The Center of the Bull’s-eye – How to create successful advertising campaigns with a limited budget.

There’s a lot to be said about the need for a well-rounded campaign, and fitting in the right amount of push and pull pieces to make a marketing strategy payoff. But oftentimes, with limited dollars, businesses need to have a strategy that best reaches their target market bull’s-eye with one good arrow.

Larger companies have the luxury of creating a balanced media mix. This often includes traditional advertising such as TV, Radio, print and others, along with digital options such as search, banner ads and retargeting. However, limited budgets mean limited options, and ‘testing’ different options can be a very expensive lesson to learn.

 

So how do you advertise effectively on a limited budget? Here are the four points you need to focus on to achieve success.

1. Identify the heavy user – with limited dollars you can’t target everyone, just because ‘everyone’ can benefit from your product. Determining the ‘primary’ user of your products and service will help you tremendously in zeroing in on your target, in order to determine which medium best reaches that audience.

2. Create a strong offer and professional creative – clearly a pivotal piece in the success of your advertising is an offer that engages your audience and moves them to action. It’s not only important to make this offer highly compelling, it’s also very important to make it clear what action you want your audience to take, and how to take it!

3. Do one thing right, before moving on – We can’t stress the importance of a well-rounded campaign, using the proper media mix for maximum impact. However, when working with a smaller budget you can be successful with just one medium. When Ironhorse country club was looking to add 25 new members, we moved their already saturated budget from newspaper to broadcast TV, and created two back-to-back :15 second commercials to air in The Fed-Ex Cup and The Ryder Cup. There was no other advertising supporting their new membership offer. In two months Ironhorse signed up 92 new members! This was the most positive result of any advertising campaign in their history.

4. A whole lot of this, and whole lot of that, gets you a whole lot of nothing. In advertising, we ‘professionals’ like to throw around the words ‘reach and frequency’ a lot, but alas, it’s true. If you don’t put enough into any medium to reach a large percentage of your target audience, and reach them at least 4 times or more, you might as well throw the money away. ‘Testing’ a media is OK; as long as you give the test the support it needs to satisfy the tried and true ‘reach and frequency’ formula.

If you need help creating advertising plan with a limited budget, please call or email us for a free consultation. While there is still no ‘guarantee’ in advertising, there is a typically a pretty good chance that if you don’t advertise, you will not grow or compete to the degree of your advertising competition.

How to create a ‘Tradigital’ advertising campaign

We use the word ‘tradigital’ in our office on a daily basis. As the name suggests, it’s the merging of traditional and digital in advertising and marketing campaigns. While most companies understand the need for both, they are often executing on each ‘side’ of the equation independently, rather than creating campaigns that integrate both sides for maximum results.

Before I explain how you do that, let’s discuss the process of a tradigital approach. At Baldrica Advertising and Marketing, all our campaigns require the same starting point: what’s your demo, and what’s your budget? Determining your ‘heavy user’ is the key in establishing who you are trying to reach. Just as important is a budget that will establish parameters to work with, and allow us to create realistic goals and measureable results that the campaign is expected to achieve.  These goals should be very specific and the outcome should be clearly spelled out. What are you trying to achieve with this campaign and what deems it successful? What does a conversion look like? What do you ultimately want your audience to do, after they see or hear your message? This information helps to mold the creative, and insures the message resonates loudest with its constituents.

Once these factors have been determined and the creative developed, we can create a plan based on the budget that has been allocated to it. This is where you see the tradigital in action. The push or ‘outbound’ side of the equation is the traditional media, such as TV, Radio, Billboards, print, etc. The value of pushing your message on an audience remains just as powerful today as ever, the key is to carefully integrate it with a digital destination because in a carefully crafted campaign, traditional media will drive a significant amount of traffic to your website.

Simply printing your web address, or mentioning your website in the ad is not digital integration, but that’s what we most often see (for examples of true digital integration, please visit our website or call us for a free consultation). Remember the majority of people prefer to go online for more information, so the easier you make that process the better results you will achieve.

With a digital destination in place, (as the primary source of response to your ad) you can now carry that momentum over with your digital assets, or your ‘inbound’ marketing. Point all of your digital media, including social, email, blogs, videos, etc. to your website or landing page, reinforcing the message you are pushing. The difference is that your engaged audience doesn’t need to be ‘sold’ as much is it is looking to be ‘educated’  – especially on the benefits and value of your product or service.

