Know exactly who you are talking too!

Advertising is one of those things that actually much more straight froward to get right than everyone thinks. But strangely most small and medium sized businesses having tried it, have found it difficult to judge whether it has worked for them or not.

To advertise or not to advertise, that is the question? 

In my book, not being sure that your advertising is working is the same as being sure it’s not working. When it works, you know. You increase sales, increase leads or at the very least notice the talkability around your business increasing. If those things are missing, then it’s not working – Simple.

I promise it’s not difficult. In fact, I sometimes think the only reason so much ‘bad advertising’ is out there is because there are so many ‘bad advertising’ sales people. Why wouldn’t more people get it right otherwise?

There are plenty of people who do get it right too. With a few simple decisions, you can make sure your advertising works as well as theirs.

In this blog I’ll deal with the first couple of questions you need to answer, and will conclude the advice in part 2.

The first thing you need to be sure of is who you think it is you need to talk to.

Be Specific 

Be as specific as you can be when deciding who to talk to, and be really disciplined too. If its women you want to speak to, fine, stick to women. But try to break it down even further. Young women? Older women? Mums? Single women? Aunties? Grannies? Girls that enjoy sport, or those that like to read. Who EXACTLY are we talking too.

And make sure you don’t allow your targeting to drift. It’s quite likely you have more than one specific target customer. Thats great, no problem, but you can’t then make one ad, or have one campaign try to reach multiple markets.

Imagine trying to make an ad appeal to a young university aged sporty type, and an older, maybe retired interested in traveling around the UK type? Too difficult right? Simple solution – Do two ads, or as many as it takes to reach EACH of the markets you have segmented.

Trying to talk to too many people at the same time is a typical reason for a failing campaign.

Give it every chance – please 

If you can’t afford multiple ads, or multiple creative treatments, then pick one. Ideally pick the one that’s most likely to return on your investment. There is no reason to try to catch your advertising out.

Rest assured most advertising sales people would give anything to get their clients great results. Don’t put stuff in your ads that never sells. There is nothing inherently powerful in advertising that can make a product that you can’t sell, suddenly sell. And don’t try to reach people who you have not previously been able to sell to.

For example, I’ve lost count of the number of times clients have told me they would like to appeal to a more up market client. Thats all well and good, but changing your advertising isn’t going to do that on its own. If you have never sold to upmarket consumers, and don’t have a product that appeals to up market consumers, no amount of advertising on Classic FM is going to attract them.

Talking of Classic FM…

Once you have an idea of who you specifically want to talk to, you need to try to work out where you can reach them. What media should you use? The list is long and varied, so be careful. There are loads of ways to quickly spend tons of cash and not get a penny back. Get a feel for the type of audience that consumes a type of media, but make sure you take some advice if you don’t know. It’s too easy to make mistakes based on what you like, what you read, what websites you visit or what you listen to or watch on TV.

Not liking a radio personality is believe it or not, one of the regular reasons people give to not advertise on a particular radio station., This is nonsense. If your customers (as identified above) listen, you need to advertising there. You don’t have to like it yourself. By the way, you don’t have to like your either – your customers do.

6 rules to follow 

1) It’s better to dominate one media than spread yourself too thinly. Buy tons of press rather than a bit of this and a bit of that.

2) Quality costs. It’s a simple law of supply and demand. If it works, people want it. Anyway, why would you want to buy CHEAP advertising? Do you buy anything else cheaply?

3) The more you spend, the better it will work. This is just a fact of life I’m afraid.

4) There are two ways to hit niche audiences. Buy a niche product or buy a broadcast product. One targets a very specific demographic and so it usually be very efficient. The other targets a broad range of people, and if there is a decent size audience, there will be a decent size niche audience within it.

5) Outside right hand pages, colour, above the fold, first in break, celeb endorsement etc etc can all be important. They are worth paying extra for so don’t dismiss them as empty up sell on the media owners part. This is up there with giving your campaign every chance to work. Who exactly are you trying to catch out?

6) Be consistent. Don’t practice ‘hide and seek’ advertising. Don’t make it hard for your customers to find you. You have to spend to do this. It’s an essential business cost. Name a mega brand, or global corporation, or any other sort of successful business that doesn’t spend a fortune on advertising?

Keep going and get it right. Ask the opinion of your network. Ask your sales people or their management. Ask Ad agencies for their input. Just don’t quit on it.

After 20 years of selling advertising in any number of different forms and different areas I can PROMISE you it will make you a ton of cash if done properly. These are the first steps. Next time I’ll get to the really good stuff! The stuff that will make a huge difference to the results you get.

In the meantime, let me know what you think? Any other tips I might have missed? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or tweet me on @radiojaja

And stand by for part 2 soon!

  1. Mike Bersin
    Mike Bersin says:

    Perfect as always Tony. It’s weird how many businesses believe advertising is optional. Most business can sell you what they claim to sell. Their biggest business issue is getting customers. Advertising is the way you get customers. What’s B & Qs biggest skill? Getting customers.

  2. Nicky Cook
    Nicky Cook says:

    Great article Tony, getting the information to hit home is the problem, I have been out pounding the pavements today, and all I get back is “can’t afford it” or “no not this month” and my advertising packages are very reasonable (as I am relatively new to the UK). Businesses don’t seem to realize in today’s current climate it is more important than ever to advertise. Its dog eat dog and who ad’s wins

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Hi Nicky – thats a great question! And one I have covered in detail in a number of posts (try

      Essentially, in my experience, there are only two reasons people dont buy advertising

      1) They cant afford it, and I mean genuinely can’t afford it (in which case we shouldn’t be talking to them)

      2) They dont think its going to work for them! probably because they tried it before and it didn’t work

      How might this knowledge change your approach?

      If you’d like to pick this up directly, email me and I’d happily have a chat with you? [email protected] or tweet me, and I’ll get in touch!

      Good luck!