Advertising to Communicate with Customers


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Advertising is an effective method to spend money fast. Done well, it gives a positive return. Done poorly, it costs much more than money. But you can control advertising performance, to an extent, by properly setting advertising priorities.

Understanding your customers determines your success. Your first advertising priority is to know who your customer is: What are their responsibilities, experiences and priorities. Then you can tailor an appropriate message.
If you don’t know, find out what factors affect the way customers make decisions; what is important to them; what are their wants, needs and expectations when they are looking for what you are selling. Decide what results you want, and be more specific than “increased sales.”

The purpose of advertising is to help produce leads, prospects and customers. Advertising can create awareness. It can position products and services; identify probable new customers; encourage customers to take immediate action; and encourage customers to return.

The second priority is to know why you are advertising. Ask yourself: What do your customers need to know? That you exist? That you’ve changed? That you haven’t changed? That you’ve solved your problems? That you’ve solved their problems? And what do you want them to do about it?

Whatever results you want, specify them clearly. If you measure every advertising opportunity in terms of its contribution to the achievement of your results, choices become easier.

The third priority is to know what it will take to achieve your goals. An unknown company has no choice but to create a campaign to achieve marketplace awareness. A recognized company, even with a brand new product, can hopefully count on its name drawing attention to whatever it promotes.

Know what resources you have to invest in the form of money and time. In-house telesales resources change the cost of follow up. Customization of messages and materials can multiply cost. Your marketplace position also has its demands. Established companies using advertising to reinforce existing customer ties have vastly different spending patterns than the company introducing something new.

With so many variables, a budget target is critical in assembling the right mix of creative, production, logistics and media efforts. Make this careful budgeting of resources the fourth priority.

The fifth priority is to decide what it is you want the audience to conclude about your service. This is where you must know what your customer really buys from you. Remember what they’re buying is not usually the same as what you’re selling. And what they’re buying is the only thing that matters. What will using your shop do for the customer? How is it better than an alternative?

Mass media is just the ticket for sending your message to vast numbers of people at once. In-print media, magazine and newspaper readers enter that environment when they choose to. But if you need to involve sound and motion to make your point, then broadcast media—radio, television, and Internet—may be the better vehicle.

As a more focused effort, direct marketing—literally delivering your advertising message to specific individuals who are likely prospects—can be effective as well.

The sixth priority is to use the best people, whether in-house or outside. Let them evaluate creative strategies to communicate the needed messages; determine the most cost- and time-effective tactics to get that message through to the right people; perform the cost benefit analysis on print, broadcast and other media alternatives; establish the schedules and direct the budgets to most effectively complete the work. But, do not let them set their own priorities and messages. That should be based on your customer.

Priority number seven: Everyone answers to the ultimate priorities of customers and results. Don’t let them get off track due to a tangential “brilliant” idea or prejudice. Make them stick to the schedules and budgets you approved, and make sure that the final project says the right things, in the right manner and in the right place to get the right reaction from your customers.

Mitch Goozé is a partner with Customer Manufacturing Group, a marketing consulting company. He can be reached at 408-987-0140 or at mgooze@customermfg.com.