General

Are Your Ads In The Right Place?

We see so many advertisements in a single day that often we tune them out.  A glance tells us all we need to know and whether we are interested in the product or not.  Advertising can be hit or miss, but you can save more money if you hit most of the time.  Are you advertising your business in the right places?

About twenty or thirty years ago, advertising was not as sophisticated as it is now.  Even now, with more traditional methods of advertising, the proof is in the sales at the end of the quarter or in the monthly receipts.  An advertising campaign implemented in January can be evaluated in April as to its effectiveness.  That’s a long time to wait to find out that your strategy wasn’t as successful as you’d hoped.

What are your business needs?  One of them is data analysis.  This is how statistics are generated — from the hundreds or thousands of numbers and demographic datasets compiled by research companies and company reports.  With the Internet, that information can be in your hand in a much shorter length of time.  You can find out almost immediately if the advertising method you chose is working.

Choose a variety of advertising methods.  This includes a mix of on and offline tools.  Online, software has been created that allows website users to track unique data for their sites.

You can determine how many unique visitors come to your site.  With ad programs like Google AdWords and banner ads, you learn the click-through rate for your ads.  Online coupons can be tagged with code or a numbered sequence to track when and if they are redeemed.  If the numbers steadily go down with online coupons, it’s time to try something else.

Opt-in tools like free registration or referral systems increase the information you know about your customers.  With names, addresses, and email, you can see where your customer base is centered.  With this information you can create personal emails to target certain customers.  Adding links to your site in the email can track those who use it to visit you.

With more traditional methods of advertising, the analysis comes a lot slower.  To speed up the process, you can form focus groups, send out questionnaires yourself, or hire a research company to conduct surveys through the mail.  They do it for a living, so they’ll have more time to analyze this data.

Spikes in sales will be noticed even if they can’t be quantified.  If you have ten people on average in your store through the week and, after you’ve placed your ad in the newspaper you have three times as many, you’d think that advertising rate was a winner.  You are gaining more traffic.  Once they are in the door, it is up to you to seal the deal.

There is no question that Internet advertising methods bring a quicker evaluation of the results of your efforts.  That doesn’t mean that traditional methods won’t work.  With both, look to methods that will reach your target audience.

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General

Make Your Advertising Work For You

In order for your advertising to perform optimally, that is for it to generate the awareness and sales you desire, it’s imperative that you create a system to test and track your results.  Tracking will tell you how your advertisement is performing and testing will tell you which specific variables, like your headline, work the best.  Here’s how to make advertising work for you.

Step One:  Find the right tools for the job.  Google analytics does a wonderful job of tracking website data.  Creating an advertising strategy whereby you can track the click through rates of specific advertisements will go a long way toward providing the information you need.

Additionally, if you’re using AdWords or other pay per click search engine advertising methods then they’ll provide the necessary data.

In order to tweak an ad for optimal results, many business owners use a system called Split Testing or multivariate testing. This method involves testing the results from two different variables in the same advertising campaign.  The results are tracked over a specified period of time   There are many software programs which will facilitate a complex multivariate testing strategy however, it can also be as simple as sending the viewers of each different advertisement to a unique webpage and tracking the results.

Step Two:  Decide what to test.  You can split test just about anything from the headline to the background color in your banner ad or your call to action.  The most useful items to test include:

* Keywords
* Graphics
* Copy
* Headlines
* Price points
* Photos
* Bonus offers
* Text links
* Calls to action

The most important thing to remember is to keep everything constant except the item you’re testing.  This means that if you’re testing to see if a particular keyword works better in a PPC campaign, the advertisement has to remain exactly the same for both keywords.

At this point you’ve chosen your ad type, you’ve chosen a location to advertise, you’ve written your ad and you’ve created ways to test the ad to analyze effectiveness.  You’re ready to start advertising and testing and tracking your results for maximum effectiveness and return on investment.

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General

It’s All About The Brand

In today’s society, we associate different products with tag lines and commercials.  This is all a part of brand recognition.  Just to hear the name of a brand brings to mind the type of quality and the type of advertising associated with it.  Brand recognition is a desired achievement for anyone in business.

You might not be Nike or Pepsi, but who’s to say that one day your product won’t instill the same loyalty?  Brand recognition is not just a tangible quality but also an intangible feeling.  We can touch a product, use it, and determine if we like it.  The intangible feeling is how a brand is perceived by the public.

A business that markets a product knows their product.  How does it feel, taste, sound?  What makes it stand out from the rest?  There are plenty of sodas on the market but Pepsi and Coca-cola are the names that people can quote you off the top of their heads.  It could be the flavor or the design of the logo.

You can achieve brand recognition with your product.  Let the customers associate positive words with your product and increase your sales.  Here’s how:

1.  Determine what sets your product apart from others.  It could be that you are a small business with home-made products.  The home-made stitching or lettering spells quality and that is what you want people to know.  Maybe prompt customer service is your brand or timely delivery.

