Sterling Media Northwest specializes in Creative Multi-Media Ad Campaigns adaptable for Tv, Radio, Digital, Print, Social Media, Products, Direct Mailing, Outdoor, and Guerilla Marketing purposes. Our team prides themselves on taking the best interests of our clientele to heart without sacrificing on creativity. Let’s just say, we are not afraid to tell you the plain truth, or to propose ideas that may be a little “out of the box” to move the meter in the right direction. Campaigns for public awareness, branding, events, specific products or services, are all different, but should usually maintain a constancy in message, theme, color, and feel which references the corporate brand identity.
The consumer pathway is not what it used to be. Only with a deep understanding of businesses diverse minutiae, while still perceiving a ‘big-picture’ vision of the synergy of the organism’s parts working together, can a company like ours provide an encompassing approach to help the business maximize it’s potential energy. How a business will engage with its customers, and how the customer decides upon the journey of engagement that follows, is causing a sea-change in the marketing and advertising world. A customer-decided journey that only a skilled team, like that of Sterling Media Northwest, can help to harness for maximum potential and return on investment. Sterling Media Northwest is skilled at, and has a proven track-record for, bringing in customers to a business and making them evangelists for the brand.
Does your company need an ongoing roll-out of :30-second TV ads to tell your story – backed up with outdoor billboards and targeted digital marketing in the mix? Sterling Media Northwest can do it! Need a new message delivered to bars on matchbooks, bar towels and drink coasters? We can do it! Need product placement in a nationally-broadcast television series or regional internet radio? Sterling Media Northwest can get great results on that for you, too! Broadcast Networks, Cable Nets, Newspaper Websites, Pandora, YouTube and Google Adwords, we’ve got the mad skills to maximize the impact! Let our team develop an effective and memorable creative ad campaign, which will stick in the minds and hearts of your customers and target audience.
Sending email is free, creating a Facebook page is free, Twitter outreach is free, cold-calling is free, publicity is free, referrals are free, and advertising costs money.
So why is it that even with all of these wonderfully low cost and free ways to promote your business I contend that you must make advertising one of your core lead generation tactics? (Actually one could argue if anything is free, but the items listed above don’t come with a direct cost.)
Advertising is in fact one of the marketing tactics that comes with an invoice. You must write a check to run ads or send direct mail, often before seeing any results. In my experience people shy away from advertising, not because of the cost, because they don’t know how to get results and they don’t understand the long-term residual effects. Think about it, if you knew that for every $100 you spent you could produce $200, you would get out your check book and spend away, right?
To get results from advertising today you must
But, that’s a topic for another post, today I want to first get the leverage to help you understand why you must add advertising to mix and then we can start to talk about how.
When done effectively advertising is an essential part of mix because:
An advertising plan and an advertising strategy provide the framework for small businesses and their advertising agencies to develop, review and measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns in line with advertising and marketing objectives. An advertising strategy sets out the method by which advertising meets the advertising objectives. The advertising plan describes the creative and media tactics, budget, schedule and other elements of the strategy.
Strategy: An advertising strategy provides an overview and broad direction for the advertising campaign. If the advertising objective is to increase New York consumers’ awareness of a local food brand by 25 percent, for example, the strategy will describe how advertising can meet that objective. The strategy recommendation might be to build brand awareness through high levels of exposure, position the brand as a high-quality product and encourage retailers to stock the product.
Review: The client team and the advertising agency team review the strategy document to ensure that it can meet the advertising objectives. The agency team can then develop a detailed advertising plan to put the strategy into practice. Simply creating advertising for its own sake, without a strategy, is unlikely to deliver the best return on marketing expenditure. According to advertising agency Adcracker, the advertising brief is like a road map that helps a team get quickly to the right solution.
