What's on Tap...
A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

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

6 Old School Advertising Techniques Today’s Entrepreneurs Should be Leveraging

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Mar 08, 2017 @ 01:06 PM

When it comes to advertising techniques, digital technology has continued to evolve and offer (read: inundate us with) a plethora of effective tools. But, more often than not, these new, shiny techniques draw focus and attention away from traditional techniques that have been working for more than 100 years.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to get ahead of the competition, don’t forget to use some (or all) of the following old school advertising techniques.

  1. Phone Calls

Startups must spend a good chunk of time and money on acquiring new business. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t spend any time or money on keeping the business they already have. Retaining current customers builds your bottom line and these loyal fans act as brand ambassadors – stirring up new business on your behalf by word-of-mouth and social media testimonials.

Picking up the phone and reaching out to customers is a highly-effective way of keeping your happy customers happy and fixing whatever it is that makes some customers not-so-happy. Making a dozen or so calls each month is a great way to retain business.

  1. Direct Mail

No one really gets or reads snail mail anymore. People choose to go paperless and have their utility bills and mortgages automatically paid each month. And why write a letter when you can stay in touch with friends and family via email or Facebook updates?

But the thing is, we all really love getting mail. There’s just something about opening that mailbox, reaching in, and pulling out something that piques our interest. Direct mail is finally starting to have its heyday because it finally has a chance to stand out and make a statement.

Consider sending out announcements about upcoming sales, or, better yet, coupons. Also, adding a personal note thanking customers for their business is always a nice touch.

  1. Print Ads

Whoever said print was dead was either lying or uninformed. Print is very much alive and well and should absolutely be a part of your integrated campaigns. Print can be incredibly effective at reaching baby boomers and higher-income consumers. And, if your product or service speaks directly to a particular audience, you will most likely find a magazine who caters to your prospects.

Two smiling women lying on the floor are both reading a magazine.jpeg

  1. Email Marketing

Email marketing has taken a backseat since social media marketing became all the rage. While organizing subscriber lists and creating content that is highly-relevant to each segment takes time, this channel can be a large source of your business.


  1. Networking

Good Ol’-fashioned networking is the oldest form of marketing but still one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. Attending conferences will put you in touch with influencers, potential partners and clients, and existing clients as well. If you are not the outgoing type, find someone within your organization who is naturally social and charismatic who can represent you at these important meet-and-greets.

  1. Speaking Engagements

More than ever, what consumers are looking for is thought leadership. And, while there are numerous online channels for growing your reputation as an industry expert, there’s nothing quite like standing in front of an audience and sharing your knowledge in person. This not only shows you off as an expert on your subject but also helps to instantly form trust between prospects and your organization.

Sometimes being the hip, new, happening kid on the block means going against the herd mentality and kicking it old school. As an entrepreneur, if you incorporate some or all of these timeless advertising techniques into your strategy, you’ll have a much better chance of pulling ahead of the competition and building a loyal following.

Topics: advertising, networking, printadvertising, emailmarketing

5 Common Branding Mistakes That Will Kill Your Small Business

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 @ 11:06 AM

What is branding exactly? It’s the development of a public persona, one that causes an instant emotional connection within consumers. When you think of great branding, what comes to mind? Nike’s swoosh? Coca Cola’s red can and white lettering? Or maybe McDonald’s golden arches?

As a small business owner, you’ve probably dreamed of reaching such branding success. You’ve also most likely become instantly overwhelmed at the mere idea of taking on what can be an expensive and demanding initiative.

The good news is, effective branding is much easier and more cost-effective than you might think, provided you avoid the following 5 common mistakes.

  1. Being Shortsighted

You most likely know that having a strong brand is highly advantageous from a customer-relationship perspective. After all, the stronger your brand the more top of mind you become. For instance, when you think of buying shoes online, you immediately think of Zappos.


Did you know that branding is also valuable for SEO marketing? It’s no secret that Google prioritizes branded listings in its organic search results. They do this because branded websites are more likely to get the clicks. More clicks mean happier search engine users. Hence, don’t be shortsighted. Undertaking a branding initiative could lead to both awareness benefits and a boost in website traffic.

