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Jenna Bruce

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10 Marketing Mistakes That Will Kill Your Business

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 @ 02:30 PM

Small business owners eat, sleep and breathe revenue. Much of their day is spent thinking of how to gain more customers and increase that bottom line. Far too often, however, they don’t give enough thought as to whether or not their marketing tactics are helping them reach these objectives.

In an effort to help you grow your business, here are 10 common marketing mistakes that have the potential to kill it:

  1. Trying to be Everywhere

There’s no denying an integrated marketing campaign has the power to reach the right audience at the right time to deliver just the right message. But trying to be in too many places at once is a recipe for disaster.

There’s no need to create 10 social media accounts or try to get into every local newspaper and magazine. You will never be able to do something meaningful on all of those channels, not even if you have a marketing department with dozens of staff working around the clock.

Instead of spreading yourself too thin, find out which channels will work on your behalf and focus only on those.

  1. Selling Too Soon

Selling and dating are pretty similar. Just as you wouldn’t (or at last shouldn’t) ask someone to move in with you on a first date, you also shouldn’t ask your prospect to buy from you right away. Most consumers need to be convinced they should part with their money. Nurture prospects all the way through the sales funnel by creating interest, offering value, educating and THEN closing the sale.

  1. Creating Dull Content

Are you creating content that you feel will really help and excite your audience, or are you creating content because you’ve been told you have to? If it’s the latter, chances are the content you’re putting out is pretty dull (and I’m being kind). Think about it from your prospects’ point of view: if this is the kind of content you create, how good can your product or service really be?

If you create content not because you should, but because you really want to help your customers, it will be easier to do and the results will blow your mind.

  1. Targeting a Demographic Instead of a Niche

Have you been attempting to market to a group that is too broadly defined? You’d have a much easier time roller skating backwards up a rusty ladder. Instead of marketing to a demographic, say young males between the ages of 18 – 35, figure out what niche you want to focus on. Learn more about these young men.

What are their hobbies? Where do they hang out? What are their fears and aspirations? What is their level of education? How much money do they make? Where do they live? How do they make buying decisions?

  1. Not Tracking or Measuring Results

Many business owners look to revenue to see if a marketing campaign is working or not. The problem with this method is you can’t determine which marketing channel or tactic is working exactly.

For best results, use key performance indicators (KPIs) to better understand if your efforts are paying off. Also, you should always tweak your tactics and measure those specific results.Keys to Success - Concept on Golden Keychain over Black Wooden Background. Closeup View, Selective Focus, 3D Render. Toned Image..jpeg

For example, if you changed the wording of an ad headline, measure the impact of those changes. If you changed the day of the week you sent your email, measure how that tweak impacted your open rates.

  1. Ignoring the Competition

The most successful businesses are the ones that study what their competitors are doing right and wrong. They know how these other businesses are marketing to their own customers, what mistakes they’ve made, and what works best for them. Then, they copy and adjust for their own campaigns.

  1. Having Crappy Landing Pages

Imagine being on a plane that’s about to land at its final destination. You look out the little window and see the landing strip is riddled with giant potholes and broken pieces of glass. You are of course horrified and hold on for what’s sure to be a bumpy landing.

Your landing page is also an important destination in your customers’ journey. You want their landing to be smooth and pleasant. A great landing page will help get you more email subscribers, followers, leads, and ultimately sales.

  1. Missing the Importance of Local Search

Local search connects customers who are actively looking for local products and services to the companies who are effectively promoting those products and services. If you’re ignoring local search, you’re missing out on revenue – big time.

  1. Not Asking for Customer Feedback

Most businesses owners fear bad reviews, yet they do very little to ensure they get positive reviews. The key is to be upfront and ask your fans for honest reviews, while learning how you can improve from any negative reviews you get.Business man pointing the text What Our Customers Are Saying.jpeg

  1. Failing to Work with the Right Media Buyer

Marketing is a skill that requires many hours (read years) of practice. In many ways, it is part science and part artform. Business owners simply don’t have the time to understand how every channel works and how to negotiate the best contracts with sales reps. By working with a media buyer, can dramatically help your campaigns perform better.

If you’re not currently working with a professional media buyer, there’s a good chance you’re wasting time and money on campaigns that underperform. Get in touch with us today. We’ll deliver the ROI you need to be successful.

