If you have to pay for your advertising (say your news release didn’t get taken up, for example, but you really want to get the message across NOW), make sure you get the best ROI (return on investment) you can. One reason small business advertising doesn’t work is because people pay far too much for their advertising campaigns. This can apply to medium sized businesses too. Corporations can absorb the costs but if you are involved in one, why not make the ROI the best you can?
The first thing to know is that advertising representatives (‘reps’) are usually paid on commission. They love it if you accept the rate they quote (the ‘rate card’), but that will mark you out as a beginner. They expect you to negotiate advertising rates – in fact, the figures they quote are often plucked out if the air!
Most media have two rate cards. This is because advertising is based on readership/listenership and you pay per 1000 readers or listeners. Larger businesses can negotiate a smaller rate than smaller businesses, purely through bulk buying.
1. Do a deal on the rate card
If a rep finds out you’re a small business, they’ll sting you for as much as they can. Cough in disbelief and initially offer half … and be tough. Say something along the lines of, ‘I’m testing this; if it works I’ll run with you, but this is what I’m prepared to pay.’ You may get the rate you offered or you may have meet in the middle; give way slowly. If it’s a weekly and the rep doesn’t give in, just let go – time is on your side.
One way they try to trick you is to call you and offer you a massive discount for ‘now only’ and say you’ll get some editorial free as a special offer. However, these figures are fantasy and they rely on you feeling guilty about negotiating on what’s already a discount. Reply, ‘I’m sorry, I can go with £300 but no more’ and stick to your planned budget.
2. Use their pressing deadlines against them
Now, sales teams are highly trained and use highly effective systems. For instance, if a member of a team gets hold of you on the phone and they establish you’re the decision maker (that is, you can OK the costs), he or she will stand up so the team leader knows to listen in on the call, and feed the rep with more information or prompts if necessary.
Individuals and teams are rewarded based on their results so as a deadline gets closer, they are more and more willing to do a deal because they have a target to reach. Call them the day before the deadline (find out when it is) and say, ‘I know you usually charge £540, but I’m calling to see if you have a slot you’d accept £97 for – I’m short on cash, but this money just came through.’
They may say no, so leave it. Next time they may listen. Even better, they may well say yes first time, especially if you have built a relationship with them. This applies to radio as well. They’d rather have £75 than nothing, even if they usually charge £400.
3. Have someone else buy your advertising
You can save time and money by using an advertising agency or media buying agency. They get better advertising rates than you because they can bulk buy for discount and because they have access to audience figures and can negotiate from a position of strength. They may not even charge you more than cost, as the media often give them a commission.
4. Have smaller ads …
… that produce a better response than the other ones appearing in the same paper/radio programme! Use that space or time effectively. Split test each component of your ad.
You could change your ad’s purpose and use it as a two-step response. This means you use the ad to get people to visit your site or call you, rather than trying to sell off the page (the latter requires AIDA, a guarantee, overcoming objections, etc, which is difficult if you can’t afford a full page ad – use the space on your website for all that instead).
Here’s an example for a computer repairs business. Instead of writing (and paying) much about fixing computers and talking about your company, write an ad like:
How Your Computer Repair Man Could Destroy Your Business!
FREE report tells you the essential information you need before
you make any decision about who to let loose on your computer.
This could be the most important business move you’ve made!
Visit www.NotTooLateToSaveYourPC.com now or call 0800 112233
(24 hr answer phone with a recorded message) and we’ll get your
report off to you immediately.
5. Use PPC (Pay Per Click)
Used effectively, PPC can be a cheap way of advertising. PPC is used on online search engines: when someone clicks on your ad, they’re taken to your specified web page (don’t necessarily use your home page, but one that’s relevant to the ad). You don’t pay for your ad to be there unless someone clicks on it, and even then the cost can be as little as a few cents or pence a click. Use something like Adwords in the first instance – it’s cheap and you get very quick feedback. Then use your best version in the paper if you want.
6. Advertise in someone’s newsletter
Find a complementary business that sends out a good offline or online newsletter to a lot of people. Ask if you can ‘sponsor’ it. This means you pay the newsletter owner, and they do a ‘message from our sponsor’ section at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the newsletter (it depends on what they want to charge and what you’re willing to pay).
7. Piggyback on someone else’s mail out.
If you know someone’s sending out a letter to their clients, and they’re in a business that’s complementary to yours, ask if they’ll include your advert/flier/letter for a fee. They get some of their costs paid for and you won’t have to fork out so much as you would on a single mailing.
8. Get the word out on Twitter – and ask people to retweet your posts
9. Put out online Press Releases – you get plenty of links back to your site
10. get onto Google Places and get shown on the “7-pack” – the companies that come along the side of the map
There are other ways, but that’s enough to get goinf with! Questions? Just contact us.