At what point should you consider an advertising agency?

I heard a quote recently that I love:

 

As a small company, the question of whether or not to use an agency for marketing and advertising is one that is not considered often enough. I believe there is a misconception that agencies are expensive and that no one knows how to market your company better than you (the owner) does.  When you weigh the costs of bringing the marketing ‘in-house’ it may at first look like a cost-savings move.  But in fact, the majority of the time the media spend becomes less efficient and less effective, and some companies never fully recover.

With the advent of social media, there has been an increase in companies taking their marketing in-house. Now that this ‘free’ medium is out there which makes it easy to market, many are of the mindset that money can be saved, and real ROI can be increased.  We’re all for that, and it’s a big part of our ‘tradigital’ strategy, but often the savings of in-house marketing is lost in wasted efforts that deliver poor results, as many find out that social media is not so easy, and generating results is not ‘free’.

In addition, many owners and employees fall victim to the old adage, ‘you’re too close to the forest to see the trees’.  By this we mean that many owners often do the advertising or marketing that they like the best, not necessarily the one that their audience likes the best.  We always start with the target market (demo) and the available budget and work it backwards to insure that we’re buying the most cost-effective media that delivers the largest share of your audience, combined with the best strategy (why buy) with tactics (why buy now). 

Many times as an agency we find that the owners and those who are responsible for marketing really do have the right ideas, but it’s a matter of pulling out the best ones, and then executing on the back-end. Ultimately a collaborative process yields the best results, combining the best ideas, with proven copy writing and creative production that delivers results.  Add that to the buying power of any good agency, and you can also significantly save on the cost of the media.

An article written years ago by Tony Benjamin still has just as much merit today as it does when it was written. It’s entitled 10 Reasons to Think Small, as in a ‘small agency’. Here are the 10 points:

1. You get better creative
2. Small agencies are less expensive
3. Substance over surface
4. Clients are more important to small shops
5. At small agencies people aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
6. Small agencies are apolitical
7. Small agencies are faster
8. Small agencies are friendlier
9. Small agencies make a client’s budget go further
10. Small agencies need every client

Future posts will elaborate on each one of these points, but if you own a company or are tasked with the marketing and advertising success of that company, pick up the phone and give your local small ad agency a call (our number is 561-683-0404…shameless plug!).  Most often an initial consultation is free, and you can determine if they are the right fit is for you.

We consider our agency to be an extension of your company. When you work with us, it’s like partnering with another company that is focused on one task – increasing business through the message you convey. The goal is to allow us to do our job, and in turn let you focus on your job of running the company, and growing your company.

Don’t think you’re too small for an agency, the money you think you’re saving could be costing you a great deal. To schedule a free consultation with b digital, please visit us online at bdigitalagency.com (A division of Baldrica Advertising and Marketing) or call 561-683-0404

The new ‘Mind Your Business’ Video Blog

Welcome to ‘Mind Your Business’ a new video blog featuring your company! The idea is simple, we want to speak to as many business owners and marketers and find out how you’re integrating digital with your traditional efforts.

We call this ‘tradigital’, but you can call it whatever you like. The key is to learn what is working and what some of your challenges are. As an agency who focuses on ‘tradigital’ we see the many challenges business owners have today as they try and integrate digital.

The most obvious challenge is learning a new technology and deciding if it makes sense to apply time and resources to it. At what point do you decide that a certain tool or digital strategy is not ‘fly by night’ and that you’re company stands to benefit from it?

It seems that as soon as one strategy or resource reaches a critical mass, there is a new one waiting to replace it. While this has always been the case in technology, we have never seen such a rapid cycle of it. Even hardware is quickly outdated and replaced by newer models with updated functions and features.

There are however several undeniable digital products and services that have proven their worth, and though continually evolving, should be part of any marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization using proper keyword strategies and blog posts for original content continue to dominate the internet ‘marketing’ space.

The practice of purchasing ‘adwords’ on Google, Bing and Yahoo, (maybe the original ‘online advertising’ strategy) continues to show dividends today, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Social Media seems to be the new ‘too big to fail’ strategy that has shown tremendous promise as more and more consumers look for new ways to interact with the brands they love the most. Facebook continues to dominate the space, but giants such as Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube and Google+ make managing the process that much more challenging.