  1. Failing to Implement Branding Guidelines

Your branding efforts will be sabotaged by a lack of cohesiveness. This cohesiveness can only be reached by implementing branding guidelines. Doing so will allow your brand to be instantly recognized no matter which marketing channel you use. People recognize Coca Cola in their TV ads as well as their print ads and social media campaigns.16703717985_21f9c0cc6f_b.jpg

What should your guidelines include?

  • Logo
  • Brand colors
  • Taglines
  • Fonts and typography
  • The “voice” used in your branded materials
  • Imagery
  • Mascots or spokespeople

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of guidelines, these points are essential to getting you started.

  1. Not Keeping it Simple

Small businesses can learn a lot from Coca Cola when it comes to keeping their brand image simple. Take a look at how their logo has changed – or not changed – over the years. While the fonts have varied a bit since the soft drink giant launched in 1887, the logo in general has had the same look and feel over the last 127 years. Also worth mentioning is that look happens to be very clean and simple.

It may be tempting to “go all out” and add more variables when initiating your branding process. But, a logo with five colors and four different graphic elements will confuse your audience and overcomplicate things. Take a note from Coca Cola and keep things simple.

  1. Being Vague

I already mentioned the importance of keeping your brand image and logo clean and simple. But don’t confuse this will dull and vague. Your brand’s elements must reveal something about your company and its value proposition. Catchphrases like “Best-selling” “award-winning” or “new and improved” have been so overused, they no longer hold any meaning with consumers.

Focus on creating clear language, logos and imagery that highlight your company’s value proposition.

  1. Not Monitoring Your Brand’s Usage

Developing and launching your small business’s brand is only half of the branding equation. The other half is making sure you’re monitoring how others are using your brand image on your behalf. If you let this task slide, you risk publishing partners using your logo but with the wrong colors, or a review website using the wrong URL link. Or, worse, a competitor using a tagline that sounds strikingly similar.

While branding takes thought and comprehensive planning, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. As long as you avoid these 5 common mistakes, you should be able to develop a brand that is instantly recognizable and connects with your target audience.

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Topics: advertising, marketing, small business, branding

How Local Advertisers Might Cash in on the Pokémon Go Craze

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

You would have to have been living under a proverbial rock to have not heard about the mass hysteria revolving around Pokémon Go, the game made famous 20 years ago by Ninetendo. Within two days of its launch, the app had completely surpassed the dating app Tinder and was generating more downloads than any other iPhone app in the U.S. market. Pokémon Go has also acquired more US users than even the social media giant Twitter.

For all of these boasting rights, the game is still in its infancy, and industry experts are predicting that once Pokémon Go begins a monetization strategy, it will be a game-changer (yes, pun intended). This could have big ramifications (and good ones) in the world of advertising for brands of all sizes.

Here are some reasons why local advertisers might one day soon be able to cash in on the Pokémon Go craze.

It Already Generates RevenueIt Already Generates Revenue

Players create revenue through in-app purchases via PokéCoins. These can then be used to buy tools that will improve their overall performance and hence gaming experience. According to App Annie, a business intelligence firm that watches apps and digital goods, Pokémon Go is on its way to earning potentially more than $1 billion annually from these in-app purchases.

As impressive as that figure is, there is still huge earning potential should Pokémon Go decide to open its platform to advertisers. These advertising partnerships would have to be strategic and creative, but the financial gains would be worth the effort.

For instance, they could charge a company a fee to become a branded PokéStop or Gym, where much of the game’s action takes place. John Hanke, the chief executive of Niantic, the company behind the app, has already confirmed that sponsored locations will soon be seen on Pokémon Go. Niantic is currently working on a branded relationship with McDonald’s. It’s only a matter of time before smaller brands can capitalize.

For now, local businesses are leveraging the game’s popularity by hosting Pokémon Go parties or offering special deals for players in order to get bodies in the door.

Huge ReachHuge Reach

Pokémon Go has captured a lot, and I mean a lot of peoples’ attention. There are the diehard fans who were playing the game, watching the cartoon and collecting the playing cards back in the 90s. This is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. But, because of its unique use of augmented reality, the game is also attracting thousands of users who had never played the game before.

Beyond the sheer number of people playing the game, the really exciting news is just how often they’re playing it. Data indicates that more than 60% of the users who have downloaded the app are playing it daily. And, by midsummer of this year, users were playing an average of 43 minutes a day. TechCrunch has also revealed that users are spending more time playing Pokémon Go than they spend on Facebook.

