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Part 5 – Advertising from a client perspective

To keep my posts to reasonable length, I decided to split this discussion into 6 parts:

Part 1 – Search engine (SE) advertising – the technical aspects

Part 2 – Advertise in media other than the SEs

Part 3 – SEO and submitting your web to the search engines

Part 4 – There are more search engines than Google, Yahoo, and Bing

Part 5 – Advertising – from a client’s perspective

Part 6 – The legal side of advertising your online business and its products

Most posts and articles are about how you, the business person, can get your ads to prospective clients, i.e.  Find them, show it to them, and then snare them; but this is a one-sided view. I think it is time to have a look at advertising, but from the client’s side of advertising.

How a client views advertising

It is time for you to assume the role of the client and then answer these questions:

  • How do you feel about the junk mail that you receive?
  • How do you feel about the spam in your e-mail inbox?
  • How do you feel about the text/SMS spam messages you receive on your mobile phone?
  • How do you feel about the telemarketing calls you receive?
  • In short – how do you feel about any un-solicited or unwanted advertising you receive?

Speak to anyone you know and ask these same questions, and you almost always will receive hugely negative vibes about advertising. There is just too much of it and people are sick and tired of all the unwanted advertising being pushed down their throats.  Consider this statistic: the average person is exposed to more than 3,000 marketing messages a day, yet only 14 percent of people trust advertisements, while 78 percent trust peer recommendations. And you now want to add to this with your advertising?

You can not go without advertising or else you will not generate any sales, but to blindly push ads will be a waste of effort and money and add even more unwanted ads?

Marketing and advertising – some concepts and influences

The basic difference between marketing and advertising

Typical marketing  activities include: advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement

Advertising is only one of the activities of marketing, and means: getting the word out concerning your business, product, or the services you are offering. It involves the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, etc. Advertising includes the placement of an ad in such mediums as newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and of course the Internet.

It must be understood that advertising always is directed by marketing, and that some changes in advertising requires a change in marketing strategy.  When you do research, quite often the term advertising will be used, while marketing would be the more correct term.

Is advertising dying, or is it changing shape

The general consensus is that advertising is not dying – it is changing face.  Opinions vary wildly on what is dying and what is growing, and which forms of advertising are yielding the best results. The results also differ from company to company, but the thoughts that came through strongly in most discussions is that:

Advertising has become complex

The traditional one-way push of advertising to newspapers, magazines, and TV, is not as effective as it used to be; but you still need to do it to create brand awareness.

With the advent of the digital media, the advertising scene has changed significantly, and has become more complex. The new media has brought with it new possibilities, but to effectively use the possibilities requires new methods.

Business/client relationship

Let me tell you a little story about client relationships:

Some years ago some or other business guru taught big business to consolidate, outsource all supporting functions, and reduce the workforce so as to restructure the business to be a “lean and mean business machine”. Implementing this model had the consequence of big business erecting solid barriers between them and their clients, which did away with the time that their reduced workforce previously had to spend on servicing client service and assistance requests. Now the only contact points were the call/help/support desk and the sales force. Fewer personnel delivering more work – what an improvement!

Obviously the “barriers” did not go down well with the clients, and had the result that loyalty to those businesses declined markedly. With very little or no loyalty towards the business remaining, clients very easily switched to buying from other businesses. These barriers thus created opportunities for the competitors, but also for small businesses which focused on providing the personal interaction which the big businesses were not prepared to do anymore.

Then a couple of years later, another business guru stated that the best business/client relationship model was to emulate that of the old time store owner who had good personal relationships with all his clients. These store owners knew every client by name, knew their circumstances, knew who their family members were, and treated them like friends. Obviously the clients reciprocated, and thus a strong loyalty towards the store owner was built. This concept was seen as the way to restore the lost loyalty, but now it had to be adjusted to work for big businesses with many branches all over the country. The erected barriers had to remain, yet you have to interact with your clients, so as to regain the lost loyalty.

Interacting with clients

This is best done by using the social media. While you may have e-mail, electronic newsletters, text messages (SMS) to mobile phones, and other forms of communication; these are not suited at emulating a conversation. They tend to be more of a one-way communication from business to client. But the social media (like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, etc.), are far more suited to establishing interaction with your clients, yet most businesses fail with their implementation of social media.

They fail because they did not change their marketing and advertising approach in terms of how they would use it, and thus do not get the benefit of what that media can provide if used correctly.

The effect of advertising on the sub-conscious mind

The first time you see an ad, pure curiosity will have you look at the ad – that is human nature. Thereafter, even if you do not like the ad, or even if you hate it, your sub-conscious mind still will recognize and process the ad. This leads to something almost like brainwashing.  (Please read the first 3 items under Food for thought for more on this).

So how do you advertise without alienating the potential client

The short and sweet answer: with direct advertising you most likely can not, but by using indirect advertising you can.  Let us have a look at a couple of techniques:

Provide information

Provide interesting information instead of the in your face BUY ME NOW ad. By providing information that is wanted, you gain the client’s interest, provide him/her with information they want, and then subtly provide a link to your product. I.e. the information may consist of a recipe and method of how to bake the perfect loaf of health bread, and ending it with: To get the perfect result every time, I/we recommend using the XYZ Health Bread Mix, where a link is provided to where you are selling the XYZ Health Bread Mix on your website. (BUT: The product that you sell MUST be of a very high quality or else this will backfire seriously)!

