September 24, 2009

Radio Advertising states, Along with print and TV, radio is one of the most popular forms of conventional, "offline" advertising. It can also be one of the most effective. This is partially because radio is oriented around formats, which gives business owners a big advantage in targeting audiences vs. print or TV.

What's a format? Think "classic rock" on the FM band and "talk radio" on the AM stations. Odds are your target market is predominantly tuned into one or two specific stations in your metro area. If you can discover which stations those are, you may have found the sweet spot in your marketing.

1. Your target market: Don't simply choose a station because it's the one you listen to. Choose the one your customers prefer.

2. Costs: There are two costs you'll incur when you advertise on the radio. The first is airtime--the time unit(s) your commercials are on air, typically broken down into 30-second, 60-second or 120-second segments (or spots), depending on the station.

3. Schedule: One is "run of station," or ROS. This means the station will decide when your commercials air as well as the specific time of the day that each commercial will be played. The best way to target is to find out which are the highest quarter-hour listening shares for your target demographic. That way, you are paying for your commercials when the chances are good your target audience is actually listening.

4. The economy of words: s a general rule, 65 to 85 words is the limit for a 30-second commercial. However, be aware that this can vary depending on how many sound effects you use. Also keep in mind that your copy block for a 60-second spot will generally only be 30 to 45 seconds, as you will want at least 10 to 15 seconds at the end to include a call to action, phone number, Yellow Pages mention or web address.

5. Choosing the right sounds. If your want your commercial to stand out from the rest, you need to consider some additional factors regarding voice-overs and sound effects. You may be tempted to voice the commercial, but think again--unless you have a really good voice for radio.

Generally speaking, radio's ability to target an audience and offer repetition makes it a very effective advertising medium. In fact, some of the most effective campaigns in business history have been "radio-only" ad campaigns.

September 22, 2009

CEO back in the mail room

CNN states, "Small businesses have shed an estimated 1.6 million jobs this year. That leaves the remaining staffers to pick up the workload left behind -- and even bosses are pitching in. With their employee rosters cut to the bone, business owners are going back to the basics, re-learning to do tasks they may not have handled in years."

When small businesses are started, business owners handle everything from emptying the trash to ordering the paper. As the business grows owners and mangers focus on the overall well being of the company but this does not mean they should only know how to operate their business on paper; in fact business owners and mangers need to know how to physically run their business, stepping in from time to time. "In a small business -- if the business is a successful business -- you probably always have the manager rolling up their sleeves."

September 17, 2009

Business Travel

Due to the current economy slump many businesses, especially small businesses, have drastically cut down on Business Travel. A recent study by Oxford Economics, "found a link between travel and corporate profitability. Each dollar spent on travel by a U.S. company can generate an average $3.80 in profit and $12.50 in increased revenue."

Next time you are debating visiting a current client or a potential client remember, "cuts in business travel that would generally be (considered) penny-wise and pound-foolish."

September 16, 2009

Is Your Advertising Working?

More than half the advertising most businesses are participating in do not register with the end consumer. Below are seven reasons why Steve McKee, from BusinessWeek believes this is true:
1. It's boring. Yep, boring. Why do we watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online? Three reasons: information, entertainment, and engagement.Ads that fail to offer at least two of these three benefits flop.

2. It's boorish. You shouldn't think of your advertising as being about your brand, you should think of it as an extension of your brand (see "A Practical Guide to Branding"). If it's loud, annoying, insulting, offensive, or self-centered, people will think the same of your products or services (see "The Cocktail Party Test for Advertising"). Remember the first sentence in the best-selling hardback book in U.S. history, The Purpose Driven Life: "It's not about you."

3. It's safe. The first time I saw a Ford Taurus (F), I took note, and I suspect you did as well. So did a lot of other people, and the Taurus went on to become the best-selling car in America.

4. It's trying to do too much. As the poll results above demonstrated, most people don't engage with most ads. And even when they do, for how long do they pay attention? Thirty seconds? Ten? Five? The best an ad can do is communicate one single, compelling idea, and in the age of the Internet—when people know they can go online to get all the additional information they need—it's crazy to ask an ad to do more than that. Just because you have a lot to say doesn't mean your audience will sit still and pay attention.

5. It hasn't been given time. You can't rush bread out of the oven. You can't hurry a seedling out of the ground. All you can do is prepare the ingredients properly, tend the garden with care, and wait for the loaf to rise and sprouts to appear. The same is true of advertising.

6. You like it. O.K., this one may sting a bit, but you are not the best judge of your own advertising. You can't be, because you simply know too much about your brand and have too much affection for it to remain objective.

7. It's not an advertising problem. A common mistake many companies make is trying to use advertising to fix another problem. It may be faulty or outdated product design, an uncompetitive cost structure, customer service letdowns, or any number of other things. It's not as if they do so intentionally; it's just that it's a whole lot easier to put on a new coat of paint than it is to fix the foundation that's causing the drywall to crack. No company executes flawlessly, but until you can maintain a solid track record of excellence, spend your money on internal improvements rather than advertising. Paint may mask the problem for a short time, but soon new cracks will begin to appear.

Why not take a few minutes today and evaluate your advertising campaign and see where there is room for improvement.

August 20, 2009

Business Tools

Thinking for buying a business? Why not start your own? If you think it will be too expensive to "hit the ground running", thing again. Emily Schmitt from BusinessWeek "discusses his favorites for those looking to start a business on the cheap." From preparing business plans to invoicing Emily has you covered!

August 17, 2009

Industrial Development Bonds

BusinessWeek says, "Few entrepreneurs consider bonds when they need major long-term financing. But by using a little-known set-aside in the public finance world called an industrial development bond, or IDB, small companies with strong track records can gain access to as much as $10 million with rates as low as 3%—similar to what large corporations get in the commercial paper market. (Up-front fees range from $70,000 to $200,000, but total costs are still about 20% to 30% less than conventional bank loans.) And while IDBs were designed to be used specifically by small manufacturers, the definition of "manufacturer" may surprise you, as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act expanded it to include technology companies that manufacture software or other intellectual assets."

Since now is the time to start a business, why not consider IDBs instead of a loan?

August 13, 2009

Customer Service

Customer Service is one of the most important aspects of a businesses, yet it receives the least amount of attention. According to Jay Goltz, owner of a small business in Chicago, we need to S.A.V.E. customer service. Sympathies, Act, Vindicate, and Eat. Follow Jay's advice you are sure to send your customers away happy.