Topics: integrate print and digital, media buyer, media planning, KPIs, ROI, Key Performance Indicators

PR Tips for SMBs

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

“There is only one thing worse in the world than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

~ Oscar Wild

Oscar and other famous people throughout history have eluded to the fact that there is no such thing as bad publicity. And while there may be some truth to that, the fact is, many SMB owners know firsthand that getting publicity can be incredibly challenging thanks to limited resources and staff.

Here are some of our favorite ways SMBs can leverage the power of PR and get their name in the news.

Tell Customer Stories

In many ways, a PR campaign is no different than other forms of advertising, and by that I mean you should always be customer-focused. Your message should never be about how great your products or services are, but how much they help the people in your local community.

Your brand’s story should be a curation of your customer’s stories. Contact some of your most loyal customers (AKA – your biggest fans) to find out how your business has helped them and how they personally use your product or service.

Once you speak with enough customers, you’ll get a sense of how they are interacting with your business and how your company is positively impacting your community. And, once you know this, you can contact some local journalists to see if someone might be interested in helping you share these stories.

Hijack the News

You may have heard the term “newsjacking” but weren’t exactly sure what it meant or how it could benefit your bottom line.

This approach entails keeping your eye on any breaking news that might be relevant to your business and then piggybacking on it to try and get your company into the story. This can be a powerful meth od to help SMBs break into the news cycle and expand their reach.

Hand with marker writing the word Trends-1.jpeg

Of course, as with most successes in life, timing is everything. With newsjacking, you’ve got to be able to move on a story right after it’s broken, when journalists are scrambling to get fresh perspectives and additional information.

For instance, a bakery in Dallas hopped onto the popular spinner trend and created a fidget spinner cookie that got the attention of top publications.

You may also want to hijack the news when you know it is about to break, as in the case of knowing an upcoming event or a report being released about your local economy.

You might be thinking you don’t have time to follow news cycles, but you can use something like Google alerts for key terms related to your industry, and updates will be emailed to you.

Tap into Thought Leadership

Local business owners have two big advantages: they know their industry, and they know what their customers want or need. You should be using this knowledge to your advantage.

Here’s a perfect example of what leveraging thought leadership might look like:

A small business PR strategy resulted in this Philly.com article that interviewed the owner of Body Cycle Studio in Philadelphia to discuss his favorite workout songs – plus he created a playlist. How much extra business do you think this article helped him get? Plenty.

At the end of the day, getting local press coverage will take some effort and commitment. Don’t feel discouraged if your first 10 pitches for stories get rejected – that’s simply the nature of the beast, as journalists get hundreds of pitches, sometimes in a single day.

But this is a numbers game. If you keep at it, you will eventually land in your local news cycle and your business will be rewarded handsomely for your efforts.

Topics: advertising, advertising strategy, public relations

4 Ways to Tank Your Social Media Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Thu, Jun 01, 2017 @ 04:11 PM

Reaching and engaging customers via the proliferation of social media channels has become a huge priority for most businesses. And yet many of these companies create and post pointless, promoted posts, sharing information none of their customers really cares about.

The result: wasted ad spend on campaigns that fail to cut through the digital noise and drive action.

How do companies tank their social media campaigns over and over again? By making one or more of the following mistakes:

  1. Having No Strategy

It’s said you can’t get to your destination without a roadmap. You can, as long as you don’t know where you’re going.Business man pointing to transparent board with text What's your Online Marketing Strategy?.jpeg

While you don’t have to plan out every single tweet or Facebook post verbatim, you DO have to plan what content and events you are going to create content around.

You also must do a bit of research to determine which channels are the right ones for your business. Despite what you may think, you do not have to have a presence on every single social media channel. Trying to maintain myriad SM accounts will spread your marketing team too thin and waste precious resources.


Instead, determine WHO your customers are and WHERE they choose to get their information. If you’re a B2B company, you may find you only need to be on LinkedIn to get excellent reach. Other companies may find Facebook and Google+ work well, while others Instagram and Youtube.

  1. Not Acting Like a Human Being

If you’ve been focused on traditional advertising channels like newspapers and TV ads, you may stumble a bit when first using social media. That’s because traditional advertising incorporates one-way messaging. You talk – they listen.