This new video blog seeks to interview business owners and marketers and find out how they’re integrating these digital assets and what results they’re seeing.

Questions like:
• Are you seeing increased traffic to your website?
• Are your prospects finding you through social media?
• Are you using Pinterest, Instagram, Viddy or other social tools to drive traffic?
• Do you use Twitter for customer service purposes?
• Have you tested the use of a landing page or vanity URL?
• How do you integrate your blog with your marketing plan?
• Do you use custom tabs on Facebook and has it increased likes?
• Do you advertise online or on social media sites?

The key takeaway we’re looking for is to see how businesses are integrating digital with their traditional efforts, and what kind of results are they seeing? If you’re a business owner or marketer that has seen some success integrating digital, we’d like to schedule a 30 minute interview and find out how you’re minding your business! This video will be used on our site, and syndicated to our entire social media community, as well as sent out over the PR wire. In addition, you will receive a copy of the interview to use as you wish.

We hope this video series will not only teach and inspire other businesses and marketers, but that in true ‘Social Sense’, will also direct some eyeballs and eventually new business your way! Thank you for taking the time, please email me at jgarcia@bdigitalagency.com or call 561-288-1625 to schedule your on-site interview.

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

A Tradigital Strategy in 3 easy steps.

We keep pounding tradigital, using traditional media to set up digital because we understand not only the value of traditional media, but how readers, viewers and listeners prefer to respond. This graphic shows that of all the respondents to an online streaming radio ad, only 5% chose to call. An overwhelming majority of the responses were digital in nature.

So, if you are running an ad, and your call to action is ‘call or come in today’, you’re tapping into the preferred response action of only a very small amount of your audience. We see that most advertisers are actually starting to understand this, but without the money or resources they feel they have no other choice but to remain with the standard advertising model.

To address this, we have developed a 3 part strategy that allows you to easily leverage the power of mass media, by offering your audience an ability to respond and engage with you on their terms.

1st – Custom Landing Page. It has often been said website home pages are where good leads go to die. It’s true even of our own site, if we offer a ‘free marketing makeover’ and send the audience to our home page, and that page does not have that offer immediately accessible, that the visitor will most likely leave. If however we send them to ‘yourfreemarketingmakeover.com’ and that page has the detailed information, and how to take advantage of it, your conversion rates increase dramatically.

2nd – Tie in Social Media! Even if they convert on the landing page, you still want to offer the visitor a reason to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ you. These touch points give you much more influence and in an age of declining email open rates, this gives you an additional point of contact. If you can add an additional incentive, say ‘Like’ us to double your coupon, it may be worth testing that out.

3rd – Email Marketing Campaign. There is a big difference in unsolicited emails and opt-in email lists. Once someone has declared that they want to hear from you, there is a much larger likelihood they will open the emails and consider your message. Also, many buying processes take more than one exposure to the offer or business. Effective drip-email marketing campaigns remain one of the most effective tools to convert your prospect into a buyer.

At b digital, we have mastered this tradigital strategy and are partnering with media companies in South Florida to offer these services to their advertisers. By doing so, the media companies are allowing advertisers to leverage this strategy, and significantly increase the results of their campaigns. In return, the advertisers remain loyal and increase their buys.

If your preferred media company does not offer a tradigital strategy or offer the triple-pack we described above, ask them to contact us, or you can contact us directly and we will be glad to schedule a free consultation. We have seen advertisers increase results by 35%-50% or more!
One thing is for sure, more and more people will opt to respond online or digitally over responding via phone or coming in, and you need to make sure your company offers that choice. We hope you will choose us to get you there.

What if you stopped advertising?

I’ve often asked this question, and it’s amazing to me the different responses I get. Generally speaking most ‘advertisers’ are unsure what the return on their advertising is, and so they’re unsure what the repercussions would be if they stopped.

I realize it takes a lot of effort to track advertising results and often busy small companies don’t have the resources in place (or so they think) that it takes to properly track campaigns. For all these reasons a ‘tradigital’ campaign makes all the more sense.

