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

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can (Almost) Guarantee Their Success

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 @ 10:59 AM

Starting a small business is akin to ice skating on mud – it’s really, really hard. Actually, to be more accurate, starting a small business is hard, but getting that business to grow and succeed is next to impossible, or so it seems.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly two-thirds of businesses survive their first 2 years in business, half of all businesses will survive about 5 years, and only one-third will survive 10 years. Those numbers can be intimidating.

So how can small business owners ensure they’re one of the “lucky” ones? While there are no guarantees in life, there are things small business owners can do to set themselves up for success.Small Business Strategy. Green Chalkboard on the Gray Concrete Wall in the Interior of a Modern Office with Hand Drawn Small Business Strategy. Business Concept with Doodle Style Elements. 3D..jpeg

  1. Start Your Business for the Right Reason

The most successful business owners created their business not to make money, but because they had a passion. They wanted to somehow solve a problem or provide an incredible service. Some want to do this while creating jobs in their local community.

If you start a business simply because you want to be your own boss and make a lot of money, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and heartache.

  1. Focus on Building and Maintaining Customer Relationships

No matter how great you think your product or service is, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t stick around for very long. This is why it’s important for small business owners to focus on building and maintaining customer relationships.

How do you do that?

  1. Anticipate your customers’ needs
  2. Maintain contact (nurture the relationship)
  3. Be completely transparent

Your goal should always be to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with your customers. Spend some time educating them on your business and then focus on helping them achieve their goals.

  1. Invest in Technology

The businesses that succeed are the ones that leverage the power of technology to gain a competitive advantage. Small biz owners are expected to wear too many hats. They must be experts in finance, accounting and legal aspects of their business.

While you may not yet have the budget to hire in-house professionals, or even outsource to lawyers or accountants, you can invest in technology that will help you automate repeatable tasks and provide valuable insights into your business’ finances. Consider using solutions like CRM and recurring payment systems to help you succeed.

  1. When You Can Afford Help – Get Some

Far too many small business owners don’t recognize the point at which they should begin to hire more help. They are so used to doing everything themselves, they have a tremendously hard time letting go and handing the reigns over to other people.

But, just as a bodybuilder needs to lift more weight to grow muscles, business owners need to delegate more responsibilities to grow their business. The more tasks you can give others, the more you’ll be able to focus on ways to improve your products and customer relations.

One of the best ways to hand over the reins is to hire a professional media buyer who can help you develop and launch your advertising campaigns. Handling this task on your own for any length of time may result in poor ROI and ads that land with a thud.

Mediaspace Solutions has spent years working with small business owners, assisting them with their national, regional and local media buys. With newspaper and digital media buying as our specialties, we help small business owners get the ROI they need to be successful.

If you’d like hep with your advertising, get in touch with us today.

 

Topics: advertising, benefits of print, media planning, small business, marketing goals

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

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 Select the Right Media Planning Agency

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Sep 02, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

If you’re a small- to medium-sized company, you know firsthand that a careful and strategic media campaign can help grow your business from a local player to a national brand. That’s the good news. The bad news is, launching a successful media campaign is one part art form, two parts science, and a whole lot of skill and knowledge.

Today’s media landscape is utterly confusing with new channels being added regularly. It takes a sophisticated media process to execute a successful campaign in the current marketplace, which is why many organizations are reaching out to professional media planning agencies.

But how do you choose the right agency for your particular campaign’s needs? The most experienced and qualified media specialists generally follow specific steps when they plan a media buy.

When speaking with potential media partners, make sure they follow these best practices:

market-analysisThey Conduct a Thorough Market Analysis

Solid media planning does not exist in a vacuum and a qualified media agency will, without question, complete a background analysis of your company before developing any sort of media buying plan. This analysis will take a strategic look at your business objectives as well as review your business’ sales, distribution, and competitive environments.

They Understand Financial Concepts

When speaking with your potential partners, make sure they understand basic financial concepts such as lifetime value of a customer, profit margins, the breakeven point of a program, seasonality of purchases and your sales cycle length. This is important because your planner will need to develop a strategy that aligns with your budget so you can get the greatest ROI possible.

They Use the Right Tools

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to find the right media partner. For example, you should ask which analytic tools they use to determine which market to target. These tools should be able to tell them what your target market’s media habits are. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a media program if your message isn’t delivered to the right audience.

They Should Match Target Research to the Proper Media Mixmediamix

As we mentioned up top, the media landscape has become much more complex with fragmentation. A great media planner knows it doesn’t matter how cost efficient the buy was if the buy isn’t effective. If your targets aren’t reached, your campaign was all for not (AKA worthless).

Matching target research to the proper media mix is the foundation of every good and effective media program. Speak with your potential media partner and ask how they build a media mix. What experience do they have with the media they are proposing? Also, ask for specific examples of programs they’ve planned and run for other clients using the same channels.

They Believe in Testing

A professional media planner knows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to media buys. They believe in customizing plans for each and every client to insure their program uses the budget effectively and efficiently while delivering quantifiable results. Your media partner should embrace testing various media to find just the right mix for your objectives.

