Deliver Your Message

Don’t just reach your potential customer base, build relationships with them.
Deliver Your Message
Luke Laggis

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I recently found a promotional mailer from a local plumbing firm that I’d never heard of. It was very nicely done, but the fact I even saw it at all before it ended up in the garbage was pure luck.

I had sorted through a pile of mail and was bagging up all the junk — mailer included — when I saw it. I was folding up the bundle to fit it into the bag when the mailer slipped out and floated across my kitchen floor. I’d never even heard of the company, but it’s right in my backyard.

So here was this expensive mailer from a local company I’d never heard of and the only difference between me seeing this company’s name or going on blissfully unaware of its existence was the heavy, glossy stock that allowed the card to slide out of the pile as I was throwing it away. Would you gamble your promotional dollars like that?

This particular mailer appeared to be a co-op venture with a major furnace manufacturer. That obviously cut the cost down considerably, and I wonder if that was the primary factor in this particular shop choosing to do the mailer. It would be easy to jump on board when you see the cost of your mailer cut in half, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good buy.

The fact is, plenty of small-business owners have no idea if they’re spending their marketing and advertising dollars effectively. It’s not easy to measure, but it’s easy to second-guess.

This month’s Smart Business column takes a look at print advertising, specifically the value of advertising in your local newspaper. Sometimes an ad in the paper is still a great buy, for several distinct reasons outlined in the column. But you’ve been told that to reach customers you must have a strong Internet presence, including a website, blog, Twitter account and Facebook page. If my target audience was under 30, that’s where my attention would be focused as well, but as good as those outlets can be at helping you build a brand, they’re not going to reach everyone and they’re not going to give you a community presence.  

In the case of that glossy mail promo, the company’s Web address wasn’t even valid. I was able to find them on Facebook, but the few posts on the page were basically just sales pitches and didn’t provide any substantive information.

In reality, just the fact that I’m writing about it probably means the local HVAC shop got more mileage out of this mailer than they ever imagined. But even though I’ve hung onto it for a couple months now, they still wouldn’t be my first call — or even second or third — if I needed someone to come and work on my furnace.

My point is there are advantages and disadvantages with every type of marketing and advertising. What’s important is that everything you do works together. Don’t send out a mailer with a bad Web address. Don’t waste the time on Facebook and Twitter if you’re not going to convey a strong message and help people build relationships with your company. Most importantly, don’t spend money just because you know you need to advertise. Formulate a plan. Target your message and brand yourself properly.

Make sure you’re giving people a reason to start a relationship with you and your company, because in the end, it doesn’t matter how good a plumber you are if no one calls.

Enjoy this month’s issue.


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