It’s exciting to think of the reach and exposure the game might give local advertisers one day in the very near future.

Location, Location, Location

Local marketers have had the concept of location-based marketing shoved down their throat over the past five years or so. Those that paid attention are now reaping the financial rewards.

Well, you could say Pokémon Go knows a thing or two about leveraging location and combining it with gaming and branding. Once brick-and-mortar establishments begin to get on board, the results could be huge.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar location wondering how you can turbocharge your local marketing efforts, start paying attention to Pokémon Go and watch how it evolves. Play the game, get to know the user base to figure out ways you can someday capitalize on its enormous popularity. You’ll then be ready to not only take full advantage of the game once it starts monetizing, you’ll also be for the new marriage of location marketing and augmented reality, projected to be a $120 billion market by 2020.

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What Marketers Can Learn from the 2016 Presidential Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

When you think about it, your marketing campaign has an awful lot in common with a political campaign. For starters, politicians, like brands, try to influence key demographics by offering solutions to problems. They also strive to make sure their message is always consistent and memorable.

If you’re a company looking to increase your reach and sales, you need to view your marketing plan the same way a strategist approaches the campaign trail. Here are some of the things marketers can learn from the 2016 presidential campaigns.

Consumers Aren't IMpressed by the Same-Old Same-OldConsumers Aren’t Impressed by the Same-Old Same-Old

One of the most blatant lessons to come out of the 2016 campaigns is that the American people are tired of establishment politics. Just look at the popularity of a non-establishment candidate like Trump. He is nothing like we’ve seen before in an election year. Brash, unapologetic and unpredictable, he says what others don’t and uses Twitter like a Champion.

Even someone like Bernie Sanders, though a professional politician, has been embraced mostly because of his praise for socialism and promise of radical changes needed for the current economic structure. He doesn’t feel establishment (or at least he didn’t before Clinton won the Democratic slot).

The popularity of these two different politicians speaks to the desire of the people for something new and fresh.

Consumers, who are bombarded each day with hundreds of the same-old, same-old marketing spiel, are also hungry for a brand message that can stand out in a sea of white noise. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Bigger Budgets Don’t Automatically Mean Success

Up until this present election, the campaigns that spent the most money on pushing their ads typically did the best at the polls. But not this year. According to data from Fox, Until very recently Trump was only spending about $40 per vote, whereas someone like Jeb Bush, who dropped out rather early in the race and was trailing Trump the entire time, spent nearly $1,200 for each vote. And Sanders was running a very successful campaign on a tiny budget.

What can you glean from this? Focus on HOW you spend your money, NOT how much.

Keep Your Message Simple

Politicians that do well tend to repeat one, clear, simple message over and over again. When Barack Obama ran in 2008, he was the President that promoted hope and change and “Yes we can.” This appealed to many idealistic young adults who were frustrated by an antiquated system.

Donald Trump supporters chant “Make America Great Again” as they wish for a bygone era; a time when this country was perhaps safer and more economically viable.

In your own campaigns, take a message that me be a bit complex and nuanced and try and convey it in one simple, memorable tagline.

Your Product Must Deliver What You PromiseYour product must deliver what you promise

Just about every politician who has ever run for POTUS has run a campaign full of BIG promises. They promise to balance the budget, promise to create more jobs, promise to bring our troops home. More often than not, as soon as they’re in the White House, they deliver very little on the promises that got them into office.

If your campaigns promise solutions, you had better be sure your product or service can make good on those promises and deliver the solutions. Here’s why:

So many businesses focus on acquiring more and more new customers, but repeat business is critical for success. This is because when customers are happy and come back for more, there are no acquisition costs involved.


While political candidates aren’t exactly the same as brands, the tactics they use to increase their visibility and inspire loyalty among voters are effective. Today’s marketers would do well to explore these same tactics in their own campaigns.

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

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How to Leverage This Summer’s Olympic Games to Increase Your Bottom Line

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Every four years the entire world gets caught up in the frenzy and excitement of the Olympic Games. This Summer, Brazil’s second most populous city, Rio de Janeiro, will host over 10,000 athletes as well as an expected 500,000 visitors, all ready to cheer on their countrymen and women.

While brand giants like McDonald’s and Nike will have (and profit from) a heavy advertising presence at the actual games, small businesses can tailor marketing campaigns toward the event and reap big rewards.