They Have Established a Successful Negotiation Process

handshakeEvery single media planner you sit down with will tell you the same thing: they negotiate the best price. Well, they should, or why are they in business in the first place? However, great negotiation is about much more than getting the best price – it’s also about getting the best placement.

The best media planners and buyers negotiate with one objective and that is to deliver BOTH the best price and the best spot where the target customer will be able to engage with your messaging. Brilliant concept, right? Don’t settle for anything less!

Choosing the right media planning agency for you can at times seem daunting. If you follow these guidelines you should be able to select the agency that will offer you a higher level of success and greater ROI.

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Image Credit: "Handshake" by EDHAR / shutterstock.com

Topics: media buying, media planning, media planning agency

5 Rules for Determining the Right Media Mix

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 01:16 PM

With the continued fragmentation of the marketing landscape, it has become increasingly difficult for CMOs to know whether or not they are spending their budgets on the right media mix. Obviously, every individual brand has different campaign objectives, but typically speaking, there are some hard and fast rules to recognizing if your media mix is working for you or not.

Rule Number 1: If None of Your Traffic/Leads are Coming from Mobile – It’s Time to Shake Things Up

While different industries and verticals require different channels to reach their audience, at this point in time, mobile marketing should definitely be a part of your media mix. Consumers are now spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before, which means if none of your business is coming from mobile campaigns, you’re leaving an awful lot of money on the table.

And, to be clear, the importance of including mobile into your marketing mix goes for purely online businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses, local, national, B2B and B2C businesses. Mobile is simply one of the best ways to get yourself in front of a larger audience.

Rule Number 2: If You’re Not Using Your First-Party Data, You’re Most Likely Not Using the Best Channels Available to Youstatistics-90357_1280

Perhaps you jumped on the CRM (customer relationship management) bandwagon awhile back and are now using a system with incredibly robust features. You may even have a healthy base of customers and a perfectly segmented list of subscribers. But are you using the data available to you?

If you’re still not advertising on Facebook or display because the two other times you tried, your campaigns didn’t perform well, then no, chances are you aren’t leveraging your data.

In the last few years alone the targeting options available to marketers have exploded. Think Google’s Similar Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, and Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. By using your data you can determine who your customers already are, then use these new channels to go prospecting for people who “look” just like them.

Rule Number 3: Spy on Your Competition to Know What Channels are Working for Them

Are you paying attention to what your competitors are doing? You should be, because this can generally be the greatest source of marketing information available to you. While we are not suggesting you build your entire marketing campaign and strategy on copycatting, we are suggesting that the next time you plan your media mix, take a look at what channels your competitors are using and how successful they are, because odds are they are targeting the exact same demographics.

facebook-twitter-mobile-apps-ss-1920

Rule Number 4: Don’t Throw Money at Every Shiny New Channel

At one time Pinterest, Instagram and Vine were all shiny new channels, and they’ve turned out to be very useful in many brands’ marketing mix. But for every successful new channel there are a dozen duds that come onto the digital scene.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all new advertising options, but fiscally speaking, it’s better to be in the second wave of adopters. A majority of new channels have bugs and unrefined reporting, so why not let those with bigger budgets test the waters first?

Rule Number 5: Make Sure You Really Know What Each Channel Offers

How can you possibly know which channels will serve you best unless you know exactly what they offer? For instance, should you add newspaper ads into your mix? Well, if your ideal prospect is a baby boomer with a healthy dose of disposable income, then yes you should. Newspapers are highly effective at delivering your message to this particular demographic. If you are a B2B marketer and haven’t really looked into LinkedIn, why not? If you’re selling a very visual product but haven’t tested Pinterest yet, again, why not? Until you really know the advantages of each channel, you’ll have a hard time determining the right mix for your campaigns.

Knowing which channels you should be spending your budget on isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thought, investigating and subsequent testing. Use these 5 rules to help you determine the winning media mix for your business.

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

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Topics: media buying, media planning

5 Steps to Effective Media Planning

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:12 AM

In this ever-cluttered marketplace, many advertisers are making a critical mistake. They focus too heavily on budget when developing their campaigns and completely neglect something far more important: their media plan. For your campaigns to be successful and your messages to make the right impact, much thought should be given to the markets you serve and the channels you choose for delivery.

Here are five steps to effective media planning:

1. Define Your Goal

What is the goal of your particular campaign? Is it to extend your brand awareness? To announce a new product line? Promote a sale? Get people to sign up for your webinar or newsletter? Each of your ad campaigns must be assigned just one specific goal. You can’t plan media without a goal in mind.

2. Determine Your Ideal Prospect5 Steps to Effective Media Planning

Before you can begin to brainstorm potential media channels, you’ve first got to determine, if you don’t know already, who your ideal prospect is. Start by looking at your current customer base. Who buys from you and why do they buy from you? Which customers bring you the most business? Chances are other people like these customers would also buy from you.

