Advertising is one of those necessary evils that is one of your biggest but most necessary gambles as a business owner. Where you place your advertising can affect how many people see your message, which people see you, and you will certainly find no shortage of places to advertise. The trick is advertising smart, not just a lot.
Advertising is a gamble, which has a payoff ratio that goes from zero on up. The goal of any advertiser is to increase that ratio as much as you can and get your return on your investment back as soon as possible. With any advertising campaign, you can and will hit both winners or losers. Sometimes, you can even make the smart choice that has worked well for others, but it just doesn’t work well for you.
Doing your advertising homework
Before going into any advertising campaign, it is essential that you do a bit of homework and understand what it is that you wish to accomplish. It is also essential that you understand who your audience is and what drives them to purchase your services. This is not necessarily as easy or as obvious as it sounds like it should be.
Are seniors your real target market? Or are seniors just the people that you supply services to? Either way, seniors are not necessarily your only target market and probably not your biggest one. Most often, their adult children are the people that you want to reach.
Keep in mind that other people will make referrals for you too. Therefore, you might also be targeting professionals in a complementary industry such as the medical field, hospital social workers, and other professionals who you would like to have make recommendations of your services and company.
The family target
Now that you’ve isolated the target markets, what is the reason they buy your services? Many business owners would say that family members buy services because the services are needed, that the senior cannot adequately take care, or that there are medical circumstances that demand extra care. Though these may be facts, none of those are the REASONS that families buy services from you.
Families buy your services for emotional reasons, and these emotions are about how they feel about their family member. They buy them because of their love for their parent and/or sometimes out of obligation or personal guilt. Sometimes the emotional reasons are complex, and people buy your services and are more centered around the adult child such as for respite care.
Your advertising goal
When designing your company advertising, don't go for the sale. That sounds a bit strange since the ultimate goal of any business is the sale. But that's not why you do advertising. Only you can make this kind of sale and the goal of your advertising is to get them to call you... that's it!
You can in fact, shoot your sale in the foot by trying to go for the sale:
1) Consider the ad copy that goes on and on and on, trying to convince you that their product/service is the best thing out there. Do you really want to read about any product from any company for 15 minutes? No! You want to know a few basic things and then talk to the company rep who can handle your personal questions.
2) If you answer all of their questions, they simply do not need to call you. They have their info and they can check out someone else. The only difference is, they might just talk to their rep and if they do, then that rep makes the personal connection
3) Let's face it. Consumers do not read on and on. You will be amazed how often Joe Consumer will ask questions rather than take the time to read it for themselves. In other words, most ad copy is completely wasted and so is the paper that it is printed on and the money spent to purchase it.
Your goal is to get them to call you so that you can make the sale.
The professional target
Professionals also make decisions to recommend your services based on their emotions. Consider some time when you’ve made a professional recommendation of another company to one of your clients, and then been let down.
Most professionals get a bit upset when this happens and they are hard pressed to make that recommendation to another client ever again. Why? Self-survival and professional ego. You feel like the lack of performance of the person that you recommended is a direct reflection on you and your professionalism. Nobody wants their reputation to suffer, let alone because of the actions of someone they recommended.
Therefore, when you are communicating your advertising message to other professionals, it is imperative that you assure them of the professionalism of your services and that if they make a recommendation to you, they won't be sorry later.
All other things being equal, the consumer will buy from the company that they feel they can trust the most and professionals will only make recommendations to companies that they believe will not let them down.
Every business owner has had it happen. They dreamed that advertising in a certain publication will net them dozens of clients in the first month. Then they wake up to the fact a couple of days or a week later that they have once again, NOT hit the advertising jackpot.
Advertising simply doesn't work that way and if it did, most small businesses could not afford to do it. Any ad space that will make your phone ring off the hook is worth phenomenal dollars upfront because the demand for the space goes up and therefore, so does the cost.
There are many ways that the advertising message can be delivered, all of which will be through some ad medium such as a newspaper, the Internet, television, radio, and even your company brochures. All of these advertising mediums may be effective if used properly and consistently over time. However, no advertising method is worthwhile if you just shotgun it or try it a short time and then stop when it doesn't seem effective.
Even amongst consumers that need your services, 98% will not bother to call you the first time they see your ad. Maybe they are short on time or they are just looking around. Often, consumers will simply procrastinate and just not make the call. They will make a mental note of where they saw the advertisement and come back an hour, a day, a week or even months later. If your ad has disappeared, you've just lost a client.
While it can happen that your advertising will get you a phone call or two right away, your biggest success will be advertising to the one that doesn't have a need yet, but will need it in the near future. Most home services are not subscribed to on the spur of the moment. The adult child knows these services will be required and is putting them off until something happens that triggers the call within a day or two.
They may not be ready to call you yet, but they do start to listen and pay attention. In the consumer's mind, it is part of the learning process for making a decision that will need to be made a month or 6 months from now.
This is particularly true in advertising for home services where the cost is high and where there is an emotional consideration in making the decision. This is the time that they start to learn who the potential service providers are. If they don't see or hear your name now, you stand less chance of getting the call when they do need service.
Along with deciding who their potential services providers are, the consumer starts paying attention to where they find the advertising for such things. You will often see people bookmark certain sites or at least make a mental note over where they heard an ad. When the times comes to make that decision, they are then going to their resources, not starting the investigative procedures.
Advertising consistency is the key to higher performance. A single ad may get you that lucky immediate need. But if you measure your success on whether you got that initial shot, then chances are that you will have lost about 98% of your advertising potential.
Advertising is a long-term commitment and one that should only be entered into when you are ready to stick with it for awhile. Not every ad spot is worth your time, so use some common sense in doing so. But once you make that decision, don't give up on it easily.