But social media is a digital conversation. This means you have to be the HUMAN behind the company and engage with your customers, not sell to them all of the time. This will entail listening to their problems and offering real help, or just offering a smile in the form of a funny photo.

With social media, you want to throw a party, invite all of your prospects, and then be the life of your own party.

  1. Not Bothering to Automate

You probably already know this, but it bears repeating: social media marketing isn’t something you do once a month. It’s definitely a commitment of time, and since so many small business owners have very little time, the best thing they can do is prepare a chunk of content ahead of time, then load it all up into a robust automation tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. A set-it-and-forget-it approach will help you be consistent with posting.

Just be sure to spend a little time each week (or assign the task to someone else) responding to comments and answering any customer questions that may pop up.

  1. Not Bothering to Measure

How do you know if your social media campaigns have been successful if you don’t measure them?

Besides reach, one of the other main benefits of social media is it can be predictably analyzed. SM can be easily broken down into analytical definitions like retweets, replies, mentions, and engagement.

It’s important to set some realistic metrics for your campaign (150 retweets) before you launch, then see if you were successful or not. If not, tweak and refine your content strategy and check to make sure you chose the right channels and right time of day to reach your audience.

Social media can be a great addition to an integrated campaign, but if you want this channel to work for you, you’ve got to read this post one more time to ensure you don’t make any of these common mistakes.

Topics: online, social media, online advertising, social media engagement, integrate print and digital, Twitter, Facebook

3 Steps to Finding the Right Media Buyer for Your SMB

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, May 22, 2017 @ 02:09 PM

We’re often asked why a company should work with a media buyer when they can execute their own media buys. After all, media buyers are an added expense to a sometimes already-tight advertising budget.

Think of it this way: you can technically gut your home and renovate it yourself to save money, but you’ll often end up paying more for your mistakes and the results will not be nearly as good (or livable) had you worked with a reputable and qualified contractor.

Media buyers eat, sleep, and breathe media. They make it their business to understand advertising trends and channels, and have spent sometimes years building relationships with publishers and sales reps. All of this means they can negotiate the best contracts on your behalf and help you choose a strategy that will reap the biggest rewards.

If you’re tired of struggling with your media buys and would like to work with a professional buyer, here are 3 steps to find the right buyer for your SMB.

Step 1: Know What it is You Need

Each media buying agency is unique and offers different levels of service and expertise. Before you start meeting with prospective buyers, sit down with your team and determine what it is exactly that you need help with. If you determine you need help with just about everything, from planning to post launch, make sure your media buyer is able (and willing) to help you on all fronts.

Step 2: Ask the Right Questions

Eventually you’ll sit down with a few buyers to see who might be a good fit. When you do, be sure to ask the following:

Will they customize a plan for you? A one-size-fits-all solution won’t cut it in advertising, so be sure to ask if the media buyer is willing and able Orange Button with Customize on Black Computer Keyboard. Business Concept..jpegto customize a plan specifically with your goals and budget in mind.

What do they specialize in? If you know your target audience can be reached more easily via traditional channels like radio and print, then a buyer who specializes in digital media won’t be a big help to you or your budget. Find out whether the agency specializes in a particular area.

What’s their track record? Like any other service provider, it’s important that you know two things: 1) how long they’ve been in business and 2) what kind of successes they have had in the past.

While every media buyer is going to be new at some point, you want to make sure you work with someone who has at least a few years under their belt. You also want to know if they have a history of helping companies like yours with similar goals. Ask for references before signing on the dotted line.

Do they keep up with changes? The world of advertising is always shifting and evolving, and you’ll want someone who devotes time and energy to keeping up with new trends and technologies. Ask if there are any new trends or platforms they think might be useful to your organization’s goals.

Step 3: Communicate Effectively

A doctor can’t help you if you tell him, “I don’t know, I just kind of hurt all over.” You need to be as specific as you can be so he can prescribe the right tests and medication to correct your health issue.

Once you select your media buyer, it’s up to you to communicate with them in a way that they can ensure the health of your campaigns. Don’t be vague. Communicate as clearly as you can and use numbers if possible. Don’t say, “It doesn’t seem to be working.” Instead tell them, “We’ve only seen a 3% increase in foot traffic in the last week, “or, “Our online sales have remained consistent.”

