6 Easy Ways to Waste Your Money On Advertising

April 27, 2011

So much advice on the internet on how to advertise. It is almost annoying if you ask me. Everyone claims that they know where you need to put your money.

How about saving some money for once?

Consider:

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned.

How about sharing a few ideas on how you can quickly waste your money?

1. Pay someone a fee to build a website that is intended to drive traffic to your phone or email without focusing on writing fresh new content for readers and search engine web crawlers.

2. Pay someone to advertise you on Google AdWords and don’t ask them how much of your hard-earned money they are spending on clicks vs management fees.

3.  Advertise where your competition advertises, because your competition seems to generate business. (this is a common tactic for sales reps to convince you that advertising with them is a great investment.)

4. Advertise without a logo or brand. Considering that most advertising reaches folks in all areas of the buying process, from awareness to intent, it only makes sense to have a professional logo and brand tagline in your ad messages or pages. A professional look to your small business will go a long way to creating trust with your potential customers.

5. Relying strictly on “outbound marketing” vs a comprehensive approach to marketing that includes both outbound and inbound marketing methods.

“Old Marketing” methods include:

  • Outside sales
  • Telemarketing
  • Tradeshows
  • Print Advertising
  • Direct mail/email

“New Marketing” methods include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising
  • Blogging
  • Content Marketing and Strategy
  • Conversion Science
  • Analytics
  • Video Marketing

6.  Spend your advertising dollars on advertising to gain traffic or generate leads, then fail to focus on conversions. For every $100 spent on advertising, only $8 is spend on converting traffic and leads to customers. I have always said:

“If you focus on converting people to customers, you don’t have to spend money finding more people to convert.”

If I were a pastor at a church and knew someone who is currently handling  the challenges of a life changing and traumatic event, I would share with this person how my religion can help them deal with the problem, avoid it in the future, and learn from the experience. Another option is to tell them about my ministry and why I we are so great. I am sure that by explaining how we can help this person in his or her unique situation with our services we would be much more successful at converting them than by simply talking about myself. Do they really care that much about me? Or is the real question, “How can WE help you?

The most common mistakes in advertising are caused by poor planning, horrible advice, or simply seizing an opportunity just because it happens to present itself. When the only options you have are those being forced upon you by good timing, you are much more likely to make a decision based on reaction vs thoughtful consideration that includes weighing the options. One thing to consider is how much money is required or how long you must invest in order to be successful. Advertising investments, like other forms of investing, have both short and long-term rewards.


“Gravity Doesn’t Suck Customers Down the Internet Funnel”

March 17, 2011

According to Wikipedia:  sales process, also known as a sales tunnel or a sales funnel is a systematic approach to selling a product or service

image

One of the great things about being involved in an industry group or association is the opportunity to learn new ways of saying some of the same things.  Ask any expert and they will tell you that they didn’t become an expert overnight and most likely paid a hefty price to be one. Time is money. Research only gets you so far. Listening to those that have “been there, done that” puts a big shortcut in the learning curve. Learning from mistakes helps take you the rest of the way.

In December 2009, I became a Board of Directors Member of the first local professional search engine marketing association, the Dallas / Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association or www.DFWSEM.org.  DFWSEM was founded by a group of blackhat SEOs back around 2001. Bill Hartzer, who I tremendously respect as an authority in search marketing, was one of the original founding members of DFWSEM. DFWSEM is the largest local meetup for search professionals in the country.  We meet once a month in Dallas to share insights, tips, tricks, and tools related to all things SEO, PPC, and Social Media.

I have invited many clients to attend these meetings and have found that not only do many learn more about what I do for them (this works so much better than those tacky one call closes folks!), some of my clients have actually joined the association and attend regularly.

Tonight was one of those nights. It just clicked. While on a panel discussion of the lessons from PubCon Austin 2011 and SMX West, two of the biggest conferences for search geeks, Tony Wright, the witty CEO of WrightIMC, a reputable reputation management and SEO firm, said something that will forever stick with me:

“Gravity doesn’t work in the sales funnel”

He was referring back to a comment from a PubCon keynote speaker who stated that if you have an authoritative site with great content you won’t need to pay for advertising. Sorta like Amazon or Wikipedia, right? Tony said that this really is more of a fallacy in theory. Those with strong brands become strong from authoritative content and paid promotion.

Moving a potential customer from research and awareness to buying intent doesn’t just happen. As marketers, we must make it happen. Moving people from one step in the buying process to another requires many different types of marketing methodologies, such as conversion optimization and testing, unique value propositions, identifying key differentiators, and incorporating solid calls to action. Building trust is also important. Sharing features and benefits also helps move them down the funnel.

Lastly, you must advertise. Advertising can be both creative (for building your brand) and directional (helping people find your brand.) Advertising is what brings people to your funnel. Gravity pulls us all down, but not down the funnel. That takes expert strategy and creativity.

Sorry to contradict the great lyrics of John Mayer, but gravity isn’t always working against us. Sometimes it doesn’t bring us down. Especially when it pertains to the buying process, contrary to what most business owners and even some experts seem to think.

Another great quote from PubCon:

“$92 out of every $100 invested in marketing goes to advertising. Only $8 is spent on making ads convert.”


Crony Capitalism vs Main Street Capitalism, Duopolies of Economics and the future of Yellow Pages Advertising.

November 17, 2009

Our American economy, politics, and consumer spending market have all become a duopoly.

A true duopoly is a specific type of oligopoly where only two producers exist in one market. In reality, this definition is generally used where only two firms have dominant control over a market.

