Category Archives: Marketing 101

Marketing 101: Radio

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

Radio

Owning and operating a radio station with competition from CDs, iPods, DVRs and other devices that deliver similar programming are a true challenge.  I know, because for 20 years, I had the good fortune to be the program director and/or on-air talent at several radio stations within the Pittsburgh market.

Radio stations operate not as jukeboxes or newsrooms, but as businesses. They are profit centers for the companies that own them. Radio stations have multiple means of generating revenue, which out of necessity may take precedence over your favorite song or a juicy talk show spat! The largest of these means are commercials. Stations sell airtime to advertisers as a way of increasing the merchant’s bottom line.

As the commercial repetition heard on most stations indicates, radio works really well. At Yearick-Millea, we purchase radio air-time for some of our clients, and we retain media buyers whose specialty is the proper use and budgeting of radio advertising. It really works!

But if you want music rather than commercials from your station, know that the music is actually sponsored by the advertisements.  How’s that for some cruel irony?

If too many listeners tune to an alternate radio station, the remaining audience may influence lower ratings for the station, which over time, translates to a loss of revenue. So, how does a radio station build a strategy for battling today’s fierce competition for attracting and holding an audience?  Many times, the station will change its format — rock to country, or oldies to news/talk — to take-on a new brand/identity.

It may lure new on-air talent or reporters to expand local news coverage.  If the dollars are available, a radio station may even stage events where listening to the station is required — a guaranteed method of boosting both ratings and revenue. Even multimedia ad campaigns are often utilized in promoting a station’s awareness.

Unfortunately, all of these actions do not automatically result in more people listening and continuing to listen to a particular radio station. But a loyal audience is best maintained through a consistent format, coupled with personalities who nurture the on-air product.

A radio station‘s success (high ratings/revenue) will only be realized if it learns to “listen” to its audience – and not just the other-way-round.

Marketing 101: Print Ads

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

You can convey countless messages via a print ad. Whether it’s for your own business, a valuable client or maybe a non-profit entity – the print ad that you’ve created should accurately deliver your intended message to the reader. What can you do to increase your odds of success? Here are four key elements that should guide the construction of your layout to obtain maximum impact:

COPY:  Focus on the primary message for the print ad; don’t allow words to get in the way of the message; once the first draft is complete – revise it – and then revise it again. Always be on the lookout for the best method of stating what you want the reader to learn. Many times – the fewer words – the better.

IMAGERY: Be certain the photographs and images that you plan to include in the print ad actually complement and/or interact with the subject matter. You are attempting to develop and present a single thought to help sell a product – a company – or yourself. If the imagery looks as though it doesn’t belong, it probably does not, so go back to the drawing board.

COLORS:  This step is easy. As with imagery, all colors should interact pleasantly with the message, any logos – and above all – the boundaries of good taste. Remember that if the colors that appear in your ad are overpowering – it’s reasonable to assume that your message will also be “held hostage” and not be noticed by your audience.

DESIGN: If your ad was a map – you’d want to find your destination ASAP. Well, it’s the same idea when creating an ad design. Ideally, you want the reader’s eyes to immediately locate a spot on the page that carries the ad’s intent (buy, travel, eat, refinance – whatever) – and then an appropriate layout which takes the reader virtually everywhere within the page to grasp and appreciate all of the ad’s carefully-crafted content.

These four steps can make the difference between achieving results – or wasting valuable time and money.

Marketing 101: Social Media

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

These days, it’s nearly impossible to get on Facebook or Twitter without seeing a brand you recognize. Everyone, from the mom and pop shop where you buy your lunch to the big brands we all know and love, is tackling social media in an effort to engage with customers and drive social-media-studentsnew business.

