I had an interesting chat with Chris from Jump'in Jacks'bouncy castle hire about marketing his new business Mad Hatters party shop (website coming soon I hope!!) in the newspaper. Basically he’s taken out an advert with a local paper but I don’t personally feel he’s gone about it the right way. Seeing as he’s not the first client I’ve spoken to about this in the past month (Miss Mays adult store to name another) I feel I should explain why I feel he’s made a mistake.
You want to promote your new fancy dress shop to the local market. You decide the local (free) paper is the best method so you take out an advert in your local paper that is along the lines of:
*This is similar but not exactly the same as Chris’ scenario ;)
What’s the problem?
I’m not a marketing person but common sense tells me there are a few issues with this scenario but primarily you have no way of evaluating its success. How will you know whether it’s worth spending that £x again?
What should you do?
When planning on promoting your business in i.e. the local newspaper, a little research wouldn’t go amiss. Firstly work out who you want to target with your advert, then work out what the best medium to contact them over is and then research that medium itself.
Taking the scenario of a fancy dress shop that would like to capture more local trade, the local paper is a good place to advertise. The first problem I foresee is; locally we’ve got at least 3 different newspaper publishers and each has its own main catchments area, more than this, I know at least one has a dedicated paper for each area. With a little research you can work out which paper is most suitable for your establishment. Remember that you should identify the local paper for your establishment not the local paper for your residence as unless you live above your shop, you’ll most likely find out that they’re two different papers…
Depending on your budget I would recommend running a single campaign in each local publication. How you go about this is up to you, if you’ve got time, select a different paper each time until you’ve had at least one advert in each (you could run two different areas at the same time but having two adverts within one area may mean you’re advertising to the same person twice which would be an unfair test), you’ll then be able to judge which paper had the best return. Make sure you use the same advert for each paper to make it a fair test! It’s also worth noting that it’s commonly recognised that people need to see an advert three times before it registers with them.
Once you have your chosen publisher it’s time to design your advert, you’ll obviously be restricted by budget but get the biggest area you can afford (within reason), for a voucher promotion something A5 size should be more than enough. If you can afford a designer give them the brief and have them mock something up. They should be able to do something pretty decent that can be reused for around £100.
When you’re designing the advert, don’t just throw on your contact details and think that’s enough. You need a clearly defined call to action, this could be anything from a discount to a competition. The idea is to get someone into your shop so give them a reason to go there!
It may also be suitable to gather some data about your customer, many people don’t mind giving you a little information about themselves if they’re getting something cheaper (or free!) so take advantage of that* -you’ll be able to use it for direct marketing or customer analysis later.
*Also look up the rules and regulations around Data Protection.
Ready to go? Not yet. You still don’t have any way of telling which campaign was most effective. Most email campaigns now include something called a beacon image which tells the campaign manager that you’ve opened the email, sadly you can’t get this information from the newspaper but you can track the conversions by adding some form of identifier to the voucher. In my example below I’ve added a tracking code “EP19120310P” it’s perhaps a little overkill but it basically stands for: “Example Paper 19th December 2006 10 Percent Off”. This is important as when you come to analyse the conversions you’ll quickly be able to identify not only which paper it came from, which date but also the offer. Using something along these lines will enable you to track different offers in different papers (or even the different offers in the same paper), by varying the offers you’ll be able to identify the best conversion.
Now you’re ready to go, get the advert placed and on the day of publication get hold of a copy and check out your location, see how you stand out in the paper, if you feel your advert doesn’t stand out as much as the others on the page, work out why, is it the use of specific colours? Or perhaps theirs is in a better font –make a note of it for the next advert!
Finding the ideal combination of paper and offer will be trial and error but as long as you have a method of tracking, analysing the results and quantifying the conversions it shouldn’t take you too long to establish which campaigns pay off and which are just costly.
This is just a quick mock-up using the same area as above as an example, I’m neither a marketer or designer so I’m sure there’s plenty of flaws with this (hint: post a comment on them)!
- Research your target audience
- Identify the best publisher to use
- Plan your advert and clearly outline your call to action
- Add some method of tracking to the advert
- Analyse your results and adjust your future advert(s) accordingly