The disadvantage is that not everyone is interested in health bread, so not everyone will read your information article/post about the health bread. But the people that do read it will quite likely be far more interested in your product, and thus be easier to sell to.  So instead of interrupting what they were doing at the time, you now are reinforcing what they were doing with a seemingly positive progression to a desirable outcome, and thus have turned this into wanted advertising!

Opt-in advertising

Opt-in advertising is a concept where you are asking a person’s consent in sending them advertising dealing with the product groups they are interested in.

Due to the fact that the person indicated a willingness or desire to receive such advertising, it becomes wanted advertising, and when the recipients of this advertising  decides to act on the ads, they will be far more likely to buy than when doing cold canvassing.

The subscription choice for opt-in advertising should be presented on every contact form on every platform you have a presence on.

Social media

While it may look like I am trying to push social media as the be-all and end-all of advertising, this is not the case. But using social media has become important as it provides the best vehicle for establishing interaction with your clients.

Positives:

  • Almost everyone that is connected to the Internet is using social media.
  • The number of people using social media is larger than the number of people that is connected to the Internet. (Social media can be accessed from mobile phones as well)
  • Facebook currently claims to have more than 1 Billion users.  (See Food for thought – item 4). The world population stands at about 7.5 billion, with around 4.8 billion people owning a mobile phone.
  • The cost of social media connectivity and usage – free for personal pages, some money for business pages. (Compare the cost to advertising in newspapers and on TV & radio.)
  • Social media makes it possible to have a meaningful conversation and interaction with your clients.
  • If social media is used correctly, it may yield spectacular results.

Negatives:

  • Using social media will require you to spend some time on it every day.
  • If you do not use it correctly you will fail.
  • People choose to join and remain connected to your account. If they do not like your site, they will unsubscribe and there is nothing that you can do about it.

Using social media

Before you join a social media platform, first do research into how it functions and what both the written and unwritten rules of usage are. Always keep in mind – if you use the social media your primary target is to engage with your audience in an ongoing conversation. This means that you have to have a clear strategy of what you are going to use it for, and how you are going to go about it.

Find out what the demographics of the platform looks like and then weigh that up against the demographics of your target market. If the two match, then you can have spectacular results if you use the platform correctly. If the demographics do not match, carefully consider whether you will be wasting your time, or at the very least build a sensible strategy of how you are going to use it to achieve a worthwhile result.

When you start using the social media, spend enough time on it, but also realize that it is going to take time to build a significant audience. Persistence is the key to building this audience. Also realize that it will require consistently spending a significant chunk of time on it every day. If your presence is perceived to be sporadic or somewhat static, your audience will unsubscribe and be lost forever. That is the nature of the social media, and you have to abide by that or fail.

Do keep in mind that you are using the platform to have a meaningful interaction with your audience. If you try to do anything like the traditional one-way advertising push, you will lose your audience – they decide whether to follow you or not. Also keep in mind that you definitely will see negative comments, and how you deal these will be crucial in how your audience will judge you.

Make use of the polling features and couple these to the relevant pages on your website. This way you can get valuable feedback on how to improve your website and the products advertised. Ask your audience questions about your products, their likes and dislikes, about how they rate your products and service, etc. The more likes and good reviews you can get, the bigger the positive peer rating you receive from your audience, and like quoted in the beginning of this post: 14% of people trust advertising while 78% trust peer recommendations.

Always keep in mind: social media is interactive. Keep the audience interested, show that you listen to them, ask the right questions, and keep the conversation and interaction going. If you do not do that, your audience will leave you, and you will have lost all the time and effort put into it.

The final take

  • To advertise effectively will require some serious research.
  • As always – keep your target market in mind when you decide how and where you are going to advertise.
  • You will have to use more than one medium to advertise in as no single medium is used by everyone in tour target market.
  • You will have to use each medium correctly to gain the maximum benefit it can yield.
  • To advertise properly will require effort from your side.

Food for thought

Do yourself a favour and read these:

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/24/advertising-poison-hooked
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertising
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays
  4. http://newsroom.fb.com/imagelibrary/downloadmedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=4227&SizeId=-1
  5. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kymmcnicholas/2011/09/19/how-to-use-social-media-to-promote-your-small-business/
  6. http://thesocialskinny.com/216-social-media-and-internet-statistics-september-2012/
  7. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-marketing/advertising/how-the-social-media-conversation-will-change-in-2012/article4182130/
  8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/28/social-media-study_n_985102.html
  9. http://helpmyseo.com/social-media-news/826-analysis-facebook-gets-one-billion-members.html
  10. http://www.wsiwebsmart.com/_blog/Blog/post/Using_Social_Media_to_Interact_With_Your_Clients/
  11. http://ecommerce.shopatron.com/multi-store/resources/blog-entry/old-school-marketingadvertising-dying
  12. http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/07/24/72-fascinating-social-media-marketing-facts-and-statistics-for-2012/
  13. http://www.socialnomics.net/tag/social-media-statistics/

And then there is my book, How to start your own profitable Internet based business with confidence. In this book I do provide more information on advertising, but I also provide all the information you need to be able to start your online business.

Once again I have given you some thoughts to guide you into doing the required research which will enable you to put together a workable marketing and advertising strategy. Now it is up to you to do the research and work to make it happen.

Please comment on this post and give us the benefit of your thoughts. Tell us where you succeeded and where you failed. Let’s start a conversation!

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Discussion

10 thoughts on “Part 5 – Advertising from a client perspective

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