Unfortunately, many seem to think that opening a Facebook page and posting a few status updates are enough to make their efforts successful – As many brands have learned; social media marketing is not that easy. Here are the five most basic things every brand should consider before diving head first into social media:

  1. Choose your channels: You don’t need to open accounts on every social media platform available. Decide what your goals are and identify your target audience – Once you’ve established those, you can determine which platform (or platforms) is going to best help you reach them.
  2. Outline a strategy: How will you mix up your content? How often will you post? Will you share photos, videos or other images? How will you respond to audience members? Make these strategic decisions up front and reevaluate as your campaign progresses. Think of your social media plan as a living thing – It needs to be nurtured and updated as trends, platforms and goals change.
  3. Share and interact: The key word in social media is social. You should be engaging in conversations with audience members and sharing content that encourages them to interact with you. You want to foster relationships with your audience, not bore them to death with constant, canned marketing messages.
  4. Give up control: Despite your best efforts, it may be impossible to avoid disgruntled customers or competitors speaking negatively about your brand. Unfortunately, you can’t control what others say. What you can do is respond kindly to negative posts and share information that will allow others to make their own decisions about your brand.
  5. Keep learning: Social media is constantly changing. If you stay active, you’ll be able to pick up on changes as they occur and adjust your strategy to those changes. You can also stay on top of platform updates and other social media trends by following online publications like Mashable.

Social media is a great way to help spread your brand’s message, engage with your audience and drive new business. But before you can do these things, it’s imperative that you have a plan in place. Like any marketing initiative, social media is not something to be taken lightly – And it’s not for everyone. If you’re interested in exploring your social media marketing options or launching a social media campaign of your own, give us a call.

Marketing 101: Outdoor Advertising

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

Outdoor advertising has long been an affordable means of “getting the word out.”

Since the early days of civilization, society has resorted to signs, placards and posters to inform the general public about a person, place or event. For example, historians have been able to unearth advertising artifacts announcing events at Rome’s Coliseum, although we hesitate to conjure-up an appropriate image for that particular venue.

Click for image source

Click for image source

Fortunately for today’s businesses, the use, coverage, and sophistication of outdoor marketing has made it much easier to include this media in a strategic advertising plan. A variety of outdoor locations and sizes are available – many along well-traveled highways and heavily populated areas – thereby exposing the message to the largest possible audience. Not only can these displays be produced on resilient, weather-resistant poster paper, but many vendors now offer the choice of reusable vinyl-wrap presentations – or brilliant illuminated digital displays – which can be customized daily with just the “click of a mouse.”

Speaking from first-hand experience, outdoor advertising is usually a segment of a total marketing package. However, depending on the message, targeting motorists, office workers, and shoppers on a monthly basis can often be accomplished through a well-designed, exclusive outdoor campaign.

One note of caution: plan your use of outdoor far in advance. There are many companies/agencies who are also vying for the best outdoor display locations and prices.

Marketing 101: Crisis Management

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.
picture_crisis_management

Click for image source.

No one wants to anticipate the “what-if,” but in the business world, crisis communication is an integral part of an overall public relations plan and strategy. A company’s reputation could be on the line, and how a company formulates a proactive response greatly impacts that reputation. In the unfortunate event of a crisis, a prompt and targeted plan of action is essential to diffusing the crisis, rather than trying to cover up the crisis or even worse, denying responsibility of the situation.

It’s important to have a plan in place that includes numerous types of scenarios, messaging and target audiences. The plan should be revisited regularly to make sure it is up to date, and staff should be fully aware of the plan (and trained). This is even more important now that social media has added a whole new dimension to the matter. So, when building a crisis communications plan for your company, consider the following response tips for all media – traditional, broadcast and social:

  • Be Prompt: How long it takes for a company to formulate a response is critical. By addressing any issues or complications quickly, even before a story breaks, a company is showing that they assume responsibility. One of the first things that a customer may do is to visit a company website or blog. Make facts of the situation readily available to your customers, particularly on the main page. Also, consider delegating responsibility to a staff member to monitor social media sites for customer questions and feedback.
  • Be Open and Compassionate: No matter the situation, a company should provide a clear and consistent message across all channels, articulating what happened and explaining what solution is in place. It’s best to be honest about all facts related to the situation so that a mutual trust can remain. Remaining visible to your audiences will strengthen the discussion and minimize speculation.
  • Be Flexible: The situation may not occur exactly as anticipated. While monitoring and measuring the opinions of your company’s targeted audiences, be able to adjust your crisis plans accordingly.

Is your company prepared for a potential crisis? Take some time before the end of 2013 to review your crisis communications plan. It can only benefit the long term future of your company.

Marketing 101: Search Engine Optimization

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different marketing mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

So you’ve developed a website filled with information on your product or service. Good job. Now what?