Here are some ways you can get creative and leverage this summer’s Olympic games and increase your bottom line:

Incentivize Patriotism

More than any other time, except for maybe the Fourth of July, Americans feel a sense of pride and patriotism during the Olympic games. Incentivize this patriotism by encouraging patrons and customers to celebrate in their own way.

For example, you could encourage people to wear red, white and blue and offer discounts to those who show their pride.

Be sure to keep an eye on the news so you can take advantage of a moving Olympic story. Use these stories to send out a quick email campaign or create a print ad that will stir people’s emotions and get them to buy.

Get SocialGet Social

You can pretty much count on the Rio games to be a consistently trending topic on most social media platforms. Be sure to follow official Twitter handles like @Rio2016_en for updates and use the right hashtags like #Rio2016.

Get in on the relevant conversations that will be happening and engage your customers. Consider asking patrons to share patriotic images via their social pages to enter into a contest or giveaway that you sponsor.

Find Real Connections

If at all possible, find some real connections between your business and the summer games. Is there a local athlete competing in the games that eats at your restaurant or uses your products? Promote these connections.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a real connection, have some fun by linking to hot events or athletes. For instance, you could offer a 10% discount if Michael Phelps makes it to the next round or wins a gold.

Host a Watch Party

Want to get more people into your place of business? Host a watch party. There will be dozens of games each day, and like any sporting event, people like to watch the action with others.

Create a fun atmosphere and perhaps partner with another local business to cross-promote.

Get your SEO rightGet Your SEO Right

People are going to be searching heavily for news about the summer Olympic games. This means you’ve got to work on your own SEO game and get it right. Make sure your search engine marketing campaigns and your website’s keywords have been tweaked to reflect whatever is currently trending to capture consumer interest.

Get Ready for Extra Digital Traffic

If you’re going to do the work to get extra traffic to your digital assets, you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth to handle it. Contact your hosting company to prepare for the additional traffic your promotional campaigns might generate.

Be Careful of Licensed Trademarks

While it may be tempting, do NOT use any licensed trademarks or imagery or even specific language of the official Olympic games in your promotions. Olympic organizers are understandably very protective of their brand and you risk possible legal action.

Just because you’re a small, local company doesn’t mean you can’t cash in on the excitement of the upcoming summer games. By getting a little creative you can leverage this excitement and increase your bottom line.

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

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Got Boring Marketing Collateral? Here are 5 Ways to Make it Stand Out

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, May 24, 2016 @ 12:38 PM

It wasn’t that long ago that marketing collateral consisted mainly of facts and figures with a few images and pie charts thrown in for “appeal.” These were of course printed on plain old black and white paper in mass quantities.

Thanks to modern technology, today’s businesses can wow prospects by featuring their products and services in full-color and on high quality paper. Yet, despite these printing advances, many companies still consider their marketing collateral as supplemental and don’t bother to make it stand out. This is a disservice.

Today’s consumers are busy and not at all interested in perusing collateral that offers about as much visual appeal as a scholastic aptitude test. They want to be visually engaged and offered information in bite-size bits.

With this in mind, here are 5 ways you can make your marketing collateral stand out and grab buyers’ attention.

Make It Align with Your Brand Image

Make it align with your brand image.It’s not enough to slap your logo on your collateral and call it a day. You need to make sure it represents your brand both in how it looks and the impression it gives. For starters, collateral should use your brand’s colors and font styles so that consumers have a universal experience across your website, social media pages, magazine ads, and collateral. In other words, they should recognize your brand immediately.

Also, make sure your brand’s personality is the same across all channels. Collateral copy doesn’t have to be dry and boring, so make sure to infuse it with your personality and humanity.

Make it Relevant

Whether it’s marketing collateral, an explainer video, or an email campaign, unless your content is 100% relevant to your audience, they will ignore your message. Be sure you know exactly who your target demographic is and use your collateral to speak to their particular needs.

Also important to know is exactly how you will be using your collateral. Will you be handing out a tri-fold at an event, offering a sell sheet at a client meeting, or sending a brochure through the post? Do you want prospects to discover your brand, visit your website, engage with you on social media, or call your sales representatives? Whatever the goal, you need to make sure your collateral reflects it.

And finally, be sure to include your web address, email, phone number, and social icons so customers can easily contact you.