The most commonly cited duopoly is that between Visa and MasterCard, who between them control a large proportion of the electronic payment processing market. In 2000 they were the defendants in a US Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit.[1][2] An appeal was upheld in 2004.[3]

Examples where two companies control a large proportion of a market are:

What is most common in all these examples is the fear of competition by the capitalists at the top of these companies.  Regular Americans are not afraid of competition. Competition creates better jobs, better, economics, and better political policy. Competition creates innovation. Google is essentially afraid of it’s competition from Microsoft, Yahoo, and the next greatest internet fad or brand. It is what keeps Google on it’s toes and innovating.

What has contributed to making the above companies successful is creating a duopoly. Duopolies can be very profitable for category leaders. The only thing better for a large company is a monopoly. Take a moment and think of the yellow page advertising industry. For many years the local phone company was the only game in town for local advertisers to reach out to local consumers, essentially a monopoly. In 1984 the AT&T Telephone company was broken up. This essentially created healthy competition in an industry that really did not have competition. It was good for consumers since very few options existed at the time other than printed yellow page phone books, thus creating a duopoly.

Fast forward to the Telecom Act of 1996: It opened up competition and gave consumers more choice. Over the next few years  we saw an increased amount of competition among incumbant and CLEC phone companies in the yellow page advertising industry. No longer did the “phone companies” have a duopoly on the yellow page market. GTE Yellow Pages competed with Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages in the Dallas area market. Then all of a sudden we  saw a few independent phone books pop-up (mostly due to employees of the phone companies leaving and starting yellow page publishing companies with investors who saw the huge profit margins in yellow page advertising sales) over the next few years.

So what really happened to the yellow pages? The birth of the INTERNET. Google. Yahoo. MSN. etc., but most of all……” a huge change in the manner in which consumers find information.” Consider this, the internet has only been around for “Local Search” online since about 1999-2000, that is  just about four years post telecom deregulation.  I can tell you that from 2002-2009 the industry has done very little to compete with Google. While losing business to other forms of advertising media (such as Google and direct mail growth.)

The Yellow Page Duopoly in Media is Over

I witnessed the following questionable practices by executives of major yellow page publishers in order to create new revenues:

  • Dave Bethea at Idearc

and last but not least, what I witnessed first hand:

  • Sporting and Concert Tickets to friends and family vs Clients

Competition is good for all businesses (and in politics.) Competition creates innovation. Competition always offers a better value to consumers in the long run. Competition is bad for Crony Capitalists. Competition could have been good for the yellow pages, but since the Industry apparently disregards the feelings of its end-users by inundating homeowners with yellow page waste, It will eventually become a smaller factor in Local Search. Local search online will continue to outpace printed yellow pages. This is a FACT. The problem for Yellow Pages publishers is that they are not Google. They are not Yahoo. They are not MSN. They are FAR from innovative. They don’t ask the right questions. They do not care about the opinions of those that sale to clients. I was told this first hand.

I would love to conduct a poll among yellow page advertising sales reps about the usage of yellow pages. The company never asked for the information the entire time I was an employee? Why you ask? They don’t want me or 80% of the other 6,000 employees to let them know that we do not use the phone book. This is a fact. I have discussed this very subject with folks in the office while at Idearc Media in Dallas Tx.

Now there is the possibility that I am wrong. Considering that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has always been the #1 Market for Yellow Pages in the country, I have a feeling that I am correct on my opinions. After almost 10 years at Verizon/Idearc I have come to realize that my employers did not value my opinion or the opinion of sales. Chalk it up to crony capitalism!

Google is currently still a Monopoly in local Search

By the way, be sure to check out the national CMR agency TMP., the largest client for yellow pages companies in the country, on what is happening with phone book usage, advertising rates, and the true value of print yellow pages. You can follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TMPDM. They are doing a great job of distributing “syndicated” research on the trends of Local Search Marketing. Don’t ever rely on the statistics from the industry. Don’t ever trust a “sales rep” who is not accountable for achieving your results.

So what is the real future?

Cheers,

Mike Stewart

POST SCRIPT:

Great video (very long…….) on Duopoly, Capitalism, and Politics…….


Google Voice + Google Local Listing Ads = The perfect local advertising combination for Dallas Small Businesses

October 29, 2009

Introducing Google VoiceGoogle Voice call blocking limited, company says only 100 phone numbers do not have call connectivity.

As I said in my previous post about the impact of Google’s latest move into the business telephone business. I believe that Google Voice will be a great source of call tracking in the future if they allow you to purchase additional phone numbers. I am hoping that they incorporate this in the Local Listing Ads they are testing in a San Diego and San Fransisco.

I also think it would be great if Google offered some sort of phone number search in the near future as well as a “listed number title option” that can be indexed in Google Local Listings and Ads. This would be a very powerful strategy to dominate the local search market and keep up with Search at the same time.

Easy sales pitch for Google and a much harder one for resellers such as Idearc Media (Superpages.com), AT&T YellowPages.com, ReachLocal.com, Yodle.com and other big corporate resellers in my opinion. I am anxious to see what takes place in the next 12 months! Google is getting very aggressive with rolling out offering that help local SMB’s…… my future clients will rejoice!

Here is the preview for the Local Listing Ads.

Now available in San Francisco and San Diego, Listing Ads in Local Business Center allows business owners to easily advertise locally on Google. The first 30 days are free, and there’s no work after you set up your account. Visit google.com/lbc to get started
10 Steps to Help Your Dallas Area Business Survive & Thrive During the Economic Recession

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