Manage episode 373279228 series 1082451
Marketing covers everything you do in your business that creates awareness, including advertising, brochures, competitions, trade shows, demonstrations, travel, direct mail, email campaigns, your website, and sponsorship. Let's narrow our focus to an integral part of Marketing - Advertising. Advertising is a massive industry with multiple mediums for your message to be heard or lost in translation. It might sound like a no-brainer, but before you start planning your advertising, you must consider what you are trying to achieve from your investment. Your ultimate objective likely is to build sales, but other things to consider are increasing market presence and building your brand.
Advertising can be used to:
- Establish a reputation as the market leader or industry expert – allowing you to win long-term contracts or even increase prices.
- Build brand awareness for a product to make it easier to sell and raise the profile of your other products.
- Change customer perceptions of your products and services to boost sales.
- Detail a specific, one-off message to your market by informing potential customers of a special offer or product component.
- Address your existing customers to increase your brand awareness – meaning they think of your business first when considering a product or service.
Identifying your target market
Before any advertising is written, you need to take the time to define your target market (if you haven't already). Knowing who you are trying to target will help you customize your marketing efforts to suit those people.
You should already know who is interested in your products or services, but the easiest way to clearly define your target market is to create an ideal customer profile.
How to create a customer profile:
- Try and create an ideal demographic for your target market. Think about the age, gender, marital status, and income of the person most likely to buy your product or use your services. If you are unsure, think about your biggest customers – is there anything they have in common, such as age or gender?
- Think about the geographical reach of your business – service-based businesses like yours have a limited market area. Think about your regular customers or clients that live within the region. Once you know your market area, you could research existing data or conduct some market research to find out the average age, income, and family status of people in your area.
Be careful not to make your target market too specific, as you may exclude many potential customers. For example, rather than targeting couples aged up to 30 years who own their first home, it might be better to target couples aged up to 40 years who are currently renting but are interested in purchasing a property.
You can learn a lot about your target market by looking at your competition – pay attention to where they advertise, how they present their advertising, and the tone they use in their written material. Subscribing to competitor newsletters or regularly checking their websites is a good way of keeping up-to-date from a distance.
Types of advertising
Knowing what type of advertising will appeal the most to your target market is the key to producing effective advertising.
Here are the most common types of advertising you can use to promote your construction business.
- Print advertising. Print advertising traditionally covers newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, and other printed media. Print advertising can be expensive, such as a feature page in a newspaper or a local magazine. More inexpensive options include community papers, classifieds, or delivered printed fliers.
- Internet advertising. Internet advertising includes online services such as YouTube, Facebook, Google, and Twitter but also includes banner ads and embedded video content. Internet advertising offers a range of options for different budgets, from pay-per-click services such as Google AdWords to home page coverage on a popular website.
- Outdoor or out-of-home advertising. Outdoor advertising covers a range of billboards, signs, or even event sponsorship. Other popular types of outdoor advertising include motor vehicles, such as advertisements on buses or cars. Some outdoor advertising, such as billboards, will require a permit, and most signs are subject to local laws and regulations that determine where they can be located.
- Broadcast advertising. Broadcast advertising traditionally includes television and radio but can also cover some Internet mediums such as YouTube, Vimeo, or even podcasts.
Appealing to your market
Now that you have identified your target market, the next step is to decide which forms of advertising will give you the best return on your investment.
This decision will be based on the characteristics of your target market, such as:
- Interests or hobbies
Think about how your service fits your target market's lifestyle – will they have enough time to wait for a renovation project to be done, or are they too busy? Also, consider what features of your product or service will be most appealing to them, such as quality, price, and after-sales support.
You should now have a good idea of which features of your products or services you should pay the most attention to in your advertising material.
Future-proofing your advertising
To get the most out of your investment, make sure you:
- Listen to any customer feedback about your advertising.
- Are prepared to amend your advertising efforts if they aren't working.
- Observe your competitors' advertising efforts and pick up on any new trends or tools you can use.
- Ask another business owner or professional for advice if you doubt advertising material content, design, or tone.
- Are aware of laws or regulations about where you can advertise and the content of your messages.
- Feed your advertising results back into your marketing or business plan.
No-idea vs. Objective and Task Method
I see many construction businesses that are just too busy during certain times of the year to think of advertising, and if they did, it would be a waste as they would not be able to handle the work anyway. Suddenly, however, sales fall (perhaps due to seasonality), and then the business starts marketing. However, this could be a waste of money as you're often marketing at the wrong time or advertising to get instant sales, which is unlikely. So the problem is that the marketing money is spent during slow times (this hurts) and is allocated to fix a problem instead of creating new opportunities.
What to do? At the start of the year, select the targets you'll aim at over the next 12 months. Work out what you want from each of these targets (such as 20 new clients, or each existing customer to spend another $100 in your plumbing business, or an increase in the average sale). Then expressly state what you want to do to achieve this, estimating how much it will cost (common sense will give you guidelines, for example, a small service-based business will not be spending $100,000 on TV advertising).
"Early to bed, early to rise, know your numbers, and advertise."
Always have a method of monitoring if your advertising is working or not—otherwise, you'll fall into the 'no idea' category that far too many small business owners belong to. You can't refine and improve your marketing spending without measuring the results.
About The Author:
Sharie DeHart, QPA, co-founded Business Consulting And Accounting (Fast Easy Accounting) in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations and offers insights on managing the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or email@example.com