Use Images

Think of how you yourself take in information. If, in an advertisement, you are offered an image as well as text, your eyes naturally scan the image first and then move on to the words. All human beings do this. We have been programmed in a way to seek out images first and text second. Colorful images will definitely help your collateral stand out.

Depending on what type of collateral you are creating, and the goal you want it to achieve, consider using a variety of images such as photographs of your products, illustrations, stock photos and infographics.

forget basicsForget Basic

Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways for your collateral to stand out is to forget using a basic shape. Who says a brochure HAS to be a boring ol’ rectangle? Consider using die-cutting, a unique design element that can add a creative shape to your collateral. And, contrary to what you may think, this element won’t break your bank. But it will give your printed material major impact. So, next time you’re printing some brochures or business cards, consider making them the shape of your logo or something else that connects with your brand.

Choose the Right Paper

If you watch any cooking shows on the Food Network, you’ve no doubt noticed professional chefs spend almost as much time deciding on what plates they will use to present their dishes as they do on the ingredients and preparation. You’ve got to do the same thing with your collateral. While you may have always played it safe in the past and used cardstock, for instance, this will hardly get anyone’s attention. (What gets your attention more… an appetizer served on a little plate, or one served on a spoon?)

To make your printed collateral special consider using textured or glossy paper. Get creative and maybe use fabric or a dark paper with light text. Anything not-typical, that is still easy to read and engage with, will get you the attention you want.

Collateral does NOT have to be boring. It can actually be something that sets your brand apart and continuously bring in leads and sales.

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7 Tips for Effective Flyer Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, May 17, 2016 @ 12:27 PM

Advertising with flyers is a low-cost marketing option for small, local business. Flyers are a great way to introduce your new business to a specific region or demographic, or promote a new product or service to your local community. For instance, a local deli may target the office worker market through flyer distribution to direct businesses. A new cleaning service may insert flyers into the local newspaper to reach a certain geographic area.

If you’re considering adding flyer advertising to your marketing mix, follow these 7 tip to get the most bang for your buck.

Use a Bold Headline

Flyers aren’t just longer versions of business cards, so don’t use your company name as the headline. Use an attention-grabbing headline that highlights the benefits you’re offering.

Customers are only interested in how you can help them solve a problem. What’s a more effective headline: “Sam’s Lawn Care” or “Let Us Mow Your Lawn So You Can Enjoy Your Summer!”

Be HumanBe Human

Your local customers are itching to give you their business instead of handing over their money to large, faceless companies. Make sure you share the people behind your products and services by including some personal photos. Also, share your company’s story. How and why did you start this business? Did your father start it 33 years ago and the family has been providing quality jewelry sales and repair ever since? Be human.

Use a Call-to Action

By using a bold headline, focusing on the benefits you offer customers, and sharing your personal story and humanity, you’ve laid the groundwork for acquiring a sale. So don’t stop now! Use a call-to-action to tell the customer exactly what you want them to do: pick up the phone, bring in a coupon for 15% off a bag of horse feed, like you on Facebook, etc.

It’s also a great idea to use calls-to-action that prompt repeat or future sales. For instance, using something like, “Book before August 11th and receive a coupon for 10% off your next purchase.” This rewards your new customer when they return to use your services again in the future.

Ask them to pass it onAsk Them to Pass it On

You know the old saying, “Pass it on,” well that very much applies to flyer advertising. Let’s say a local resident sees your flyer in the Sunday paper, but they themselves don’t have a pool so don’t require a pool cleaner. Perhaps they know someone who could use your services. Word of mouth advertising is powerful, so leverage it by including something in your copy that asks the reader to pass on the flyer to someone who may be interested in your product or service.

Use Both Sides

While it is cheaper to only print on one side, it doesn’t cost much more to print on both sides. And, when you think about the fact you’re paying to have your flyer distributed, you might as well get more of your message out there for a slightly higher cost.

Obviously you don’t want your flip side to compete with your main message, so consider using the backside for things like:

  • A comprehensive list of services
  • A map of your exact location
  • Customer testimonials
  • Recent awards


Flyers are no different than any other type of marketing channel when it comes to testing. Always see if you can get an even better return by changing up the headline, body copy and images. Sometimes the smallest changes can bring the biggest results.