Like most people, you’ve probably searched for your product using a search engine. Did your website show up as one of the first results, or are you still clicking on “Next?”

SEO

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing use a variety of factors to determine where your website ranks in search results. While it may seem overwhelming to think about, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not that scary. Here are four SEO strategies that you should work on with your website administrator or developer.

1.      Keywords: One of the easiest ways to get your website noticed is to use keywords that are relevant to your product or service. Once you determine what keywords to use, place them in each page on your website. Keywords should be used in page titles, headings, content and URLs. Most search engines use software programs called spiders to analyze webpages. These creepy crawlers pick up on the use of a keyword and rank the page accordingly. However, avoid littering a page with a keyword. Look at how many times I’ve written “keyword” in this paragraph. Annoying, right? The spiders may mark the page as spam, which would have a negative effect on the page’s ranking.

2.      Titles: Titles appear in the upper left-hand portion of your browser window. Look at this page, its title reads “Marketing 101: Search Engine Optimization.”  Each page on your website should have a different title that is descriptive of the content found on it. Be sure to use keywords in the title and keep them brief (less than 60 characters).

3.      Content: The rule of thumb is to keep text brief. Nothing is more intimidating and less appealing than staring at a wall of text—at least to me. Try breaking up text with photos and other images. Search engine crawlers are beginning to use media files as part of their algorithms. Nowadays, when you upload a video to a website, you can input keywords as “tags” that will help users discover your content and improve your page’s ranking.

4.      Inbound Links: Another important factor that improves your website’s ranking is how many other websites are linking to your site. When there are inbound links, the search engine sees your site as a go-to resource for information on a topic. Sources for these inbound links could include social media, blogs, articles, and press releases.

Whether you’re updating your existing website or developing a new one, make sure SEO is part of the planning process.

Marketing 101: Television Advertising

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different marketing mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

Did you know: the average American watches more than 4 hours of television each day? By age 65, most of us will have watched nine years’ worth of television. Nine years. So what does this mean for marketers? Simply, you can’t leave television out of your marketing mix.

Thanks, in part, to the ever-changing landscape of technology, television advertising has become an affordable medium for many small-to-mid sized businesses – Something that, a generation ago, seemed unfathomable. With hundreds of cable and broadcast channels to choose from, you’re sure to find a mix that will reach your customers.

Before embarking on a television advertising campaign, however, there are several things you’ll need to consider:

  • Is your product visually appealing? Products like jewelry, cars and “you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” products fare best on television simply because they’re interesting to look at.
  • Who is your target customer? With so many options available on television today, it’s important to drill-down to just who your customer is – If you’re hawking the latest teen shoe craze, it would benefit you to focus on those networks teens actually watch.
  • Where is your audience? Options like national networks, local broadcast and independent networks that reach national, local and regional audiences, give you the ability to speak directly to the customers who live where your product or service is available.
  • Does timing matter? If your product is seasonal (like ski equipment or patio furniture), identify the times of year when you want to focus on advertising. By doing this in advance, you can lock in your placements and, sometimes, even secure lower rates.

Once considered out of reach for many smaller companies, the addition of numerous networks and seemingly endless options has helped make television a realistic option for many businesses. Television is a great way to capture, and hold, your audience’s attention and, if you can make it work within your budget, can be a great tool in your marketing efforts.

A Case for Digital Advertising

As someone one who has experienced, and even used, many forms of advertising during my marketing career, I find that the current “Digital Age” offers its own unique forms of creativity and message dissemination and, in my opinion, can often achieve similar, effective results.

In order to better explain my premise, let’s use an example of marketing automobiles today. Since cars are viewed as essential components of the American lifestyle and appeal to a wide range of customers, most car manufacturers employ traditional advertising (radio, TV, newspaper, outdoor) to secure the attention of listeners and viewers who are accustomed to relying on traditional messaging for obtaining information and reinforcing buying habits.

However, to reach the core of today’s millennials, with their laptops, smart phones, iPads and other instant-access devices, the savvy advertiser should leave a portion of their marketing budget dedicated to leveraging these digital marvels and place their messages on what has become the optimum method of reaching-out to younger patrons and shoppers.  Digital advertising is not coming soon – it’s already here!