A good media buyer will watch vigilantly over your campaigns. They will want to test and refine your campaigns to get the biggest ROI. But they need your help in diagnosing any issues or areas for potential improvement.

If you follow these three simple but necessary steps, you’ll be able to choose the right media buyer for you and nurture a lasting and mutually-beneficial relationship with them.

Do you need help with your campaigns? Want to work with a media buyer with experience helping local businesses get the right message in front of the right people? Get in touch with us.

Topics: integrated marketing plan, media buyer, media planning, media planning agency, partnership

How to Mix Media Like a Pro

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, May 15, 2017 @ 01:59 PM

Inlast week’s blogpost I talked about what media mixing is and why you should be doing it. This week, let’s dive into how to go about it.

Though I’ll break it down more as we go, the KEY to determining the right mix of media is to think about who it is you’re trying to reach and uncover how they like to get their information. There is NO sense spending money on the wrong channels and sending your message/offer where no one will pay attention to them.

It’s a Customer-Centric Strategy

When you start to think about whether you should use OOH, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, email, social media, or mobile, make sure you know which channels will be the best at getting your target audience’s attention.

Stop Asking the Wrong Questions

So often our clients will ask questions like, “Should we advertise on Facebook?” or “How much ad spend should we put toward inserts?” These are the wrong questions to ask. The most important questions to ask yourself before developing a mixed media campaign are:

  • Who is my target audience?Attractive woman thinking on grey background.jpeg
  • Where do they go to get information?
  • Where are they in your sales funnel?
  • What time of day are they most available to hear your message and take action?

Discovering these answers will make the difference between a campaign flop and a campaign homerun. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t want to use a channel because it’s the new media darling; you should use a channel because it will reach the right people at the right time with the right message.

Understand Human Behavior in General

While it is evident that consumer behavior can and does change over time, it doesn’t necessarily change that fast or that much.

Case in point: David Ogilvy made a name for himself as a master of print advertising during the heyday of radio and TV. While most people were touting the benefits of these newer, shiner channels, Ogilvy successfully launched print campaigns for brands like Dove, Rolls-Royce, and Shell, and he became a legend in the process.

The same trends are happening today. While social media and mobile are getting more and more attention, consumers have adopted these new trends slowly. Plenty of consumers still read print publications and use desktops.

The moral of the story is, always consider new trends that come along, but don’t neglect those prospects who are slower to adopt them. Reach out to them the “old fashioned” way and be handsomely rewarded.

Mind Your Business

When it comes to taking the advice of advertising experts – us included – you should take lessons with a grain of salt. Just because Moz publishes a case study about their latest success with search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, doesn’t mean your company will be successful with SEO. Why? Because you most likely have a different target audience and different messaging.

By all means, take a look around to see what’s working for others – particularly your own competition – and listen to what the experts have to say, this will definitely expose you to possible channels and strategies.

But ALWAYS understand that your business is unique and what really matters is engaging your customers and prospects in a way that is effective.


Focus groups and marketing gurus are helpful, in theory, but the only way to tell what media will work for your business is to test the waters. It’s always a good idea to use a 10% - 20% of your marketing budget to run exploratory campaigns to determine if a channel you suspect will be effective, will be. Never roll out a new mixed media campaign without testing small first. This is the only way to safely determine if a new media will capture your audience’s attention.

Understand the Rules

Once you’ve determined your target audience and which channels they prefer to receive information, you’ve got to clearly understand the rules of those selected channels. For instance, you don’t run a Facebook ad campaign in the same way you run a direct mail campaign, and vice versa.

Before you launch, study your channels and know how best to leverage each platform. Your ultimate goal is to adapt your messaging to what your audience expects on each different channel.

Embrace a Long Game Approach

You should think of each separate channel as your short game and your overall integrated multi-channel campaigns as your long game. Though delivering messaging across a range of channels is more effective, it takes time to select the right channels and strategies, test them, tweak them and roll them out. Remember - have patience. You won’t see results overnight.

If you follow these rules, you will see success. Just make sure your overall message and brand image is recognizable over all channels so your audience can recognize you.