Proof Before Submitting Your Order

There’s nothing worse than ordering thousands of flyers and THEN finding a mistake or two. Once your order has been printed, that’s it, there’s no going back and fixing mistakes. Mistakes can undermine all of your advertising efforts, so hire a professional editor if need be to go over your text with a fine-toothed comb.

Flyers are one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways for local businesses to reach their target audience. By following these 7 tips you’ll have a much better chance of ensuring your campaigns increase your reach, leads, and sales.

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

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Cinema Advertising Makes it Big at the Box Office

Posted by Hannah Hill on Tue, Apr 08, 2014 @ 09:37 AM

Movie theaters are a go-to destination for date night, family time, birthday parties and rainy afternoons. All the aforementioned occasions have brought me to a local cinema at one time or another and I’m sure you can relate. Who doesn’t like a trip to the movies? Nielsen’s studies show that moviegoers are male and female, young and old, white and non-white, which means advertisers have the opportunity to reach just about anyone on the big screen, including their target demographic.

According to the Cinema Advertising Council (CAC), cinema advertising revenues reached a new record in 2013: $677.9 million. Compared to the previous year, cinema advertising rose 6.5% in 2013 and the CAC is optimistic about continued growth. CAC President Katy Loria said, “This growth is a result of more new brands moving into cinema, the unique power of the movie theater as a venue for creative, engaging advertising, and a movement by agencies to a more video-neutral approach that places cinema alongside TV and online platforms.”

Local, regional and national advertisers who incorporate cinema advertising into their media mix can take advantage of the following benefits:

Exposure to captive audiences

After moviegoers purchase their tickets and snacks and make a pit stop at the bathroom, they settle into their semi-comfortable seats where they will remain for the next 90 to 120 minutesCinema Advertising Makes it Big at the Box Office with their eyes glued to the big screen. They won’t get up during the movie, especially if sitting in the middle of a row, and they aren’t supposed to be texting or playing Candy Crush during the film either. Movie theaters might be the one place to escape multiscreening. For all of these reasons, advertisers have a rare opportunity to put their messages in front of a captive audience at the movie theater and take advantage of their undivided attention.

Connect with consumers at the local level

When was the last time you arrived early to the theater and there was nothing playing on the screen? Yea, I can’t think of a time either. The amount of pre-movie advertising seems to have increased during the past few years, which leads me to believe it offers a good return on investment. Mixed in with the Hollywood trivia (and friendly reminders to silence our cell phones) are ads for local chiropractors, restaurants, colleges, dental offices and more. These local advertisers use the big screen to increase awareness in their communities and educate consumers about their products and services.

Cinema Advertising Makes it Big at the Box OfficeBut local advertisers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from movie theater advertising; national advertisers want in on the action, too. Cinema advertising gives national advertisers the opportunity to connect with consumers on a local level. I mean, what national advertiser doesn’t want to hang out with their target audience on a Saturday night? Coca-Cola is just one of the many national advertisers using cinema screens to reach consumers. If you caught a movie in early 2013, you probably saw a replay of Coke’s Chase ad which aired during Super Bowl XLVII.

Increased brand recall

Maybe it’s the atmosphere or a chemical in the buttery popcorn, but the cinema outperforms television when it comes to brand recall. According to Nielsen research, brand recall is often 50% greater for advertisements shown at the movie theater than those viewed on television. Because consumers actively seek out movie theaters for the experience, they are more engaged and likely to remember the ads they are shown. It also doesn’t hurt that good movie theater etiquette (e.g. limited whispers and cell phone usage) is still practiced by the majority of moviegoers which eliminates distractions.

Cinema advertising offers a variety of benefits including exposure to captive audiences, the ability to connect with consumers at the local level and increased brand recall. Next week we’ll highlight product placement as another way for advertisers to get in front of consumers at the movies.

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Hannah Hill is a marketing specialist at Mediaspace Solutions. Her marketing experience includes writing, inbound marketing, social media and event management. You can connect with Hannah on LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.

Topics: advertising

Advertisers Continue to Fail Women

Posted by Hannah Hill on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 09:26 AM

The following is a guest post by Jenna Bruce.

As the famous Virginia Slims ad saying goes, "You’ve come a long way, Baby!" And in some ways, women have come a long way. The past two years alone have seen women making Advertisers Continue to Fail Womentremendous strides in politics, business and the entertainment industry.