Whenever possible we look to complete the campaign with ‘Grass Roots’ marketing; that tried and true oil that keeps the wheel from squeaking. It’s a lot of hard work, but it often works well with your social media efforts and includes things like Public Relations, Networking, Trade Shows and other cross promotions (such as other businesses you can partner up with).  This strategy can be applied to just about any business, from a service provider to your local pizza place that prints coupons to draw visitors.  By pointing everyone to respond digitally first or add value to your offer on your website or landing page, you’ll have a much higher likely hood of capturing emails, adding to your social network or collecting other information that will make all of your future and follow-up efforts that much more effective.

To learn how a tradigital approach can be customized to work best for your company – visit us at bdigitalagency.com or contact me directly jgarcia@bdigitalagency.com

What the Miami Heat’s Championship can teach you about marketing and advertising.

The NBA regular season is 82 games long, and I mean loooong! If you make it to the finals, that’s another 16 to 35 games, wow! I love basketball, but I think it’s fair to say, no other sport has the constant, physical and mental demand that basketball puts on you. In an instant you’re switching from offense to defense, with different assignments, players and situations to contend with…at full speed!

So how does a team endure that kind of journey, and win it all? While the Heat are now known for their ‘Big 3’ – lead by superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they will quickly acknowledge that it took a team effort, and key plays by role players to get the job done. In marketing terms, it takes a ‘campaign’ to be successful.

In advertising, many companies go from one thing to another, hoping that they stumble across the right medium to bring them that coveted success. Although ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’ is something most people agree is not a good strategy, it is often the approach seen in advertising decisions.

The ‘Big 3’ in media for many companies could look like ‘TV, Radio and Print’. These 3 mediums still command the largest piece of the advertising pie, and can reach a large audience with a targeted message. But who are your role players? Internet, Direct Mail, Billboards, Email, etc.

The point is to plan a strategy around the right mix of media that best reaches your target market, so that each medium can build on the other. We often recommend a TV schedule that drives people online to ‘convert’ and add a direct mail piece to reaffirm the offer / message. Combing traditional and digital, (we call it tradigital) results in compounding effects for maximum return.

Putting one ad, here or there, and then abandoning it for another ad, here or there has never proven to result in any real progress or generate consistent sales. Work with your ad agency, to find what media mix best compliments your products and services in order to reach your target market and you will benefit from the results of a well-rounded campaign. Here’s to your championship season!

John Garcia – Baldrica is b digital.

The five questions to answer when deciding to hire an ad agency.

Nothing can quite compare to the excitement of a ‘small business’ that’s finding its legs and starting to show a real growth pattern. With it however, come a multitude of new opportunities and decisions for those at the helm.  One of those key decisions is when to hire an advertising and marketing agency. These questions and considerations can help you make that decision with confidence.

1. Are you overwhelmed with other projects? Let’s face it, every business owner wears many different hats, but when they monopolize your time to the point where you are not able to properly plan and manage your marketing plan, its time!

2. Are you getting a ton of calls from media reps? Have you noticed the only time media reps call is when you don’t need them? Media reps only put you on their radar when they know a company has the wherewithal to advertise. If you can’t keep up with the calls, and decide who to work with, its time!

3. Are you stuck in a creative rut? Even in good times, innovation and creativity need to remain in the forefront. Nothing can shoot down momentum faster than an ad or campaign that has boring or ineffective copy, or worse ties to be something it isn’t. If you’re not sure of your creative direction, its time!

4. Are you wondering what media is best for your business? TV, Radio, Billboards, Magazine, newspapers, and dare I say it, Yellow Pages; not to mention all of the digital options, where is the best place to invest your advertising budget. This is what we do best, and if you need expert advice and non-biased information, its time!

5. Are you wondering what advertising is working for you and what isn’t?  It’s been said ‘half of my advertising is working, I just don’t know which half’.  Well, imagine if you did!  We offer a ‘Free Media Audit’ which will clearly spell out where your ROI is positive and where you can reallocate some of your ad budget. If you don’t know where your ROI is coming from, its time!

