Advertising with more meat

This article was commissioned by and first published in Australian Meat News magazine.

‘Sell the sizzle not the sausage,’ is an old advertising phrase and while in this context it is used tongue-in-cheek, the adage still rings true.

There are many reasons why advertisers choose to advertise but the most common reason is to expose your business and products to a wider audience and open up opportunities with more people.

B2B (business to business) advertising is quite different to B2C (business to consumer). Much of the B2C dollars are spent on mass-media and brand awareness, think Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Woolworths and Coles. B2B is more niche – adopting the wrong approach can lead to a lot of wastage in time and effort. But recognising that business people are still people with hopes, dreams and feelings can help B2B advertising stand out from too much business-focused fodder.

Advertising mediums are now incredibly wide and to be noticed amongst all the other brands can be challenging.

Traditional media includes television and radio advertising, press, print and billboards and product placement in television shows and movies. More recently options such as Google Adwords, digital banner ads, YouTube advertising, social brand champions, social media advertising and sponsored content have been added to the mix. It is a veritable smorgasboard of choices and somewhat overwhelming for most. So where do you start?

Firstly, you need to decide what you are trying to achieve. What is the objective? Is advertising capable of achieving this objective or is it just the first part of the story? For instance, advertising can gain brand awareness; introduce a market to a new product; generate sales leads or promote a special offer.

Next, you need to determine who your target market is. Who do you want to talk to? Are they potential customers or decision makers in the businesses you are trying to attract?

In understanding your target market, job titles only go so far. By delving further into details about your target market you will gain more insight into what might interest them in your advertising. A target market profile usually includes age, gender, social and geographic demographics plus current attitudes and awareness of your brand. It’s like having a conversation with someone – you can have a much better chat if you know something about them.

Now you can begin to piece together your media plan. In B2B, trade publications, banner advertising, directories, social media advertising and Google Adwords and Remarketing (ads based on your internet searches) are worth investigating. Direct Mail and eDM (electronic Direct Mail) can also be successful. Mass media is usually too expensive for B2B and has too much waste – but that depends on the objective.

Creating a media plan that features a number of touchpoints (ways that customers interact with your business) to reach your audience with frequency and repetition is the best start to getting noticed and remembered. Of course, this will also be governed by your budget. There are many theories and models that determine how much frequency you need to be effective. In the past, a minimum of three ads was a recognised measure for print. Now with various media types and video in the mix, a number of other factors need to be considered.

So now you know what you want to achieve, who your target is and where you are going to place your advertising. It’s time to create your advertisements.

What you say in your advertising and how it looks needs to be compelling to the audience. It needs to stand out but still be relevant. What makes your target market tick? What do you have to offer that will interest them? Is there something unique about your product or is there a benefit it can own and stand behind? This is the sizzle and getting your audience excited in some way is the goal. It is important here to put yourself in your target market’s shoes and look at your offering from the eyes of your potential customer.

Advertising agencies, art directors, copywriters and designers are well versed in techniques of creating stand-out communications while balancing the personality of your brand. The imagery you use, the colours, the typeface and the language can all alter the response and the perception of your brand.

Often advertisers cannot be critical of their own ads but are very vocal in their opinions of ads they see day-to-day. It’s good to step back and take stock of what you notice. Some estimates suggest we are all exposed to more than 100 ads a day. How many do you remember, and why?

A ‘call to action’ in an ad is important if you have an offer or something you want the audience to do. If you are aiming for brand awareness, your brand is the most important thing – along with ensuring your website is easily found on Google or your web address is your brand name.

Other calls to action might be to make a phone call; click on an online button to go to a store to purchase a product; to follow on social media or to attend an event. Again, knowing your audience and how they communicate is important. If your audience is young, making a phone call is unlikely to be their choice of communication.

So how do you know if your advertising dollars are well spent? Measuring your ad against the original objective is the only way to determine this.

If brand awareness was your goal, look at the direct traffic on your website and see if it changes during your campaign period. But if your target market was people over 65 for instance, this might not be the right measure. Conducting research can also measure awareness – but you would also need to know what it was before the campaign to compare results.

Being able to look at statistics relating to your call to action is important. Measuring the number of calls, clicks or sales during and shortly after the campaign can provide insight into which media works best for your market and whether your ad resonates with your target market. Google Analytics can be a good tool for some of this information but can also throw up many questions. There are a number of industry averages of click through rates from banner advertising, Google Adwords and eDMs that you can compare to. Knowing these beforehand can ensure you have reasonable expectations of what your campaign can achieve.

As with everything in business, there are many variables in advertising. Some say it is a necessary evil, others are advocates. If you do your homework and have a clear goal, you’re halfway there. Use an expert if you can afford to – you will find it’s worth it. And remember, there is a reason why eye fillet is more expensive than sausages.