One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make in their marketing is to copy the way big businesses advertise. I remember when I started my first business at 17 – the part I was most excited about was coming up with the logo, the tagline and the “brand” of my business, thinking that was what was going to get me sales.
I figured that if I built enough brand awareness in my market then people would be persuaded to purchase my products when they were ready to buy. After all, that’s how Nike, Coca Cola, Farmers Insurance, and Wal-Mart advertised…
There was just one small problem with my grand plan. The difference between these big guys and my small business was…a couple of (hundred) million dollars in advertising budget!
In my experience, copying big business brand advertising is the #1 reason so many small businesses end up going belly up. Not only do small businesses not have the marketing budget to build brand, but the marketing agenda of a small business owner is far different than that of a big business owner.
Here’s the marketing & advertising agenda that most big businesses follow:
- Appease the Board of Directors
- Look good to Wall Street
- Look good in the media
- Build brand
- Intimidate the competition
- Win some advertising awards
- Sell something
As a small business, your marketing and advertising agenda is much more simple:
- Sell something. NOW.
The whole point of spending money on marketing is to make money. Ideally for every dollar you spend on your marketing you want at least two dollars back.
If you do brand advertising you have no way to measure if your advertising is effective. You hope it’s effective, you pray it’ll bring you sales, but ultimately, it’s a wild stab in the dark because you really don’t know which advertising is really bringing in customers.
Using guesswork for your marketing is no way to run a business.
You need to scrap brand advertising (I also call it traditional advertising) for good. Instead you need to get your business on a strict diet of direct response advertising.
Building brand should be a nice by-product of making sales – it should never be the objective of your marketing. Making sales is.
What is direct response advertising?
In its simplest form, direct response advertising is advertising that ALWAYS contains a special offer with a deadline. It’s advertising that has the objective of motivating prospects to take action immediately so you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was. You can then tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork.
The best book I’ve found on direct response advertising is: No BS Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy. I highly recommend you grab a copy and immerse yourself in it. It’s an easy and entertaining read and will be worth many, many thousands of dollars to your business.
So how can you shift from traditional, brand based advertising to direct response advertising?
At the very minimum, include an irresistible offer to your prospects, impose a deadline for them to respond, and tell them clearly how to respond (e.g. To order your copy just call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx). Make sure NO advertising leaves your office without containing these three essential ingredients.
In the next post I’ll be giving you a laundry “checklist” of the other essential ingredients your direct response marketing must contain for maximum effectiveness. But by adding an irresistible offer, a deadline, and clear instructions on how to respond to all of your marketing – you’ll be off to a great start!