Part 2

This article is a continuation of a discussion started here.

Is that your plan to win?

You have a tremendous amount of resources tied up into your business. The Kauffmann Foundation estimates that it costs around $30,000 to start a traditional small business. Clearly this number is a grossly inaccurate estimate. Home based businesses can be started for much less and manufacturing businesses will certainly cost much more.

Perhaps more valuable than money is the human element that has been sacrificed to get your business of the ground. If you’ve been in business for a while, you know how many hours you have invested for free in your business. As if the sacrifices you and your family made aren’t enough, you have employees who are depending on the success of your business for their own personal financial stability.

Think of the sacrifices you have made for your business.

  • Sleep
  • Money
  • Family time
  • Hours of worry

After investing so much in starting and operating your business, is your advertising and marketing plan really summarized by those a vague plans of action?  

The reason most of your advertising dollars are being wasted is because you are throwing money around at every advertising outlet and hoping for more sales.

You are essentially shouting into a crowd of people and hoping that one of them cares about what you have to say. You know your customer is out there — somewhere — they just need to hear about you. It is the equivalent of throwing your dice into roulette wheel and hoping it lands on black.  That isn’t marketing, it’s gambling.

A typical Advertising Campaign (And nearly a complete waste of money)

Here is a typical example of an advertising campaign — one that you may well see yourself in  — which is (nearly) a complete waste of money:

CLIENT:  A Chiropractic Clinic

REASON FOR ADVERTISING:  The clinic has hired an additional doctor and wishes to “get the word out”.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Everyone

METHODS OF ADVERTISING: Local radio commercials, Newspaper print ads, postcard campaign to existing customers, updating the website, roadside signs placed in the vicinity of the clinic.

BUDGET:  $2,000  (Approx)

Breaking It Down

The flaws in the typical advertising campaign we just described (and most other advertising campaigns) are fundamental and result a monumental waste of money.

There are two core flaws in this campaign. Let’s break them each down.

Fundamental Flaw #1 – The Audience

In our example, the effort and expense of radio broadcasts, newspaper and roadside signs have the equivalent effectiveness of shouting into a crowd and hoping someone in that crowd cares enough about your message to call your the office and make an appointment. It is the equivalent of shooting blindly into the forest and hoping that you hit your prey. It is an incredible waste of energy and resources.

A much more effective and fiscally responsible plan is to set your sights on exactly the target you want to hit and fire a direct shot. One target. One shot. A direct hit.

To accomplish this a business owner must know their customer. It is absolutely critical for a business owner to understand exactly who the customer is. This also includes knowing who your potential customer is.

For the most part, mass media such as radio, TV and newspapers would be completely ineffective for this advertising campaign. This is true primarily because of their very nature:  They reach the masses.

In our example campaign, we need to reach a very specific group of people. We do not need to reach a mass audience. We need to reach people who share many (if not all) of these qualities:

  • Are interested enough in our practice to care about our new doctor
  • Live within a certain radius from our clinic
  • Understand the importance of chiropractic care
  • Believe that our clinic has the ability to provide them with care
  • Wish to see a chiropractor or are on the fence about seeing one

Think about the effectiveness of an advertising campaign that could talk directly to that person!  Which is of these sounds like a better plan?

  1. Shout your message into a crowd of random strangers
  2. Tell someone who is interested in your clinic, lives within a reasonable distance and seeks qualified chiropractic care your message.

While the second is the obvious choice, this exercise has revealed the second fundamental flaw in our campaign:  The message.

Fundamental Flaw #2 – The Message

In this exercise, the advertiser wishes to “get the word out” about the new practitioner. Sure, as a business owner, you’re excited about it. The whole clinic is buzzing with excitement. But, outside of the staff…who cares?

If your local automotive service center held a big advertising campaign because it hired a new lube tech most of the world would answer with a resounding “who cares!”

People are selfish. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is. If there isn’t some sort of incentive for them to respond, they won’t. In every message you communicate to your prospect, tell them what their incentive is. What’s in it for them?  

If this were my client, I would suggest telling my audience that by adding the additional doctor, we have opened up a significant number of appointment opportunities on our calendar. To fill the appointment book we will cover the insurance co-pay (up to a certain dollar amount) for the first scheduled  appointment for any new customer who schedules an appointment within the next 2 weeks.

Now the prospective customer cares!

This article continues with a revised advertising plan here.