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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stretch your advertising investment with a “value add”

A special thanks to guest blogger Mary Ann Grooms for this post.

As a media buyer I’m often asked, “How can you help me get me more out of my advertising investment?” In an economy where every cent counts and budgets are getting smaller, stretching those dollars to obtain improved results is even more important. In the past, “value adds” or “value added” has been seen as icing on the cake for a large advertising investment. Today, media companies are more willing to negotiate value adds for all levels of advertisers. The most important lesson I’ve learned is: if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Here are a few tips to help you stretch your advertising dollars:

  1. Ask your station rep, media contact or ad agency partner about adding your logo and a link to your website on the station’s website during the ad campaign.
  2. Offer trade – (free services or gift certificates in exchange for advertising or promotional exposure) - to your cash investment to really beef it up.
  3. Inquire about bonus “spots” (commercials or ads) or bonus color – when ad sales are sluggish, many stations are willing to run your ads for free during non-peak hours or as fill-ins really stretching those dollars. Print publications may give free color that will spruce up your black and white ad.

It can’t hurt to ask what your media contact or agency partner can do to help you get the most for your investment. After all, if you succeed, you’ll likely buy more advertising—and they’ll succeed!

Mary Ann Grooms has been with vitalink ( for over three years as Project Director/Media Buyer. She handles a significant amount of market research and sends out the firm’s press releases through her extensive list of media contacts. Mary Ann also volunteers her time for a variety of causes, such as NC Special Olympics, Raleigh Rescue Mission, and Light the Night. She can be reached at 919.850.0605 or via email at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Growing Fast: Location-Based Tools

You may have heard people mention Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places—maybe you even use these tools. They all have fans and are growing rapidly. But if you aren’t sure what location-based tools do, you should learn more about how they work and how you might incorporate them into your marketing toolbox.

From a marketing perspective, let’s say I own a retail boutique at the mall and participate as a Foursquare vendor. Foursquare knows when my potential client is at the mall. Foursquare can send a special offer to her mobile phone telling her that if she “checks in” at my boutique, she gets a 10% discount on the new fall styles that just arrived. Built-in analytics features allow me to track the number of shoppers that use the check-in feature. Don’t forget to cross market this in displays that people will see. Put a poster in your store window asking people to check in, which gives them another reason to enter your store. Then add a reminder such as a register topper and a postcard letting people know about your location based promotions and asking them to participate.

According to a recent article by DM News, only about 1% of people currently use location-based services, and 85% of them are under age 40. But this number is growing daily as more merchants are joining the bandwagon and more people buy new mobile devices to replace their old cell phones. The usefulness of the tool does depend on your industry, client base and how you market it, but think outside the box and consider how you might include this capability in your marketing arsenal. We’d love to hear how you use these tools or if you have a success story to share!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Using Books to Market Your Firm or Business

Easy access to the internet and the subsequent explosion of data has changed how most of us research subjects and obtain information that we need to do our jobs and live our lives. You must get noticed – and writing is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. There’s nothing better than “buzz”—you want people talking about you as an expert—it drives new clients your way; in many cases, clients you capture without spending lots of money to advertise. A big benefit of posting content on the internet with your name and web information linked to it: getting the search engines to pick it up.

You have a number of options, based on the amount of time you are willing to spend and (in some cases) the amount of money. These options include:

* Books – printed versions or e-books: use as give-aways at seminars and events.
* Articles – published in trade journals or posted online.
* Blogs – write your own or guest blog.
* Social Media Discussions – find a blog, LinkedIn group or online news articles that will allow you to comment as an expert.

Ready to get started? Here are a few simple rules that should help:

2. Write to the level of your audience
3. Relevant topics only and they must add value to the reader – what’s in it for them?
4. Use keywords
5. Include links to other relevant content on your site or others
6. Let your personality and the personality of your law firm come through
7. Be true to your brand

Can't think about writing a book all on your own? Ask us about ghostwriting.

Marketing Speaker

I wanted to say that I get so energized when I'm asked to speak to a group. Especially when you have great feedback and input. Last week I spoke to the Raleigh Chamber AM group on the 5 Myths of Creating a Marketing Plan and Budget and last night I spoke in to the Charlotte Business Professional group on Using Social Media and the USPS to Create Customers. Both of these groups had a variety of industries represented and they were engaged in the process and had great questions.

If you have any marketing questions or comments, please ask. This blog may not be an in person event, but it can still be a learning forum.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Strategy and Insight

I just saw Rudy Guiliani speak and thought I'd share some of the inspiration I got from his speech. Engage the mind. Write, listen to people, and read. This develops your ability for decision making. I am a big proponent of his philosophy -figure out how something can work for you - always think - how can I use this? During 911 he used plans developed for other things to help w/this disaster. His ability to think how could he use things helped the nation through a crisis. The world we live in is going through a revolution of information and changing economic times, become engaged in learning about how you can use this knowledge to help.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

See no evil. Hear no evil. Do no evil…. The monkey’s marketing lesson.

See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil. The three monkeys had it right in describing the 3 learning styles. And, like this famous image shows, we don’t all learn the same way. These primary learning “styles” of seeing, hearing and doing impact how an individual receives your marketing message.

What does this mean to you as a marketer? Your approach may need to integrate elements of the three learning styles to be more successful. This same theory applies to combining marketing channels to conduct a more effective campaign (a.k.a. integrated marketing).

Within the “seeing” group, some individuals are more drawn to your content and want to read all they can to learn. This group may ignore your graphics; the ad creative is not as important to them as the written word. Others are drawn to images, layout, and information delivered in short chunks. Think USA Today.

The “hearing” group learns best when they have auditory messages. This could come on the radio, recorded messages (on hold, website), music (web background), and also video which combines images, movement and sound (website, TV, in office, mailed DVDs or CDs, via smart phones).

The final “doing” group likes things “hands-on” and might be approached best with a free sample that they can touch, taste, or smell (depending upon your product!) or product demonstrations (live or on the web).

Whichever method or media you choose, don’t forget to include a “call to action” (i.e., what do I want the prospect to do with the advertisement, commercial, blog, sample, or video). Here are some ways you might combine techniques to effectively target these learning styles.
• In a printed marketing piece, position graphics and headlines to provide the highlights, then include more detail (if there is room) or add specific website information for those who want to learn more. As an option, offer a free newsletter for signing up via email (this allows you to capture key prospect information as well).
• If you produce a video, include written captions, a link to an information-filled website or blog, or offer a downloadable whitepaper or tips sheet with more information. Post segments of the video on your website and YouTube.
• Offer video viewers the option of subscribing to future videos or signing up for a written (e-mail or printed) newsletter or blog (or both).
• Sending a targeted direct mail piece for a new software product? Provide each user with a personalized link to a demo of the software that allows them to go hands-on and see how it works.
• Promote a new food product line using social media – offering free samples with a coupon that can be either printed or stored on a mobile device to show to the cashier!

Take a look at the ads you see over the next few days and see if (and how) they combine techniques and channels to reach more than one learning style. There’s not one “right” way to do this—it takes some thought, planning and testing to see which methods will work best for your target market. Begin thinking about how you can take these ideas and use them in your marketing. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to Approach a Magazine Editor

I was recently asked to submit a tip for approaching a magazine editor. Editors are beseiged with input on a daily basis, so you really have to get creative to be noticed and recognized as having valuable information. Find some great tips (including #47 - mine) by visiting The entreprenette Gazette.

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