Tradigital simply means ‘traditional and digital’ working together. The sweet spot is using your TV, Radio, Newspaper ads etc, to drive traffic to a website or custom landing page. Basically, the ‘call now’ call to action is much less impactful in a plugged-in world, and offering a ‘digital’ response has shown to increase the response rates by 35% or more!

A report on radio campaigns that offer an easy to remember landing page or website, dramatically increase the number of response. Let’s look at the chart below:

So whether or not to stop advertising is not the question you should be asking yourself. Rather, what do you need to do in order for your advertising to evolve, is what you should be asking. The days of using media to ‘call today’ or ‘come in today’ are no longer relevant. Even JC Penney for goodness sakes is now promoting their ‘everyday low price’.

The key is to use digital components to increase responses and custom landing pages to increase conversion rates and build your own audience. As the number of people you Tweet, Facebook, Link-In, Google + and YouTube grows, your influence grows. Now when you take a break from traditional adveritising you still have an opportunity to reach those who most want to hear from you.

So don’t’ stop advertising, just be smart about it and you will know exactly what is working and why.

Do What you Do Best!

I am often told “don’t tell me how to run my business”. In fact, it might as well be the slogan of every small business in America. I absolutely agree, the question is – what business are you in?

If you’re a baker, a mechanic, a doctor, a restaurateur, whatever business you’re in, you’re only a ‘marketer’ if you’re in the marketing and advertising business. My point is, no matter how well you know your business, it does not qualify you to best ‘market’ your business.

Despite the millions of books and articles and even blogs like this one, the most successful businesses seem to have learned the golden rule…’Do What You Do Best!’ Those who don’t learn this, prefer to ‘do their own advertising’, or worse, they hire a marketing agency or rep, only to tell them what they want in their ads.

This is why the majority of newspaper ads look like a cluttered piece of mayhem with no clear call to action or visible headline, etc. Many TV and Radio ads just want to cram as much information as possible, and Billboards look more like graffiti than anything else.

Let me ask you, as a business owner, would you let me go into your business and tell you how to run it? Then why would you want to tell your marketing or advertising agency or media rep how your ads should look or sound like?

Even after many small business owners have failed miserably when it comes to their own marketing efforts, they still insist on calling the shots. Recently a new account tells me, “we lost a lot of money advertising and printing brochures on our last go-around” but he still wants to tell me what his billboard should look like.

I’m not sure if it’s the A type personality or the desire to control everything that hampers the ability of small business owners to let go of this part of their duties. Whatever it is, I can always tell when a local business has ‘made the switch’.

I’m not saying that all marketers get it right every time, but the basics of marketing and advertising are immediately recognizable. The clear message, the simple and creative approach, the clear call to action, and the better ones include the clear next step which should feature a ‘digital’ component such as a landing page, website or social network component.

I’ll summarize with this, if you want to take your business to the next level, you may want to consider a professional marketing agency. To be successful you need to give them as much information on your business as possible, and let them go to work. Otherwise, keep on ‘doing your own ads’ and then blame the media company or the rep when it doesn’t work.

If you’re ready to have this conversation, we would be happy to meet with you. Otherwise, we wish you well as you attempt to learn a new profession while trying to run your business.

“Hey, Traditional Media…If you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em”

After working 6 years at the largest daily newspaper in Palm Beach County, I have first-hand witness of what technology can do. I actually saw the same thing happen in the recording industry, when I managed the sales and marketing for a record label in New York.

When I started in the music business, vinyl or ‘records’ as it is commonly known, was still the preferred method of choice for DJ’s throughout the world. In less than a 5 year span we saw a huge shift to CD’s, which created a whole new generation of sophisticated CD players and all the sales that came with it. It hence moved to MP3’s and the use of laptops. Now, many world-renowned DJ’s play their entire set using sophisticated Apps that cost only $24.99 on their iPads.

Technology proves again, you either adapt or get out of the way. Well, I’ve added one more option, if you can’t beat the technology, join it. I’m talking specifically to traditional media, such as TV, Radio and Newspapers.