2.  Poll your customers.  The best way to find out anything is to ask.  What do they think of your product?  Online surveys and quality assurance measures create information that you can use to tweak your product or service, until it reaches the level that satisfies customers completely.  You can use focus groups or telephone calls to determine how well or not well you product is doing.

3.  Make your unique brand a reality.  Use the information from various sources to give life to your brand.  If you offer home-made dolls or cloth napkins, or a dating service, advertise using your special quality.  It can help with developing a daring new logo or a tagline.  Demonstrate to each customer your brand in action every time they come to your website.

4.  Use other media to promote your brand.  Advertise on websites; make short videos, newspapers, and the like to bring attention to your brand.  Customers can choose your product over a similar one because you have free shipping or an excellent return and exchange policy.

A brand helps a business to survive in the tough market where there are plenty of products to choose from.  Yours will stand above the others with a brand that adequately represents your company and is demonstrated to each customer.

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Crissy Says

What would your teenage self think of you today?

I was recently asked a very interesting question during an interview… I was asked, as a little girl, what did I want to be when I grew up? (by the way, it was the  PNN.com Podcast “Cereals,” and you can listen by clicking here).

It just so happens that I had been thinking about that in the days before the interview. I had just completed my site redesign. For inspiration, I had been watching old episodes of  My So-Called Life. Whenever I need a creativity boost, or  if I have a problem that I’m trying to figure out, I always go back to that show.

I was a senior in high school when that show originally aired, and when I watch that show I am immediately transported back to the early to mid-ninties. There’s something special about those years – back when I thought I knew everything, when I was so sure of the world and my place in it.

Watching that show helps me remember who I really am at my core. And of course, who I wanted to grow up to be.

Let me tell you – if you ever have a doubt about anything in your life, think about yourself as a fifteen year old and what they would have thought of your choices today. Would your younger self be pleased with you? Or would they roll their eyes in disgust and think you grew up to be totally out of it?

So I guess that brings us back to the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up…

Well, I remember watching reruns of Bewitched back before I was in school, and thinking that Darren had a really cool gig. I mean, he just thought up advertising and commercials. I could do that! And then when I got to school, I thought it would be really neat to be a teacher. I loved reading. I loved learning. If I were a teacher, I could be in school forever!

But then, when I was 8 something else happened… Oprah went national, and I thought “WOW!”  She got paid to talk to people! How cool was that?

And then, when I was a teenager, I came up with my idea for a television network. Yep, that’s right. My own television network. I dreamed big. And why not? You should be dreaming big when you are sixteen years old!

So flash forward to the present. I don’t have a tv network, but my website is pretty similar. And the internet has pretty much taken over what tv used to be, so I’m right on track with that. I may not be employed by an ad firm like Darren was, but I’m still all about the marketing and advertising. And I’m definitely a teacher of sorts. Don’t forget that I made my talk show dreams come true in the form of my podcast…

When I look back, I think it’s pretty crazy that I have managed to take all the things I wanted to do and melt them into one career….

If my 15 year old self saw what my life would look like as a 31 year old, I think she would think I was pretty freakin’ cool. And that makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

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Managing Your Biz

Avoid These Newsletter Mistakes

I am a firm believer in the fact that every business should be sending out a newsletter. It is one of the best ways to market your business! It’s affordable, easy to get started, helps you develop a relationship with potential customers, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. I really can’t say enough about how wonderful newsletters are!

That doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games on Easy Street… Marketing with newsletters can be a bit tricky. The following are some common mistakes people make with their newsletters (and tips on how to avoid making them in your own business!)

* Unprofessional design: If a newsletter looks sloppy or unprofessional, it may lend a bad image to your business. For best results, a business’ newsletter design should look similar to their website. This will create brand recognition and help your subscribers remember that they signed up for your newsletter.

* Misspelled words or bad grammar: When a potential customer reads a newsletter full of misspellings or bad grammar, they may assume that the business owner is equally sloppy with everything about their business. They may not want to buy the business’ products or services for fear that they will be poor quality.

* Outside advertising: Some business owners earn quite a bit of money through accepting outside advertising in their newsletters. And this business model may work well for your own business. However, before you decide to go down this path, it is best to think twice.

When a newsletter includes information about your business and links to your site, you are giving your readers a reason to visit your site. When you accept outside ads, you are giving your readers a reason to visit someone else’s site.

Would it be more beneficial to your business, and your bank account, to have people visiting your site or someone else’s?

* Content not focused on target market: The most important thing to leave out of a newsletter is content which is not focused on a business’ target market. A person subscribes to a newsletter because they want to receive information on a certain topic. If the newsletter doesn’t contain info on that topic, the subscribers will likely become frustrated and stop reading.

If done right, a newsletter can be a great business tool. It can serve as a wonderful way to communicate with your customers and bring in new sales. By using the above tips to know what to stay away from, your newsletter will be on the road to success.

*** Want to send out your own newsletter, but don’t have time to write it? Try the pre-written newsletters at Quick And Easy Newsletters. All you have to do is customize them and send them. It couldn’t be any simpler!

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