Another great resource is your competition. Who are they targeting? Who’s currently buying from them? The key is to NOT target the same people, rather look for a niche market your competitors are overlooking.

And finally, analyze your own products or services with a focus on the benefits. Once you know what your benefits are, you’ll know who your product may benefit. For example, your pizza shop delivers until 10PM when everyone else stops delivering by 8PM. Your service will benefit college kids and adults getting home late from night classes.

3. Conduct the Necessary Research

Once you know your target market you’ll need to conduct the necessary research so you can determine the best channels to reach prospects. What are the most trusted media outlets in your industry? What are your prospects’ interests? How do they get their news? Which social media platforms do they prefer?

You’ll also want to review all the publications and digital channels you are considering to ascertain potential cost. For example, how large of an ad will you need to stand out in your local paper? Can you make a big impact with a half page ad, or will you need to bring out the big guns and buy a full-page full-color ad?

5 Steps to Effective Media Planning4. Plan Ahead for the Greatest Value

Planning your media buys well in advance will ultimately help you get better value because it will allow you to sign contracts ahead of time. Doing so offers three main cost benefits:

  1. By signing frequency agreements you can often obtain discounted rates.
  2. You can usually sign contracts and be able to lock in present year rates which will extend through the following year.
  3. Signing contracts well in advance allows you to negotiate with digital publishers and print sales reps.

Be sure to inquire about premium positions which go fast and go early.

5. Get Some Help

At any point during your media planning if you feel overwhelmed, your best bet is to seek help from a reputable media buyer. Working with a media buyer offers multiple benefits.

For starters, they generally have various programs to fit a variety of advertising goals and budgets.

Secondly, media buyers are specialists who make it their business to be efficient in market and data analysis as well as understanding the performance of all channels from outdoor to print and mobile. Media buyers also have longstanding relationships with publishers and vendors so they can effectively work on your behalf.

And finally, media buyers are able to negotiate and get the best prices for their clients because they bring so much business to vendors and sales reps. Beyond better terms and rates, buyers can often negotiate bonus media space and extended contract times.

When it comes down to it, media planning is the backbone of your entire brand message. The stronger that backbone is, the harder your campaigns will work for you, and the bigger your bottom line will be.

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Image credit: "The Assembly" by Linda Goldstein is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Topics: media planning

Media Planning 101

Posted by Hannah Hill on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 @ 10:59 AM

Selecting the right media platforms to advertise your products or services can be a daunting task and requires time, energy and strategy. A “set it and forget it” approach isn’t going to prove very successful as media planning should never be put on autopilot. With the plethora of media options, and the rate at which new options become available, careful consideration should be given to each alternative at the onset of each advertising campaign. Some advertisers handle the media planning on their own, but it’s no surprise why some enlist the help of an agency. What follows is an introductory course on the ins and outs of media planning.

Determine the campaign objective

First things first: figure out the goal of the advertising campaign. Without a clear objective you won’t be able to evaluate whether or not the campaign is successful. Goals can vary from increasing brand awareness to driving store traffic to stealing breakfast business from McDonald’s.

HS-goals

Determine the right media mix

As I alluded to in the introduction, media planning isn’t getting any easier, especially since technology continues to affect consumers’ media consumption habits. The days of deciding between newspaper, television and radio are long gone as new media have joined the party, but this doesn’t mean advertisers should neglect traditional media altogether. Traditional media, when paired with non-traditional channels, can greatly increase the reach of a campaign. Figure out what your target audience is reading, watching and listening to, and then include it in your media mix.

Determine the media schedule

Once you have selected the right media mix for your ad campaign, you have to wisely pick the dates the ads will appear on TV, in the newspaper, on the radio and on your local news website. Pay close attention to holidays and other events when planning your schedule and know that circulation can vary from one day to the next.

Pick one: frequency or reach

You can’t have it all, at least not without investing a significant chunk of change. Do you want to cast a wide net and reach as many people as possible, or would you rather repeatedly hit fewer people with your message? This decision will be harder to make than “paper or plastic” at the grocery checkout but easier than accepting a marriage proposal from someone you’re not entirely sure is “the one.” Determine which is most important to you and adjust your media schedule accordingly.

Set the budget

Your budget may help narrow available media options. In addition to determining the overall media budget, you will need to determine how to best allocate it across your options. Will you evenly distribute it across media or focus primarily on one medium with a couple supporting channels? Consider which outlets offer the best return on investment and spend wisely.

Evaluate success

HS-thumb-up-thumb-downJust as you shouldn’t hop on the scale every day to see if you’re losing weight, you shouldn’t expect to see immediate results. Set benchmarks before kicking off the campaign and measure success at the end of every week, month or quarter. Make changes as needed to ensure the continued success of the campaign.

Now that you have completed Media Planning 101, you have two options. You can either use the steps outlined above to determine the media strategy for your next advertising campaign, or if you’re not feeling up for it you can give us a call at 888-672-2100 and leave it to us. The choice is yours.

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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: media planning