Again, my experience with Newspapers saw Craigslist sweep across the nation, from West Coat to East, slowly destroying the holy grail of newspaper income, the Classifieds! Once Craigslist added your city to its list, you can rest assured that income was going to go away.

THERE’S NO NEED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN:

To me, although there are many complexities, there is one glaring and obvious solution. Traditional media needs to facilitate the ease of access to the internet by providing more content and features of what’s going on online.

For example, if the newspaper created a ‘Found it on Facebook’ section, which could even be ‘advertorial’ or ‘pay for play’, I believe it would be very successful. Why, because it’s much easier to look through a daily paper, and read this section, and find new and wonderful pages on Facebook, that are local and relevant, then it is to go on Facebook and search all over. Beyond that, the feature could alert you to things you may not have ever even thought to search for, and expose new opportunities you would have never found looking online.

I’ve heard rumors of TV commercials being more interactive. Featuring a few buttons you can press on your remote to ‘respond’ to the ad. This technology seems way behind to me, and needs to be fully developed and implemented soon. With all of the internet TV’s already on the market, the world is begging for commercials with coupons you can redeem with the push of your remote, as long as say you’re logged in to your Facebook account – now who’s old fashioned?!?

Radio is not as easy, but bottom line, effective radio ads have proven to drive more targeted traffic to a website than any other form of mass media. Unlike other forms of mass media, you listen to the radio, as you do other things. Vanity URL’s have replaced Vanity phone numbers, and most of the audience prefers to respond to ads online, on their own time. When was the last time you picked up a phone after you heard an ad on the radio?

Yet, most commercials do and say the same thing that they always have, and results are weakening. If traditional media featured the ‘digital world’ in such a way that people would find value in reading, watching and listening to the messages again, mass media would be much more relevant again, and our plugged in world would benefit tremendously.

Vol III – The new role of traditional media

In the last two blogs we introduced the Four Pillars of Social Media, and then gave you a ‘big-picture’ overview to set the right expectations and mind-frame when it comes to integrating digital strategies.
In this blog we are going to show you how to use traditional media, such as radio and TV to quickly drive up your audience on your website or social networking sites.

 

Despite all the talk about social networking, a new study has found that “Traditional media advertising remains a more effective driver of online traffic than the social networking equivalent,” reportsWARC.COM.

 
What this means is that, while to many, social media is still in it’s infancy, traditional media has very large footprints and thus can deliver a message to a large audience. This audience however is less interested in being forced to listen to an offer they don’t care about, and more interested in an opportunity to engage with or take the message one step further.

 
For example, rather than tell everyone about your great ‘one-day sale’ you are going to tell them to “Like” your Fan page where you can receive exclusive offers every day. Your goal now with mass media is to drive them to your social networking pages (or landing page, website, etc) so that you can build your own audience. We call this strategy ‘tradigital’ using traditional outlets to drive traffic online.
Looking at 2012, you may consider these two inverted triangles.

The Orange triangle signifies the amount of your budget being allocated to ‘outbound’ efforts. This will initially encompass about 80% to 90% of your allocation. Remember, the key difference is that you are now using this medium to drive traffic to your digital space.

 
By the time you reach the start of the 3rd quarter, you will see nearly a 50/50 split of ‘outbound’ efforts to ‘inbound’ efforts. By this time you will have built up a significant following, and you need to increase your efforts to keep your audience engaged and in return, talking about you.


By the end of the year, your allocation has completely flipped, and you are now driving the majority of your sales efforts via social media. This will be a very exciting time for you as you have learned to rely less on traditional media outlets and now have a built-in audience of loyal customers.

 
Sounds too good to be true, but we’ve seen it happen many times, and for some it has even outperformed our expectations. There are also times when it may take more than one year to reach the scenario above, but one thing is for sure, if you don’t start looking at it like this, you will never get there.

 
And let me close with this: You may be able to still get away with a 100% outbound strategy, but once the teens and twenty-somethings of the world become ‘old-enough’ to make a difference in your bottom line, how are you going to reach them, and the generation after that? Will you be relevant or irrelevant?

The quicker you adapt the quicker you grow.

It amazes me as a small business owner myself, why there is so much resistance among the business community in general to grasp the need to evolve.

