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    48 Replies Latest reply on Dec 14, 2008 2:45 PM by Iwrite

    Advertise or die

    Iwrite Pioneer
      The economy is in bad shape; people are losing their jobs; companies and industries are teetering on the brink!

      NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS OR SERVICES!!

      No, this is not a pitch to get you to use my services or some joke. I am totally serious. Now IS the best time to advertise hard. Customers are getting more cautious with their money, times are hard, doubt and fear are the flavor of the day.

      But you and I are small businesses. We don't have a strong presence in the market. If we're going to survive this downturn or whatever you want to call it, we've got to be smarter about doing business. We need to maintain a presence in the mind of our customers! We need to call attention to the fact that we are still here. We need to advertise like there is no tomorrow, because if we don't - there may not be a tomorrow. No one is busting down your door to get what you are selling. Large companies and corporations can pulled back on their advertising spending because they have built up momentum over the years through frequent and consistent advertising - we have not.

      I am not talking about throwing money at people, I am talking about carefully and thoughtfully crafting a strong advertising message and reaching out to present and potential customers. Switch from a passive effort to an aggressive approach - get your name out there. Start looking at things differently:

      How can your community help support your business?

      What are some easy and inexpensive ways to get your name out there?

      What is it that you offer that sets you apart from everyone else?

      What is it customers want from you and how can you deliver on that need?

      I want to thank Lighthouse for waking me up. I was about to walk away from this forum because it had become something different from what it was when I joined a year ago. Then I read a comment from him on another post where he questioned whether this forum would be around for another year the way it is going. And I realized, I didn't come here to make money - my client base tends to be a lot larger. I came here to get a better understanding and maybe help folks along the way. Well, I decided that it was time to get back to that.

      I don't know everything about advertising but I am willing to help as many folks as possible by answering your questions about how to better advertise your business. I will not do it for you but I will help you by sharing my knowledge and experience. So, if you are interested in growing your business - post your questions and let's get to work. Let's go about making this forum what it should be. Any takers?

      Iwrite
        • Re: Advertise or die
          DomainDiva Ranger
          As I was watching TV this AM I saw a LOT of advertising for new luxury cars. HARD advertising for luxury cars. These car makers are after the small group of people that are 'well qualified' to get the credit (or pay cash) to purchase these vehicles. We as small business owners have to get the word out so that we survive....advertising and marketing is the way to do that.

          IWrite is a valuable member of our team and has worked closely with us to refine and present our message to the world. I for one am thankful that I decided early on that advertising and marketing were key components to the business success as well and even more thankful that I met IWrite!
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Advertise or die
            unclefester Wayfarer
            Thank you for staying and helping the rest of us.

            I also have a question, my property borders Wilson River hwy and does anyone know how hard it would be to put in a billboard on the property. Might be interested in leasing the land to a company that runs those large bill board, maybe for trade on advertising space on it. Let me know.

            Thanks
            Tim
              • Re: Advertise or die
                Iwrite Pioneer
                You're welcome. Contacting your local billboard companies about them using your land should be easy, the key is to get a fair price for the use of your land. I would contact them and find out what they charge for similar billboards along the same stretch of road. Remember that you aren't going to get that but it will give you an idea of what is fair.

                I would call as many outdoor companies as possibly for your area. The more bids, the better. Good luck.
              • Re: Advertise or die
                Lighthouse24 Ranger

                Mediums that sell advertising haven't "suffered" too much in this economy yet -- thanks to plenty of ads associated with a major election, the upcoming Holidays, and big companies that are trying to move some less-than-glorious products before year-end (luxury cars, Windows Vista, etc.).

                As a business owner, I'm predicting that come January, that will change -- and there might be some real bargains on advertising space and time, especially at the local level. So that might be another reason to underscore Iwrite's advice. There might be no better time than now for a small business that serves a local market to explore the idea of an ad campaign.
                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Advertise or die
                    Iwrite Pioneer
                    Amen. Even now, cable TV is starting to get really competitive with their prices and programs. I think the rest of the media will follow.

                    I just want to encourage people to think about the message now, so that when the time is right you will have a clear idea of what it is you want to say. Lighthouse hit the nail on the head - think about campaigns, not one shots. Plan for a continuous message. Establish yourself as an expert or the highest quality. Tell your story.
                  • Re: Advertise or die
                    puzzleman Tracker
                    About June of this year, I made the decision to increase our advertising as the production end of my business is running very well. My plan is to also increase my payroll by adding a production manager in July of 2009. This is so that I can spend more time on sales.

                    I am not changing my plans due to the economy. I feel that with things being financially tight right now for people, that they will look for the most bang for the buck. I am not talking about cutting prices or sales on items but rather increasing the awareness of quality and why my products are worth the price.

                    I also feel that the people who keep lowering their price till they are the lowest make their product a commodity. My thinking is that they will beat each other into the ground on the price and I can stay above the price fray.