Other points you may consider when deciding if it’s time to hire an ad agency include:

• A new perspective – a sounding board if you will.
• Expertise in marketing and advertising – you are too close to the forest to see the trees.
• Reduce costly mistakes – we’ve been there before, and will steer you away from it.
• A brand refresh – maybe all you need is to shake things up a bit.
• The creative eye – everyone can be creative, we get paid to do it.

If you find yourself somewhere in the middle of these points, it doesn’t cost you anything to pick up the phone and call us, or send an email to discuss your particular situation. Whether it’s just a free consultation, or our free media audit, let us help you gain a perspective of where you are, so you can help us gain a perspective of where you want to go, and we can show you how to get there!
John Garcia – Baldrica Advertising and Marketing Group (BAM) b digital agency, inc. 561-683-0404 jgarcia@bdigitalagency.com

Is it time for a Brand Refresh or a Complete Marketing Makeover?

I learned something a long time ago in this quirky business of marketing and advertising. The common denominator if you will, between a successful campaign and one that performs poorly, and that is this: ‘The message only resonates with the audience, if the audience resonates with the message.’ HUH?

Exactly my point! No matter how well thought out your marketing message is, and no matter how strong the offer, it only ‘works’, if the audience wants it, needs it, and is ready to receive that message. No matter how great you think your product, service or solution is, it might not be right for the large majority of the audience you’re targeting it to.

We’ve seen it over and over, a company who just ‘can’t understand why their marketing/advertising efforts are ‘not working’. To complicate matters instead of gathering more consumer information (asking their customers and prospects what they really want), they continue to lock themselves in board rooms and come up with the next great idea.

So, to answer the question whether you need a brand refresh, or a complete marketing makeover would depend on how well you’re engaged with your customers, and how well you understand the needs and wants they want you to service.

If you are not gathering any feedback, no email marketing, no social media, very little in terms of customer service surveys or focus groups, it may be time to start over.   Scary thought I know, but what if I could show you the future, and you’re only a few steps from going over the cliff? Although starting over will be tough, at least you will set a foundation for a much brighter future.

If you can answer these questions, you’re in pretty good shape, if not read on!
1. Do you have a simple, emotional brand story that can cut through the clutter?
2. Is it still relevant today?
3. Is it the same story customers tell?
4. Can your employees tell it?
5. Does your experience stand out?
6. Do you know what aspects of the experience drive your brand?
7. Does your experience have a unique branded personality?
8. Are you managing the full customer experience across organizational boundaries?

If you are getting feedback, and understand where you’re missing the mark, a simple brand refresh may be in order. Just a few tweaks to get you back in good standing with your core or ‘heavy users’. If not, and you’re just going from pushing one message to pushing another in hopes one will ‘stick’ – it may be time to ‘pivot’ to persevere, and that is a much better approach then moving forward blindly.

The key is to constantly be measuring these results and tying it all back in to the feedback you receive. One of the biggest benefits of social media is the instant response you can gather and act upon, the latter being the key here.

Whether you need a complete makeover or a refresh, we will help you navigate those waters and guide you through the process based on the strategies and tactics we’ve developed over the last 30 years in business. Whatever you do, don’t go it alone! That may be the very reason you’re in this situation now, and repeating the same actions, will deliver the same results.

Please call or email us to schedule a free consultation. We will ask the tough questions, and work with you to develop a campaign that will get your brand back to the forefront where it needs to be.

5 Reasons why your coupons aren’t working (and why you still keep doing them!)

It seems logical that since ‘everybody’ wants to save money, offering a coupon can entice someone to ‘give you a try’, which turns into increased sales, and new customers.  The age old tradition of coupons seems to be bigger than ever. With the likes of Living Social and Groupon, coupons have reached an all-time high, yet there are many mixed results, let’s review some of the most common reasons why many coupon efforts fail, and how you can make improvements.

1. Nobody knows you – When you offer a coupon and you’re a relatively new company, offering a relatively new product or service, ‘couponing’ your way into the mainstream is not the most effective strategy. First, the perception of a coupon from a company that no one has ever heard of is that the product or service isn’t selling, so they had to discount it. Now you’re giving away your goods because nobody wants them, bad way to start!

2. No perceived value – Picking up on the ‘couponing’ mentality, if the consumer has no perceived value of your offer, it means nothing to them. This effect can come from the first point that nobody knows you, hence they don’t realize the value of your product or service, or your ‘15% Off’ does not entice them because they don’t know what the real savings is.