2012 was a groundbreaking year for women in politics as the congressional elections appointed 20 female senators in total, the most ever in US history. The House of Representatives can also boast a record 79 women holding seats, and Janet Yellin is poised to become the first woman to run the Federal Reserve in the bank’s 100-year history.

For the first time in history there are 20 female CEOs at the 500 biggest US corporations and a growing number of women on major company boards.

Even Hollywood has joined the 21st century (albeit at times kicking and screaming) and begun to depict women as beautiful despite not being a size 2. Shows like "The Mindy Project" and HBO’s wildly popular "Girls" have lead characters that, by most standards, are considered... curvy.

With modern women making such strides, why is it that advertisers are still missing the mark and creating sexist and stereotypical campaigns?

Here are a few recent ads that make my feminine blood boil:

Hey Gals, Science is Just like Fashion!

Let me start with perhaps the most offensive ad (and let me tell you, it’s hard to choose which one is most offensive). In an earlier blog post I ranted about stereotypical advertising and my distaste for the color pink. Well, this ad embraces both.

The intention behind this PSA was no doubt good (at least I sincerely hope the intention was good). Getting more young girls and teens interested in science is a noble endeavor. However, this video, created by the European Union Commission, relies on stereotypes that girls are only interested in fashion and makeup.

An article in the Huffington Post which mentioned this campaign summed it up best: "Love nail polish? You'll love hydrogen even more! Fashionable sunglasses are just like lab goggles!" Oy.


It’s 2014, so why is it that so many ads still use boobs as the star of the show? Here’s an AxeAdvertisers Continue to Fail Women ad (you can generally rely on Axe ads to promote both male and female stereotypes) which is basically saying women are obsessed with a man’s full head of hair and men are obsessed with a woman’s ta-tas.

Sex Sells Burgers

This is one of those commercials that seems like it HAS to be an SNL skit; it’s so horrible it’s funny. But it’s not an SNL skit – it’s a real commercial that someone pitched in a boardroom and eventually aired on TV. I guess my question would be, did this ad really sell more burgers?

Women Have No Minds – Or in This Case - Heads

Here’s an ad that stars surfer Stephanie Gilmore. The ad focuses only on her body and never shows her face. Not once. There are many ads out there like this which sends the clear message that women are to be objectified. We are only our body parts and not the mind or the person inside.

All Women Care About is Shoes!

The last time I checked I was a woman, and I can tell you honestly that I own... I believe six pairs of shoes. There may be some in storage, but I can’t say for sure. My point is, I am not obsessed with shoes. They keep my feet protected from cold, wetness and things that could seriously injure me. Other than that, I just don’t care that much. I’ve met other women from all over the globe who share my dispassion for shoes; we simply have other things that hold our attention more. But, according to this D.C. Metro Campaign, all women want to talk about and think about are... you guessed it... shoes!

Even Google jumped on the stereotypes bandwagon with this commercial for their new inbox. The ad perpetuates the myth that all "us ladies" care about is shoes, getting mani-pedis, knitting and going on dates with really cute boys.

Our Thighs Can’t Touch

While photoshopping models isn't exactly big news, there is something particularly creepy and offensive about Target's recent swimsuit fail.

The model in this ad not only has incredibly thin, long arms that don’t appear even human, her crotch area has also been blatantly airbrushed and a chunk of the suit has actually been cropped out, giving her an artificial "thigh gap."

Last year "thigh gaps" gained media attention when eating disorder advocates noted teenage girls were striving for a body weight so low their thighs wouldn't touch, even when they were standing with their feet together! Way to go, Target.

No, I Really Don’t 'Want It'

The fact that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” song and video were a hit last summer says something really sad about our society. “I know you want it?” Uh, no, Robin. No, I really don’t. Then Radio Shack comes up with the brilliant idea to use the song and video to promote its Beats Pill speaker, a speaker which just happens to look like... well, you see for yourself.

Oy, I rest my case.

I think what bothers me most about these ads is the same thing that bothers me about failed advertising for men: it’s lazy. Advertising is supposed to be creative and tap into real issues and problems that people face. If you want your campaigns to stand out and attract new business, think of how your product or service can solve people’s problems and present those benefits in creative ways that don’t rely on stereotypes or sexist concepts.

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Topics: advertising, advertising campaigns