                    So, to Iwrite, I agree. Keep on pushing the advertising and do it even harder if possible.

                    Jim
                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Advertise or die
                        Iwrite Pioneer
                        This is what the forum should be!!

                        Puzzleman has said a mouthful - he has a plan and he is sticking to it. Americans are strange consumers, charge too much and they think you are trying to take them, but charge too little and they believe something is wrong with what you are offering. Use your advertising to justify your price! Sure everyone loves free but no one values a free item as much as something that they paid for.

                        Hey, you guys didn't need me! I really wish everyone had a marketing plan as part of their business plan. I really do not believe this economy can turn around without the success of small and medium sized businesses.
                        • Re: Advertise or die
                          intechspecial Ranger
                          If the economy continues to head on its current path, we will find many businesses closing their doors.

                          Now is the time to step up what your offerings are, analyze the competition, and make sure all things are in order so that you are at the head of the pack.

                          The weak in business WILL NOT survive this tough time, or if they do they will barely even stay afloat.

                          Creativity and untapped markets should be the focus for businesses lacking success.

                          Unique and inexpensive ways of reaching this markets should be a core focus.
                        • Re: Advertise or die
                          unclefester Wayfarer
                          On the issue of inexpensive or free advertising has anyone had any luck posting advertising on local store community boards, such as Fred Meyer or Safeway. These are free and open to the public, seems that people take the cards and use them. I have not tried them myself yet.

                          Tim
                          • Re: Advertise or die
                            Iwrite Pioneer
                            I forgot to mention - please advertise in more than one way.

                            I am a huge fan of the web but how do you reach people when they aren't on the web? The same goes for radio, tv, print, direct mail, outdoor, and mobile. None of them will reach all the people you need to get your message to.

                            Get a better understanding of who your customers are, what they tend to do and find better ways to reach them using an advertising mix. Invest in a good website and support that with a flyer or a direct mail piece. Create engaging radio and carry that message over into your mobile messaging or your email campaign.

                            Don't forget web banners, community outreach (sponsor events, sports teams, and get involved with local schools, churches and civic organizations), and get out and meet people - you are your best advertising. Hand out coupons and talk to people.

                            Sometimes one thing works so well that we over look or forget that there are other ways to reach people.

                            I should have included this when I started this post. Sorry for missing it.
                              • Re: Advertise or die
                                puzzleman Tracker
                                Val Cards, I like as good deal as anyone else but I wonder why giving a discount will win life long customers. My goal is to have life long customers that sing my praises to everyone they know.

                                If you are looking for price shoppers, they will move to the next lowest price the next time they need you. so many people get caught up in the Walmart mentality that you that the only way to increase sales is to lower prices.

                                I sell myself and my products on their quality and have the customer feel good about their purchase. I want them to tell their friends, neighbors etc. about how great my products are. I have even told my customers that I charge more than my competitors and then told them why even though I charge more, in the long run my prices are a better buy. It takes courage to do so and it took me a while to get that brave.

                                Jim
                                  • Re: Advertise or die
                                    Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                    Puzzleman, I don't disagree with your position at all. Discounts do help attract FIRST TIME customers for some products and services. It's up to the business owner to ensure that they become LIFE LONG customers for reasons other than price after that.
                                      • Re: Advertise or die
                                        val_cards Scout
                                        Puzzleman, your point is extremely valid...it is up to the business owner who procures each new customer through effective advertising methods and develops customer loyalty by providing exceptional service along with a fair price.

                                        It is mind blowing to see the amounts of monies being spent advertising goods and services using traditional print ads...many a time these valuable savings offered are thrown in the trash because there's just too much being sent through the mail.

                                        Val-Card is environmentally friendly...the discounts and savings featured on Val-Card can be redeemed at the participating merchants listed on Val-Card for a period of 6 months with no coupons to cut. Val-Card itself is made of an environmentally friendly plastic that doesn't harm the environment when produced or discarded. visit: http://www.val-card.org/val-cards/

                                        I welcome your feedback and comments...Val
                                          • Re: Advertise or die
                                            Iwrite Pioneer
                                            I think the correct answer lies somewhere between the views expressed. Not all products need a discount to attract first time buyers but for some it may be necessary. I think Puzzleman cannot be ignored, he has shaped a message that explains the value of his product. His market may be smaller but that is a decision he has made and seems to accept. On the other hand, if I was in the food service business I might be interested in having a Val-Card. The difference is understanding your customers and how they view your product.

                                            What is missing is that small business owners leave it up to the customer to decide who or what the business is about - that is a mistake. I like what Puzzleman is doing because he is establishing his product as being of a higher quality. It sends a strong message to people buying for a loved one, it tells them that they are getting only the best. they may be purchasing an heirloom toy, something that can be passed down. He can charge more with this story, and should. I think the Val-Cards has great value for some and not so much for others. I don't want the store where I buy my business clothes to use it because it goes against their image in my head. But I would be happy if my favorite pizza place offered.