3. Competing on Price – Everybody wants a good deal, but when you create a business model based on your coupons you are sliding down a very slippery slope. Now you are training your customers (who may be willing to pay full price for the great value, service that you provide), to wait until you have an offer to come in.

4. Promoting ‘cheap’ instead of rewarding ‘loyalty’ – As coupons have the general effect of rewarding the ‘cheap’ to bring in new customers, it often does not create the loyalty you’re looking for. I believe all discounts should be tied into a loyalty program, rewarding consumers for being consistent patrons. This also builds a sense of partnership with your consumers as, they feel appreciated since not everyone who comes in with a coupon can get the same reward they do – hence they earned it.

5. No data – You print a coupon, you get the 1 or 2% conversion, bring in a bunch of customers who just wanted the deal, use the coupon, save the money, cut into your margins (many times coupons are loss leaders), and you never see them again until the next coupon. The worst part of this is that you don’t even know who these people are. You did not collect an email, ‘Liked’ us on Facebook, etc. All coupon offers should have an opportunity to be redeemed online, on your website of landing page, with a simple name and email opt-in so that you can build your database and not start from scratch every time you publish a new coupon.

These are the main reasons why your crazy cycle of coupon marketing is not working, yet you keep doing it.  On the occasional chance that it does work, it does not build up momentum from one offer to the next.

Let us show you a ‘Tradigital’ strategy can increase the results of your couponing by 35% or more, while building your own audience of engaged consumers on your website, email marketing and social media channels.

Are your business practices in line with your consumers buying habits?

We recently launched a new product to help companies in the Air Conditioning business generate more leads. The program is simply called BestACQuote.com and it’s based on the same premise that has made Lending Tree and other similar sites so successful.

 

For the most part, if you give consumers the opportunity to gather all of their information in one place, and that place delivers quality and trusted options, that will often be the preferable choice. For example when you look for the price on a plane ticket for an upcoming trip – do you visit each individual airline site, or do you go to Expedia or Kayak or a similar site?

This business model on the internet continues to grow in popularity as the sites become better at delivering valuable results in less time than it would take you to do the research. These results are very often competing on price, as it allows the consumer to ‘shop’ more easily.

I understand that most businesses don’t want to compete on price. Everyone would prefer to deal with consumers who are interested in the best ‘value’ for their money and bottom line pricing is not the ultimate deciding factor. However, reality in the marketplace weighs heavily in favor of the consumer shopping first for the best price, then looking at the value.

It was somewhat surprising to me at a recent air conditioning trade show, how many AC companies did not want to compete on ‘price’. They often stated that their not looking for that ‘type’ of customer, and that they were not the ‘cheapest’ guys out there. Really?

Value is all about comparing the price of something to what you’re getting in return. If I pay for one AC system that last me 5 years and pay $2000 or buy 1 AC that last me 10 years but pay $3,000, which one is the cheapest?

All that aside (basic best-selling practices), the bottom line is that the consumer does prefer to make decisions based on price, and if you’re not able to enter into that arena, how are you going to be able to enter into the value conversation?

I was in the music industry many years ago, when we would actually sell records. Records are these vinyl discs that would spin in a turntable or record-player and music would come out the speakers! I say this sarcastically because when things went digital (MP3 if you will) in the music biz, everybody pushed back, and everybody wanted to sue everybody.

Well, now iTunes is just a way of life…I mean, when was the last time you visited a record store? The point is when you don’t embrace technology, and learn how to leverage it and make it work for you, it will run you over and run you right out of business.

Get comfortable with www.bestacquote.com and www.lendingtree.com and www.expedia.com and any other site that comes along and delivers the needs of the consumer in the fastest and most reliable manner, because that is how business will be conducted online for many years to come.

Champagne taste on a beer budget! 5 questions for establishing your marketing budget.

When we first meet with a prospect, we use a comprehensive list of questions to discover their needs, goals and wishes. Often the list of wishes is full of creativity and aspirations that make a lot of sense, and it becomes our job to craft the best plan to bring them to fruition.
Once we have that, it’s not long before we ask the dreaded question…what’s your budget?

“A good marketing budget should always mirror the goals of the organization–no matter how aggressive or conservative they may be”.

In our experience, less than 5% of the time do we get an answer we can work with. Typically the company doesn’t know, and most times when they do have a number in mind, or on paper, it does not match up with either their goals or expectations.