Now get mixing.

Topics: advertising, integrated marketing, target audience, print ads, Media Mix, targeting

Media Mixing: It’s Easier Than You Think

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Fri, May 12, 2017 @ 09:31 AM

Digital technology and the Internet have changed how consumers get information. While in the past, most relied on one or two main channels for information gathering; today’s consumers rely on far more.

If you want to ensure you reach your target audience at the right time with the right messaging, you’ve got to employ the right media mix to do it. Despite what many marketers think, media mixing doesn’t have to be difficult.

What is It?

When I talk about media mixing, what do I mean exactly? In visual art, sometimes an artist will use mixed media such as paint, ink, and collage to get their vision and point across. Advertising, being a little bit science and a little bit art, can also mix medias (print, radio, social media, websites, email, direct mail, OOH) to get a brand message across. Combining these channels allows advertisers to communicate effectively to different prospects at different stages of the buying funnel.

Why Do It?human hand making a business word puzzle.jpeg

The question, “Why bother with media mixing?” can be simply answered: To get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time. A mix that might work for one audience might not for another.

For instance: Let’s say you want to reach a national audience. You might combine national newspapers with radio and television spots. This same mix will not necessarily work if you wanted to reach a specific niche, such as technical directors. In this instance, you may want to mix business magazines with content publishing on LinkedIn and direct mail.

As mentioned earlier, media mixing not only gets your offer in front of the right audience, but at the right time, ie at various stages of the buying cycle. Gaining access to your audience is only half the battle; you’ve still got to time your messaging just right.

At the beginning of any buying cycle, a prospect is simply looking for information about a product or service. They may use social media, consumer review websites, or even visit trade shows. It’s important you have information available in these places they choose to visit. You’re not trying to sell in this beginning buying stage, merely raise awareness about your brand.

In the next stage of the buying process, prospects may notice you and show an interest in what you have to offer. Once they’ve reach this stage, you can use a completely different mix of media to nurture them and move them farther down the sales funnel, ever close to making that final buying decision. Media at this stage might include email offers, videos, and print ads with included URLs or QR codes.

Make a Salad – Not a TV Dinner

The real effectiveness of media mixing lies in the ‘mixing’ or integration of channels. An integrated campaign ensures all of your components are working together to communicate a consistent message at every step of the buying journey. That means at any touch point consumers can instantly recognize your brand (logo, colors, language), your creative themes and your marketing messages.

No matter if a prospect sees an ad in the local paper, received a direct mail piece, sees a billboard, hears a radio spot, reads a Tweet, or views a Youtube video, they will recognize all of the communication is coming from the same source. And each channel supports and reinforces all the others, creating a robust and dynamic campaign that is sure to engage and convince your audience.

If up until this point you have stuck with one or two channels to reach your audience, it’s time to ‘mix’ things up (c’mon, I had to). In next week’s blog post, I will share a simple process for creating mixed media campaigns.

Topics: integrated marketing plan, integrate print and digital, integrated advertising campaign, Media Mix

3 Ways to Create Revenue-Generating Direct Mail Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 11:58 AM

I found my old Trapper Keeper over the weekend. (If you’re under 35, Google it). I thought my Trapper Keeper was the coolest thing ever back in the day (still kinda do) and couldn’t wait to show it to my daughter, who I thought might want to use it for school.

As I opened and closed and opened and closed the Velcro flap, hearing that familiar thwip, thwip, thwip, thwip, I imagined my daughter walking down the hallway of her school, suddenly the coolest kid in her class because she had a genu-ine Trapper Keeper in almost-pristine condition. It would be a beautiful bond we share, like when and if she wants to wear my wedding dress down the aisle.

What is it?”

After explaining the wondrous thing I was offering her, all she could manage to say was, “No, thanks,” before giving me a strange look and walking to her bedroom. Teenagers.

Why do I mention my Trapper Keeper? Because my daughter, and most people her age, are obsessed with all-things digital. If I wanted to give her my Smartphone or iPad she would have been more than happy to take them.

But just because you don’t have to charge a Trapper Keeper or can’t text on it doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Far from it. Kids still take notes and get handout sheets. They still need to keep their paper-stuff organized.

