What Can We Learn About Advertising From March Madness?

MarchMadness

This time of year much of the programming on television is dedicated to March Madness.  For about six weeks in March and April the content of hundreds of college basketball games fill the schedules of multiple networks.

If you are watching many of these games surely you noticed there are a ton of advertisements.  In a college game there are a minimum of eight television timeouts, in addition to the five timeouts each team has available to them in every game.  Because of all these timeouts it’s no doubt that you could easily name more than five brands that are continuously being promoted during all these breaks.  Obviously there is a lot of value to putting those brands in March Madness to make sure you recognize them.

March Madness is an event.  That event is what brings the viewers, which brings the advertisers.  It’s the event that makes it extraordinarily easy for the advertisers to get the most viewers in the smallest amount of time and space.

Unlike a handful of advertisers, the vast majority of businesses can’t afford the prices charged for advertising during an event such as March Madness.  If your business can’t afford those prices, does that mean you are out of luck, or should you create your own “event” instead?

Actually, neither.

Fortunately, your business can benefit from built-in “events” throughout the year that don’t have outrageous advertising rates attached to them.  One such “event” has to do with the change of seasons throughout the year.

Take advantage of the change of the seasons.  Consumers almost instinctively adjust their buying habits on a seasonal basis.  Consumers are active during seasonal changes and you can make money from this by asking for their business at these specific times.  One of the biggest benefits of the change of seasons “event” is that you don’t have to pay a premium to participate.  There’s no extra fee or producer of the event to charge outrageous advertising fees.  Get active promotionally during these times and adjust your offerings according to the seasons.  Even if you don’t have a seasonal product or service, it doesn’t matter.  You can always adjust pricing or add-ons in order to make your offerings more attractive and valuable to consumers when they might not have otherwise been thinking of you.

Keep this in mind though, if you don’t get proactive about marketing your products and services at key times of the year, someone else will.  Who do you think would earn that business?

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Part 2

Posted by Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste: a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part Two

Welcome to the second part of our three part series on how to STOP wasting your marketing money on ineffective advertising. Our first part introduced the idea of the cluttered “kitchen sink” ad, and explained why this ad is not conducive to driving business; you can catch up with part one here (link).

Today we move on to part two, but first we want you to remind you of the premise we suggested you keep in mind throughout the series:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to do business with you.

Part 2: Minimizing Impact & Results with the Minimalist

A quick note before we dive in: minimalist ads can work if done correctly. Such ads require both a strong visual and either a strong brand – think of ad campaigns by companies such as Apple, Absolut Vodka, and Volkswagon – or a strong message. See here and here  for some examples of striking and effective minimalist ads; both galleries contain sexually suggestive material, so please use caution when clicking. You will see that it is possible to produce a successful minimalist ad, but bear in mind that these ads are often intended to build awareness (educate) and not necessarily encourage direct action.

Yet, business owners still produce these ads in hopes of drumming up business NOW. The minimalist is the opposite of the kitchen sink method from our last post. Where the kitchen sink ad overwhelms prospects with a glut of information, the minimalist ad barely gives prospects enough information to even make them take notice. These ads typically include the business’ name, address, and phone number – with the occasional website address or haphazard visual thrown in for flavor. While avoiding the issue of clutter that beleaguers the kitchen sink ad, minimalist ads provide little or no information on the products or services offered and give prospects no reason to call.

This another easy mistake to make; you spend nearly every waking moment building and nurturing your business and know it like the back of your hand. Chances are, your immediate friends and family share this familiarity with what you do, and it becomes easy to live in a bubble where your business’ name is directly connected to what you offer. Remember that advertising requires that we think like consumers, not business owners – and consumers live outside our bubble! It’s OK to test the minimalist waters, but at least start by adding a little something to your ad that will make prospects give you a call. It is as simple as adding a basic offer to your ad – this will be your call to action. It is what makes consumers act upon your ad, and it is also the third and most common way business owners blow their marketing dollars.

Join us next time for our third and final installment in this series, “Sealing the Deal Like the Godfather: How to Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse.” Ring-kissing is optional!

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A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing To Waste: Part 1

posted by: Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste:a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part One

Here is the worst-kept secret in business: business owners everywhere are currently wasting money on marketing. These bold entrepreneurs aren’t throwing their hard-earned dollars away on purpose. In fact, these men and women are most likely acting very purposefully. They approach marketing with the same vigor and spirit with which they approach other aspects of their business. This is admirable – but it is a mistake! Marketing requires that we approach our business not as an owner, but as a consumer.

This three-part series will explore some common advertising mistakes and help you avoid wasting money on marketing that simply won’t work. The first two parts in the series look at two types of ads – “the kitchen sink” and “the minimalist.” We will explain the problems with each ad type, and discuss how to improve these ads so that they generate revenue for your business. Our third and final part in the series will explain how to create “The Godfather” clause in your ad; that is, the offer that your prospect can’t refuse.

Before we move on to begin our discussion with “the kitchen sink” ad type, we want you to keep the following premise in mind throughout the series:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to contact you to do business.

Part 1: “The Kitchen Sink” & Overwhelming the Consumer with Your Ad.

This ad type is called “the kitchen sink” because it has everything – literally! It has each product and service you offer, before-and-after pictures, blurbs from satisfied customers, the addresses and phone numbers for each of your five area locations, multiple discounts enclosed by dashed lines, and even a picture of your children with your pets topped with a giant yellow starburst on the front that screams out DARE TO COMPARE!!!

What does an ad like this accomplish? They’re certainly informative, which helps educate consumers, and the discounts may be enough to bring business your way – assuming consumers can find them amidst the clutter. And that is the problem with these ads! They are so overwhelming that prospects don’t know where to look or what to think. There is no clear message, aside from the desperate plea of PLEASE, PLEASE BUY FROM ME. PLEASE. And a business relationship is similar to a romantic relationship, in that desperation is a complete turn-off.

This mistake is easy to make; you have worked hard to build your business, and every aspect is important to you, which makes it tough to trim the fat from a busy ad. But trim you must! Instead of featuring every product or service, pick 1 or 2 to highlight; include one or two images – and leave Junior and Fluffy out of them; only list your main location(s) and website address; and above all, keep the design clean and easy-to-read. The best ad is the one that gives the consumer just enough information to make her curious without sending her into information overload.

What happens when you trim too much? Find out in our next installment in this series: “The Minimalist” is coming up next!