As marketers, we are the ‘doctors’ who are trained to make the best recommendation possible. Our recommendations are based first on meeting the goals or objectives of the company. The budget is determined by those expectations. The problem is when we come back with a campaign that far exceeds the investment the advertiser was willing to make.

To try and get ahead of this, we often give clients a range, based on their goals that they can expect to allocate. To help clients better understand how we create a plan, you can ask yourself these questions:

1) Who are the customers you’re trying to reach through advertising and marketing?
2) What stage of business are you in? Do you need to attract new customers, or create
a strong brand that keeps the old ones coming back? What are your objectives?
3) How much do you think your competitors are spending on marketing?
4) How much have you spent in the past, and did you get results?
5) How much can you realistically spend?

That last bullet point can seem a bit overwhelming. As an industry standard, it’s good start with 10% of the projected gross income or go off of last year’s numbers. This amount may be more than you need to achieve a particular objective, but in the course of the year, if you’re able to allocate and commit to this amount, you should achieve the marketing goals you set out for.

If however you have highly aggressive goals and attempting to reach a very large market, any agency worth their weight should be able to tell you if your budget is in line to achieve those goals, or if you need to adjust them, which may include not only reducing your forecasts, but also extending the length of time you will require to accomplish those goals.

“Even in recessionary times, it is wise to keep the marketing budget intact. Yet, it’s often the first thing to be cut when times get rough. However, it’s been proven that cutting back on marketing will mean losing out on even more profits.”

The key point is the newer your brand or company, the more effort and thus corresponding budget you should allocate. A rocket trying to take-off, experiences the majority of its resistance when first trying to get off the ground. According to the SBA (in addition to other reputable studies) 70% of new firms with at least one employee survive for at least 2 years. About 50% go on for 5 years. Meaning half of all businesses fail within 5 years.

There are several key factors for business failure, and one that often is cited is that most companies allocate all of their money into the resources it takes to ‘open the doors’. But then once the doors are open, nobody knows they’re there.

Be realistic, marketing and advertising, even in the age of social media take time, and money, and professionals in many cases in order to reduce waste and maximize your budget. Being penny foolish and pound wise with your marketing and advertising budget has shuttered many companies both big and small.

Think of ‘Tradigital’ as a way of teaching an old dog, new tricks!

The more we have these ‘tradigital’ conversations with our clients, the more I see the light bulb go off in their heads. It’s almost as you can literally see a flip switched and all of a sudden ‘they get it’.

If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s great (read on!) and if you have been having tradigital conversations, than you probably know what I mean.

Let’s go back for a minute…tradigital is the integration of traditional media with digital for maximum results. Basically, we teach that traditional media is by no means dead, it’s just that the message needs to evolve to match the expectations of the audience.

If our plugged-in society, in general, ‘Googles’ everything, why are you giving them a phone number exclusively in your ads? Or, for that matter, sending them to an unprofessional website home page that doesn’t even feature the offer you are promoting?

A colleague of mine was recently telling me about a new account that had been advertising their product specials every week, in a half page ad. Because they had stores at each end of the market, they were buying two major newspapers, and spending about $150,000 per year to do so.

They first redesigned their website to make it professional and functional. Then they changed the ad in the paper to half-page, and basically promoted a call to action that asked the readers to visit the website and sign up for weekly specials via email. The owner was reluctent, he was ‘old-school’ and didn’t think you could use a newspaper ad to drive people online. Well, he did get about 50 calls from the portion of his customers that absolutely refused to change their old ways. However, in just over two weeks he has received over 2,400 email opt-ins!

In the past 6 years combined this retailer had not collected that much information from it’s customers. Here we are two weeks into a tradigital campaign and the opt-ins are increasing daily. Think of the power this retailer will have at it’s disposal once this list gets to 10,000 or 20,000 names.

Do you think he will keep advertising in the newspaper? Absolutley, because when you have a well-crafted ad, with a call to action that drives people to respond online, it works! At the same time, he was able to cut his advertising expense in half (sorry newspaper), and now has an available budget to do the same with radio or TV.

Tradigital can teach an old dog new tricks because you keep enough of the old to keep the dog happy, and then once they see that the ‘new’ is good, they quickly embrace it.

For more tradigital strategies contact John Garcia at b digital agency, inc / bdigitalagency.com