 

I understand the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and that may have worked well, for a long time. However, business in today’s world requires constantly challenging even the successful status quo or some ‘new jack’ will run you off the road.

 

No one can argue that for most Americans the ‘digital’ world is just as real as the ‘traditional’ world and the lines continue to blur. Think about it, most of your office workday, you spend it with a computer (digital) send an email (digital), print something (traditional), text someone (digital) call someone, (tra-digital), and so on.

 

If you need to know something right away you drive down to your local library and pull out the most current encyclopedia. I’m just kidding of course, you probably head over to your counter and open up your yellow pages to look up the phone number to call…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing in a little irony. You Google it, you search online, you go to YouTube, or you use that tiny little search bar on Facebook. So now you find the information you think you’re looking for, go to the website and it’s useless. What a letdown; that visitor will most likely never visit your site again.

 
Yet, most websites are built by friends of friends, or cousins or worse. I understand companies on a shoe-string budget, but cutting corners on what essentially is your 24hour business partner is a very risky way to budget.

 
The same thought process goes behind where you advertise. I believe traditional media remains a very effective medium to promote your message, but that message has to change! The same way you would never run to the library or open the yellow pages, you will most likely not hear a commercial and call immediately, or rush to the store to participate in a sale for items you’re not in the market for.

 
A ‘tradigital’ strategy uses mass-media to drive the audience to respond online. It’s not a revolutionary concept at all, but until now, most advertisers feel like that’s a strategy only for e-commerce enabled companies, and that’s just not true.

 
For example, If I’m selling tires, and I have a great buy 3 get 1 free sale this weekend, at best, only those drivers who need tires will respond. Yet, everyone who drives a car will need tires at some point. Why not offer your audience an opportunity to respond online…’go to www.onefreetire.com and sign up online. We understand you may not need tires now, so you can use the coupon whenever you’re ready!’

 
Imagine that, well why not? Now you have their name and email address, and whenever they’re in the market for tires, you’ll be top of mind, especially if you incorporated your Facebook/Twitter page and keep this prospect in the loop with an email drip campaign. That is ‘tradigital’ – let us show you how to get there and increase the results of your advertising no matter where you choose to advertise.

How to be ‘tradigital’.

If you advertise in the newspaper, on television or radio, use direct mail, billboards or any other ‘traditional’ advertising medium and are not incorporating a ‘tradigital’ strategy you are not maximizing your results.

What is Tradigital? It is using traditional media to drive traffic to a digital destination, whether it is a website, landing page or social media page.

Basically, the new ‘call today’ is ‘visit out site’, and the new ‘visit our site’ is ‘visit our landing page or Facebook page’ for increased recognition. A landing page is simply a web page that is customized specifically for converting traffic responding to a very specific offer or promotion.

If you send traffic to a home page that does not reflect the details of the advertised offer, or does not have easy data capture and follow-up, it will result in a very low conversion rate, and is a poor strategy. The reason is this, whenever you advertise, no matter how many people you reach, only a small percentage of that audience is actually in the market for your goods and services.

For example, if you sell tires, everyone who owns a vehicle, at one point or another, will require new tires. If you can get that person to engage with your message regardless of whether or not they are currently in the market for new tires, you do not limit your potential return.

In this scenario, your radio ad says ‘visit tirestogo.com and sign up for our buy one get one tire free promotion, and take advantage of our offer whenever you need new tires’. A message like this, does not limit the audience, or the offer. Now you have a new email address, and can create an email drip-campaign that sends offers on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, that keeps pulling leads forward. The ‘tirestogo.com’ landing page also has links to your Facebook page which says ‘Like’ us on Facebook and shares our coupon with friends and family.

This takes guts, this takes vision, but this is what people expect not only from business, but from the messages their hearing and seeing every day. The world of ‘call today, this is a limited time offer’ just does not resonate anymore. People have too many resources at their hand and don’t need to feel pushed or forced to react.

Allow those people to engage with your brand, be exposed to your products and service, and take advantage of offers and promotions on their timetable and you have a winning ‘tradigital’ strategy.

If you want to learn how to move from a traditional strategy to a tradigital strategy, please contact us for a free consultation.