                                            It doesn't have to be one way or the other. It really boils down to the business and what they are trying to say to their customers. It starts with knowing and understanding them.

                                            It stills comes back to the message being communicated. Or at least it does for me.
                                              • Re: Advertise or die
                                                intechspecial Ranger

                                                Yes I was not trying to do anything but post my response to your topic, as well as your response to someone else.

                                                 


                                                I am sorry for the misunderstanding.
                                                • Re: Advertise or die
                                                  val_cards Scout
                                                  Dear Iwrite:

                                                  Re: I don't want the store where I buy my business clothes to use it because it goes against their image in my head. But I would be happy if my favorite pizza place offered.

                                                  I have never known anyone not to want a good merchandising deal that offers value, quality and increases sales.. I come from a menswear manufacturing family. It is my understanding that in todays economic climate all brands are offering discounts to drive in sales. However you may be a different type of consumer and I respect that.
                                                    • Re: Advertise or die
                                                      Iwrite Pioneer
                                                      val_cards,

                                                      May I call you "card?" Joke.

                                                      I am not that different. We all have something that we feel is worth the price we pay and are willing to pay that price. I did not say I don't get a discount at the clothing store, I said I didn't want this store to use it. The owner gives me a nice discount because of the volume and the amount of time I have been a customer. Would I prefer to have him give me your card and get the same discount as everyone else? No.

                                                      I like the exclusivity of this store. I love the service and I think the clothes look good on me. I feel that if he was to accept the card it would diminish the value I place on the store. And remember, he does give me a nice discount.

                                                      Now, to the owner of the store, the question is - do you risk devaluing how I see his store to attract a couple more folks who may or may not like what he carries and the prices he is charging? I don't know. I am only one customer but he has been in business for over 10 years with a very loyal group of customers.

                                                      The same is true for the fine dining places I like. I think it would do something to the experience if they took a discount card. I know I am not using it on my anniversary.

                                                      Advertising should build and strengthen your image. All I was saying is that to me, the card is not right for every business. Nothing is. And I would say something to the owner of the clothing store if he does.
                                                        • Re: Advertise or die
                                                          val_cards Scout
                                                          I once asked my Dad why he doesn't make more expensive clothing. His response: If we made more expensive items not everyone could afford them and then I would'nt be able to buy what I like.
                                                            • Re: Advertise or die
                                                              Iwrite Pioneer
                                                              And that is a decision ever business owners have to make. And I admire and respect that.

                                                              The things I said in my response to you are the insights we as business people tend to over look or discount. But why not accept them, and find a way to use them? How would you approach a high-end shop about your product, knowing there are customers like me out here? If you can't overcome the objection, move on. Some folks will not be sold. But knowing that there are people out here that are driven by more than a discount gives you a better picture of why things work or don't. It is part of the shaping of your message.

                                                              I saw a commercial for one of those rent to own places today and it got me to thinking - what if they changed their message to stress that in the absence of layaway in retail, use rent to own as a form of layaway? Think about how that changes the perception of the company?
                                                                • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                  intechspecial Ranger
                                                                  The economy is in wretched state, and it is getting much much worse every day.

                                                                  Any suggestions as to what our nation can do to prevent this?

                                                                  I am not speaking of politicians or corporate entities, or even the federal governemt, but I am speaking of is their a way, the average small business owner and/or blue collar can help?

                                                                  As times get worse, it will be more of "every man for himself", but you would think their might be a better way.

                                                                  Does anyone feel that their is a way for our country as a nation to unite to overcome the struggling economy, or am I completely alone on this idea?
                                                                • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                  puzzleman Tracker
                                                                  I think one of the things that we are missing is that not everyone is looking for the same customer. I have competitors in my field that stress price and that theirs is lower than mine. I feel the people looking for a lower price are price sensitive.

                                                                  I am looking for the people that are more aware of quality and service and don't mind if the price is a few dollars higher. Many times I have my customers say that even though my prices are a little higher, they are glad they bought mine due to the quality and customer service to back up the product.

                                                                  It is also my feeling that most people want something special and exclusive. I try to provide that product in my category. I also feel that if by selling a few less items at a higher price, I make more profit per unit. I still have to move a lot of units but not as many to stay afloat as my competition.

                                                                  As far as selling goes, I do not like the in your face selling tactics like the above person. Nor do I like the hit and run sales person. I want to know the story, why do you do what you do, what got you motivated to do it on your own. I like to have a relationship with whoever is trying to sell me, not feel like I am just another number on their spreadsheet.

                                                                  Jim
                                                                    • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                      Iwrite Pioneer
                                                                      I think you have said a lot Puzzleman. You have a clear idea of what you want your business to be, and how you want to grow it. That's what a business plan is for.

