not a discount on their core work, but a service they don’t ever sell, but offer as a value to new prospects and existing clients.
Quick hint: Resist the urge to focus on discounts and deals to earn business. If you live by price, you’ll die by price because there will always be a business willing to forego its profit by undercutting you.
* Finally, do not overestimate what any media can do for your business. Media is designed to get your market to raise their hands, visit your site or store or take one step in your direction. Once that is done, the ball for increasing ROI on a real media investment is entirely in your court as the business owner.
This means, you must deliberately script the experience new prospects will have engaging with you. You must consider – if you’ve asked prospects to call your office – how these new callers will be welcomed, treated, spoken to. This “sales choreography” is too important to leave to chance or to the whim of your receptionist.
Likewise, if your real media spot encouraged prospects to visit your site, carefully orchestrate what they will see, and how your auto-responder will give them what you promised and nurture them toward the sale.
Bottom-line: The success of your real media investment doesn’t begin and end with the station or print outlet. If your commercial or ad didn’t work, it’s not because real media is dead – it’s not – but because one of these three strategies wasn’t part of your media marketing plan.
B. Michelle Pippin — Main Street America’s business strategist — is the undisputed authority on creating clients for your small business.
Ruthlessly committed to creating unreasonable results for experts and small business owners all over the country, she founded www.womenwhowow.com, one of the fastest growing business development organizations for women, and has been featured on national and local media outlets giving real world, right now solutions for business owners creating their own success.
Michelle is often described by her clients as relentless, grass-roots, passionate, profit-driven… and sometimes, even worse! But, if your business is pregnant with potential, and you are ready to (FINALLY!) give birth to consistent profit that fully leverages your passion and expertise, you’ve got to speak to Michelle. visit her at www.bmichellepippin.com.
image via © Micha Klootwijk