Plan: The advertising plan describes how to put that strategy into practice. To build brand awareness, for example, the plan might include a recommendation for a series of advertisements in city newspapers, on local radio stations and on poster sites. To position the brand, the plan might call for a creative approach that suggests high quality and an association with the New York lifestyle. The plan would also include recommendations for building distribution through advertising to retailers and a sales promotion campaign to encourage consumers to sample the products.
Media: The advertising plan sets out the media for the campaign, with details of the target audience, the number of advertisements and their cost. It describes the size of press advertisements and the running time for radio commercials. This part of the plan also indicates how frequently advertisements will appear and the time span for the complete campaign.
Creative: The creative proposals in the advertising plan describe the important messages that each advertisement will convey and the techniques used to attract attention and communicate the messages clearly. The plan will describe any response mechanism, such as a reply coupon or website address, so that the advertiser can make arrangements to handle the response.
Budget: The plan should include a detailed budget, setting out all the costs for the campaign and indicating when the costs will fall. The campaign is designed to meet measurable objectives, so the plan should indicate how the agency will measure the campaign.
Whether you run a small business or a multi-million dollar corporation, marketing is essential to your profitability and growth. Yet many small businesses don’t allocate enough money to marketing or, worse, spend it haphazardly.
I recently got to know a business that was investing heavily in developing a hip, niche product to add to its already very cool product line. Seemed like a sure winner. However, it quickly became apparent that product development had occurred in a silo, while sales and marketing were off doing their own thing. The result? The week before launch, the business found itself with a fantastic product on its hands, but lacked a go-to-market plan or promotional material for the new product.
In a panic, an expensive PR firm, social media strategist, and marketing consultant were all pulled in to help drive awareness of the new product. Within a few weeks, the budget had run dry and the business had to quickly revisit its overall operational and sales and marketing strategy, while moving forward on a shoestring.
Products and services don’t sell themselves. By ignoring marketing until it’s too late, many small businesses risk hitting a brick wall and, quite possibly, failing. A hip and trendy product line shouldn’t rely solely on ongoing product investment and word of mouth.
But how much money should you allocate to marketing? And how can you spend it wisely? Here are some tips that can help you do both:
How to Calculate your Marketing Budget
Many businesses allocate a percentage of actual or projected gross revenues – usually between 2-3 percent for run-rate marketing and up to 3-5 percent for start-up marketing. But the allocation actually depends on several factors: the industry you’re in, the size of your business, and its growth stage. For example, during the early brand building years retail businesses spend much more than other businesses on marketing – up to 20 percent of sales.
As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between 1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.).
This percentage also assumes you have margins in the range of 10-12 percent (after you’ve covered your other expenses, including marketing).
If your margins are lower than this, then you might consider eating more of the costs of doing business by lowering your overall margins and allocating additional spending to marketing. It’s a tough call, but your marketing budget should never be based on just what’s left over once all your other business expenses are covered.
Spending Your Budget Wisely
Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing is critical; even more critical is how you spend it.
This means having a plan. Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan, outlining the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.
To get a sense of what your plan should include, take a look at this article from SBA guest blogger, Rieva Lesonsky: Does Your Business Have a Marketing Plan? Also check out How to Cut Your Marketing Budget and Build Your Brand Profitably.
Revisit Your Plans Often and Track ROI
Once you have developed your marketing plan and budget, remember that it needn’t be fixed and inflexible. There may be times when you need to throw in another unplanned campaign or event. At the end of the day, knowing whether it your spending is actually helping you achieve your marketing goals is more important than sticking to your budget.
Have a plan in place for measuring your spending and the impact that activities have on your bottom line. Compare tactics, analyze seasonal effects – was one quarter more profitable than another? Why? Above all, have patience and follow through on all your marketing efforts across the organization – it takes a village to build and grow a brand.
Some tactics are hard to measure, like the efficacy of print collateral, but you need to consider the impact of not having these branding staples in your tool kit before you reign in your graphic design and print funds.
Marketing plans should be maintained on an annual basis at a minimum, and revisited if you launch a new product/service, or if the market landscape changes.