Typically the idea of launching a direct mail campaign gets the same sneer and quizzical look my daughter gave me. And why? Because it’s a bit old-fashioned? Because the tactic has been around awhile? Many marketers assume direct mail no longer works, and/or they believe postage rates are outrageous.

The truth is direct mail very much works and it’s very affordable.

The StatsDirect Mail Advertising - Three Arrows Hit in Red Target on a Hanging Sack on Natural Bokeh Background..jpeg


According to a recent USPS Household Diary Study, 42% of recipients scan or read direct mail pieces. This means that close to half of your target audience is going to actually stop what they’re doing to read your message. Even more exciting: if you’ve designed your direct mail campaign optimally (I’ll get to that), you might actually achieve a one to two percent (heck – even a 10%) response rate. Yes, that is totally achievable with direct mail.

Now let’s compare that to an average digital banner ad. You’re lucky if you get a 0.14% clickthrough rate. Even then, once someone lands on your landing page, you’re lucky if you convert 2%.

Now let’s discuss cost.

Many will say to their media buyers who are crazy enough to suggest launching a direct mail campaign, “But a digital banner will be seen by millions of eyes and it costs less than a direct mail campaign.

Let’s do a little math to dispel this misconception:

If you execute a direct mail campaign to 10,000 targets, and achieved only a 1% response rate, you would have gained 100 new customers. Not too shabby. Remember, with direct mail you can rent or create a highly-targeted list of prospects inexpensively so you don’t waste precious circulation. With direct mail, you ONLY send your offer to households that meet your criteria.

In order to gain those same 100 customers with your digital banner ad, it would have to reach 3,035,700 pairs of eyes. Not only is that a whole lot of people, but you can bet a good majority of them are non-targets, meaning they are not and never will be interested in what you have to offer. Wasted money.

So, which scenario is a better way to spend your ad dollars?

3 Ways to Create Revenue-Generating Direct Mail Campaigns

Now that you understand direct mail is not only still an incredibly effective and affordable way to get your offer in front of the right people, let’s look at three ways you get can the most bang for your buck:

Be Creative

Even if you send a plain-old enveloped mailer you’ll likely get a good response. That’s because most people get very little mail these days. But imagine the response rate you could get if your mailer was creative and attention-grabbing?

Consider using heavier stocks and coatings that invite people to notice your mailer. Maybe use a #10 envelope instead of a standard. Or forget an envelope altogether and try something that folds in a unique way. If you make it fun for people to open your mailer, chances are they will. Make it like a game or a gift and watch your response rate soar.

Leverage Technology

By all means take advantage of technology that will help you personalize your mailers and increase engagement and response. High-resolution inkjet, four-color inkjet and digital 1-to-1 print offer hyper-personalized mailers. Perhaps more importantly, this technology allows marketers to create individual versions of offers instead of mailing general messages to large groups.

Ask About Postage Discounts

Speak to your media buyer about ways you can save money. He or she might suggest processing your piece in five-digit delivery sequences or a carrier route. They might also discuss drop shipping, commingling and co-palletization with you, all great ways to help you save, and all can be combined to come up with a personal delivery system that fits your budget and gets your offer in front of the right people at the right time.

Ignore what you’ve heard about direct mail campaigns. While everyone is fighting online to get consumer attention, you can quietly and cheaply get their attention offline.


Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

Topics: advertising, benefits of print, direct marketing, direct mail

Avoid These 6 FSI Mistakes and Earn Big This Memorial Day

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

When it comes to insider marketing, there is no more effective option than insert media. Think about it: getting your offer inside of an already-trusted and beloved newspaper means customers will automatically see your company and offer in the best possible light.

With Memorial Day weekend around the corner, it’s a good idea to step up your FSI game. With this in mind, here are 6 of the most common mistakes advertisers make with their insert campaigns. Avoid these at all costs to earn big this summer.

  1. Not Testing

Many marketers think that testing is not important, or they assume their budget isn’t big enough. But the truth is, you don’t need to distribute millions of pieces to determine if the channel will work for your company.

Test small.

You can minimize your risk by distributing enough to get an accurate gauge. For example, you can test four different programs with 25,000 in each. This is typically a better and more telling way to go than testing a single program with 100,000.