                                                                      Recognizing that customers are different is huge. This is why having a marketing plan is so important. Businesses need to recognize what motivates customers seeking their services or product. Price is not always the answer.

                                                                      There is a very nice book titled Small Giants by Bo Burlingham that talks about companies that choose to be great instead of big. It gives different perspective about how success is viewed.
                                                                        • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                          intechspecial Ranger
                                                                          Really for a business to be successful it must be pro-active in its marketing approach.

                                                                          A business without a well thought out and planned marketing strategy is sure to fail.

                                                                          So when it comes to business, if you do not market correctly, your business will not survive.

                                                                          So I guess the "advertise or die" is quite an accurate analogy.
                                                      • Re: Advertise or die
                                                        MarketSmarter Newbie
                                                        I couldn't agree more iWrite. But I am impressed that so many small businesses are getting the message. During the last downturn in 2000 - 2001 many of my clients cut their marketing budgets and then wondered where their sales went - especially as the economy rebounded. This go round my clients have made cuts in other places so they can continue to market - my challenge for them - and my challenge to all businesses - is to market smarter.

                                                        Marketing smarter is being willing to try new things, but ensuring the tracking mechanisms are in place to know what is working best. By understanding where your business is coming from, companies will be able to make their marketing investment go further. I share my thoughts on how companies can market smarter on http://smartermarketing.wordpress.com.
                                                          • Re: Advertise or die
                                                            dclgraphics Wayfarer
                                                            Great topic and great reply's on this subject, we do advertise with direct mail, and have a e-mailing campaign for our website. but what do say to a potential customer, and I quote (Even though you promote yourself as a way to grow the business, we don't want any form of advertisement whatsoever. My company is looking for additional work, not for others to try to suck up money we haven't even earned yet.) any advise on this.

                                                             


                                                            David C. Lopez
                                                            DCL Graphics
                                                              • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                Iwrite Pioneer
                                                                dclgraphics,

                                                                Great question. Some clients are not ready mentally or financially to row their business. It is important to recognize which prospects are viable or not.

                                                                But if you want to address that comment, I would actually say:

                                                                " We are a small business also, and I understand the challenges. I'm not trying to sell you something you do not want but how are you going to grow your business without attracting new customers? Word of Mouth will take you so far and having a website helps but you are going to have to find a way to get your name out there. Here are some things that you can do for yourself that might help you grow your business (and give them a short list of things they can do). If you have any questions or concerns feel free to give me a call - I am happy to provide information at no charge. Hey, we are all in the same position."

                                                                And every two weeks or so I would call to check on them to make sure they don't have any questions, but you have to let them come to understand why they need to advertise on their own. You cannot force people to buy or use a product or service - you can present the information and what they do with it is up to them.

                                                                Learn to sell better. Add information to your website addressing the potential hurdles your customer may have. Write a blog or column on your site that educates and informs. You can even do an electronic newsletter or a direct mail newsletter. The better educated prospects are the less selling you have to do.

                                                                Thank you for asking this. I don't give up on potential clients that I believe I can truly help, I just try to find new ways to do it. I hope that helps.

                                                                Thanks again.
                                                                • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                  puzzleman Tracker
                                                                  My response would have been something like: I realize that you don't want to gamble on attracting more customers with me. However, didn't you take a gamble when you started this business? How did you get started? Then I would follow up with the questions showing how I would fit into their program in the past. Leave them with the thought that you could have helped him even more in the past and can help in the future. Then call back in a few weeks.

                                                                  Since you are in the graphics business, how about asking if he remembers any ads? Those are graphics.

                                                                  Jim
                                                                    • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                      dclgraphics Wayfarer
                                                                      Thanks for the replies, I think one of the biggest mistake as a small business we make is looking at marketing as inexpense as to a business expense, an investment to grow you business and a tax write-off.

                                                                       


                                                                      David C. Lopez
                                                                      DCL Graphics
                                                                        • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                          Iwrite Pioneer
                                                                          Large and medium sized companies make the same mistake - the stories I could tell. Advertising agencies are constantly having to justify their advertising efforts to clients. Some get it, some don't.

                                                                          The other mistake is thinking anyone can do what advertising professionals do. Small business owners end up hiring or working with someone who doesn't have the skills or experience to realy help the client grow their business but they had the cheapest rates.
                                                                  • Re: Advertise or die
                                                                    val_cards Scout
                                                                    Iwrite I couldn't agree with you more. Quick Question for everyone needing to beef up their advertising in the coming months.

                                                                    How does everyone feel about a totally green advertising vehicle that stays in the wallets of consumer for a period of 6 or 12 months and is reinforced with every purchase and will not harm the environment when disposed of? for more details: http://www.val-card.org/val-cards/