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business -Advertising Feature- ADVICE FOR BUSINESS Prepare now for post recession

As the UK economy continues to bump along with zero and sub- zero growth figures, one could be forgiven for thinking that now is a bad time to look at investing in marketing and advertising but history shows us that those businesses who were bold enough to invest during the last major recession (businesses like Ryanair for example) have subsequently reaped the rewards.

Enterprises who prepare now and promote themselves ahead of their competitors will be well placed to take advantage of the economic upturn and are more likely to see significant growth. Jason Harris, Creative Director at local media company IMS, offers some snippets of advice on marketing and advertising.

‘Fail to plan and plan to fail’ is a well known phrase especially to those in the world of business but the importance of pro-active planning cannot be ignored. Put very simply, in order for any business to survive and develop, it’s adviseable to plan ahead, especially in the areas of sales & marketing.

Many businesses locally and nationally have had an extremely hard time weathering the economic storm and have emerged somewhat bruised and battered - but take heart, if all the signs and economic predictions are correct, we could well have experienced the worst of it. But what now for business?

It’s likely as the economic picture improves, that business leaders across the UK will now be thinking about how to attract new customers with advertising likely to be a key area of spending. But before committing your hard-earned money to advertising, here’s ten important points to consider;

1 Does your business have a forward thinking marketing and advertising strategy or plan in place? If not, the advertising is only likely to be, at best, 50% as effective as it could be.

2 What kind of customers are you trying to attract? The easy answer is ‘anybody who wants my product or service’ but unless you have a limitless advertising budget, it is almost impossible to talk to everyone. Instead it’s best to identify a particular group of people and concentrate on reaching them.

3 What is your advertising budget going to be? Have a clear idea of how much you can realistically spend on advertising and try not to deviate from it. Lots of opportunities will come along with ‘never-to-be-repeated offers’. With a clear plan and budget, you’ll be more focussed on what you are trying to acheive and won’t be tempted by the next great offer, which may not be the best way to promote your business.

4 Think about what you’re promoting and how you want the target audience to respond. Too many times, adverts with little thought get published that do little more than display the product and a telephone number. In order for advertising to be effective, it needs to be attractive, have a strong message and ask the reader/viewer/listener to do something or respond in a certain way.

5 Take a long-term view of marketing and advertising - it isn’t a quick-fix with instant results, it needs to be regular, over a set period of time. Even big national advertisers rely on this method and their marketing campaigns are worked out over longer periods. This gives time for the message to sink in and ensures that everybody you’re trying to reach has ample opportunity to hear your message. So if you have a very limited budget, it’s even more important to have a robust plan in place to make sure you’re getting maximum value for money.

44 Life Begins

Jason Harris from IMS


6 Monitor your competitors. What advertising are they doing? What offers are they promoting? Sometimes, it may not be beneficial to just compete on price. What else can your company offer that may make it stand out? Perhaps you’re able to offer interest-free finance or a longer guarantee?

7 Monitor response rates. Wherever possible, when receiving enquiries, you and your staff could be asking where people heard about you or where they got your telephone number from. You’ll very quickly begin to build a picture of what media is working the best for you.

8 Don’t forget to mix good marketing and PR with your advertising campaign. This will reinforce your advertising, making it much more effective and credible.

9 Give your campaigns time to work. Too many very good campaigns have had the plug pulled on them too early simply because they don’t deliver immediate results. History tells us that some of the most successful campaigns from top UK companies are those that have been around for a while and the results come later. (Remember the Guinness or Hamlet cigar campaigns?)

10 Is your current marketing department or media agency doing enough for you? The minimum you should expect from any reputable marketing agency or marketing department is a full strategy for the coming 6 months (or 3 months if your plans are normally seasonal) including the mediums and/or publications to be used to promote your product or company, fully costed with anticpated response or result (if any), follow-up activity planned and details on how the campaign will be measured. You will want to know that in the long-run there is adequate return on your investment - whether that be in the form of increased sales or increased awareness, and if the campaign doesn’t deliver, you’ll want to know where it didn’t perform and where future improvements can be made.

Remember the cheapest route is not necessarily the best route and can result in you throwing good money away which would be better utilised as part of a successful campaign which could be spread over time to make it more affordable and that will more than payback your investment.

Promises of ‘cheap advertising’ need to be treated with caution. Of course we all want best value but marketing and advertising needs to be viewed tactically and strategically, and not just a few cheap adverts, if it’s to have any long-term chance of success. The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ can often be true when it comes to marketing and advetising.

IMS are based in Ferndown and offer a free no obligation consultation for local businesses, to assess their needs and offer advice on how to achieve positive results through marketing and advertising. Call Jason Harris on 01202 611100

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