To determine which programs to test, keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Demographics of the program
  • The total universe of the program – if the test is successful, you want to know you can roll out effectively.

Be sure to vary your tests in terms of audience and category. It’s never a good idea to test a single category or a single audience. The more you vary your testing, the better your odds of finding success.

And one final note regarding testing (can you tell testing is important) – one successful test does not a successful campaign make. Don’t do a full roll out just because one test proved successful. Take a bit of time to make sure your positive results are in fact positive before committing to a big roll out.

If you start testing now, you should be able to confidently roll out your FSI campaign for Memorial Day Weekend, one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

  1. Not Coding

Do you always code your inserts? If not, how do you gauge if the channel and/or campaign was successful? Each program should have its own unique code, as should each month within a particular program. Coding helps you keep track of your success so you can make every advertising dollar count.

  1. Not Standing Out from the Crowd

You can’t rest on the newspaper’s laurels, you’ve got to stand out on your own. It’s easy for your FSI to get lost in the package, so use the entire space to your advantage. The average maximum dimensions for an insert program are 5-1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Why risk getting lost in the package with a 3 ½” x 5” insert. As they say: Go big or go home.

  1. Not Communicating with Your Media Buyer

You’ve got to share detailed information with your media buyer about the efficacy of your campaigns. And the more details you offer, the better able they will be to return qualified program recommendations. A program may not have worked at $45/M but it may at $30/M. Your buyer won’t be able to adjust on your behalf if all you say is, “It didn’t work.” Be specific and share as much as you can.

  1. Not Optimizing for Mobile

If you are going to include a mobile link in your insert’s offer then you’ll need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsing. This should be a no-brainer at this point but we still see so many companies who have neglected to optimize for mobile.

  1. Not Considering Lead Times

Most insert media campaigns need to be created and handed over weeks in advance of distribution. Understand that collation, production and delivery all take time, so if you want to get your inserts in the Memorial Day weekend paper, better get started… NOW!

There is no denying FSIs are a great way to get your offer in front of the right crowd and boost your revenue. Just be sure to avoid these 6 mistakes so you can taste success this summer season.

Topics: print advertising, frequency of newspapers ads, free standing inserts, preprint

3 Tips on Getting Customer Reviews

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

I almost don’t remember a time before Yelp. I don’t want to remember a time before Yelp. Yelp, and other consumer review sites, are what keep me from getting a hair-don’t. Review sites are what ensure I never pay $400 for a spark plug. And review sites are what save me time and again from the horror that is soggy Crab Rangoon.

I am certainly not the only one who owes their life, or at least their hard-earned dollars, to review sites. Most people, when they hear of a new (or perhaps merely ‘new to them’) local business, immediately begin an online search to see what kind of ratings these establishments have gotten.

If you are a local mom and pop shop or some kind of brick and mortar establishment, consumers are going to look for your star rating and review panel before handing over their hard-earned cash. Should your reviews be ho-hum, or worse, non-existent, the chances that those consumers will give your business a shot decrease significantly.

According to a Local Consumer Review Survey published in 2016 by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews for local businesses, a 20% increase from 2010.

Google, Bing and other platforms have made consumer reviews readily accessible to the masses. At this point in time, the link between local business searches and visibility of reviews is more than evident.

Here are 3 tips on getting more consumer reviews:

  1. You Need at Least 3 Stars

When consumers search for your business, what do they see? They see your company name, maybe some contact information and those stars. They instantly judge you and decide whether or not they will patronize your establishment by how many stars you have. You know this because you do it yourself. We all do it.

Who has time to research a company completely? Answer: no one. We all just want to be able to quickly decide on whether to try the Thai restaurant on Market Street or the one on Elm Road.

According to BrightLocal’s survey, 87% of consumers said they would use a local business if it maintained a 3-5-star rating. We can tell from this consumers do not expect you to be perfect, they also realize not everyone’s opinion may be reliable. They simply want to see some overall good ratings and consistency.

So, if you are below 3 stars work hard at getting that score up. You will no doubt likely see a spike in business when you do.

  1. Those 5 Reviews from 3 Years Ago Won’t Cut It

If you’re going to place a bet on who will win the Super Bowl, will you choose your team based on how they performed nine years ago, or how they performed this current season?

Prospective customers want to see relevant reviews, and that means recent reviews. Back to our survey, it showed that 73% of consumers won’t even pay attention to reviews older than three months. And most respondents said they only read reviews posted in the last month.

Be sure to always have a steady flow of reviews coming in. Here are some ways to get reviews:

  • If you have local clients that you invoice, consider adding something to the invoice that says, “Love your experience? Then please review us on Google+.”
  • Use a platform like com. GetFiveStars sends an email to your client list or subscriber list asking them to leave a review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp.
  • You can always just come out and ask your customers if they wouldn’t mind leaving a positive review. If you provide an excellent product or service and you ask for a positive review, most customers will oblige. In fact the survey found that 7 out of 10 consumers who are asked will leave feedback.

Business man pointing to transparent board with text Client Testimonials.jpeg

  1. Maintain an Updated Website

Let’s say you’ve gone to all the trouble of making sure you have at least 3 stars and a steady stream of fresh reviews. You’re not out of the woods yet. What is the next thing a consumer will do once they’ve perused your reviews?

They’ll click over to your website of course. Or at least, they’ll want to.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a local pizza joint, accountant, mattress store, or baby sitter, you definitely need to have a professional looking website that has some helpful content. The design should be clean and easy to navigate. Your reviews may be great but if your website leaves something to be desired, your visitors will leave and you won’t get their business.


Your mission is to now go forth and solicit as many positive reviews and stars as you can. Stay committed and don’t be shy about asking for positive reviews. Your bottom line will thank you.

Topics: print advertising, reviews, ratings

Five Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Billboard Ads

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

As new channels become available to marketers and integrative campaigns become even more complex (and CMOs become even more accountable for delivering big results), it becomes increasingly important to make every advertising dollar count.

Billboard advertising remains an incredibly effective way of reaching an audience and getting a nice return on your investment. That is, if you don’t screw it up.

Here are 5 things you’re doing wrong with your billboard ads:

  1. You’re Writing the Great American Novel

Your billboard should not read like a novel. It should be short and sweet, containing no more than six words. Remember, people will see your billboard when they’re driving, so they literally don’t have time to read much more than six words. When you only have a few seconds to get your message across, you’ve got to make sure that every word counts.

  1. You’re Using Your Billboard as a Direct Response Ad

We speak often on this blog about the impact direct response ads can have on your audience (and your bottom line), but billboards shouldn’t be used for that. Billboard ads are about creating interest and brand-building, but they should never be expected to do the heavy lifting. Save that for your print and TV ads. With this in mind, don’t cover your billboards with 1-800 numbers and website addresses. The only exception to this rule is if your website address or phone number is your main message/headline.

  1. You’re Being Cute and Clever

An uninspired billboard won’t get attention. A smart billboard, on the other hand, will grab attention and make a lasting impression. But a billboard that’s trying too hard to be clever or cute will get nothing but eye rolls or completely ignored.

Advertising is not about being clever or smarter than your audience, it’s about simple, clear and direct messaging.

  1. You Believe Less is More

Billboards are kind of like potato chips: eating one is okay, but eating more is better. Billboards are a mass market medium that require support.

Before making your buy, be sure to inquire about the billboard’s Gross Ratings Point (GRP). This number is based on traffic, visibility, location, size and so on. So if your billboard’s score is 50%, that means that roughly 50% of the populations in your local area would see your billboard each day. Having one billboard is okay, but having more billboards around town will get you as close to a 100% showing as possible.

  1. You Didn’t Test Your Ad First

All billboard ad campaigns look brilliant on a 27” monitor, but are you sure that information will translate and be seen and understood once it’s up on that board? It’s important to put each and every one of your ads up to the “Arm’s Length Test.” Here’s how you do it:

Print your ad to the size of a business card. Now hold it out at arm’s length. Does it hold up? Does it still have the same impact it did when it was on your big ol’ monitor? If yes, great. If no, time to refine your message until it can pass this test with flying colors. Remember, your message has got to pop, and you only have about 5 seconds to make an impression on motorists and pedestrians.

If you stop (or never start) making these 5 common billboard mistakes, you should begin to see amgreater impact on your audience and a better ROI.

Topics: advertising, advertising strategy, billboard