Tag : media-mix

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169: The Oddest Objection I Get When Consulting

I get a really odd response when I recommend that Facebook receive a sizable chunk of a marketing budget.

“Not everyone’s on Facebook, though.”

I’ve never heard a client declare, “Not everyone gets the newspaper, though.”

I’ve never heard an auctioneer say, “But not everybody opens their mail.”

The irony in my clients’ rebuttals is that Facebook is the most dominant channel in any medium in our country. As of August of 2015, 62% of the adult population and 72% of adults in the country who use the Internet are on Facebook.1 Two thirds of those Facebook users visit the site every day.2

By contrast, the most watched show on TV last year (Sunday Night Football) garnered 6.6% of the nation’s population.3 That’s 10% of Facebook’s daily reach, and it’s available only 17 nights a year. Plus, advertising to that small fraction of people would cost you just short of a firstborn child.

“But older folks aren’t on Facebook.”

64% of Internet users ages 55 to 64 use Facebook.1 Only 44% of Americans ages 55-64 read a newspaper.4 It’s safe to assume the percentage of adults who look through the classifieds of those newspapers would be significantly smaller still.

Not only is the quantity of newspaper subscribers shrinking (7% for daily papers and 4% for Sunday papers—last year alone), so is the quantity of newspapers themselves. A net of 118 U.S. newspapers closed their doors between 2004 and 2014.5 Multiple times in the past couple years, I’ve had to email a client to let them know that a newspaper they requested is no longer in print.

In contrast, the number of mailboxes in America isn’t shrinking; and neither is Facebook’s user base.

“Well, professionals and investors [rich people] aren’t on Facebook.”

2015 Facebook Users78% of on Internet users with household incomes above $75,000 are on Facebook.1 That happens to be the highest percentage of any income bracket.

Facebook will let you filter audiences by income, by net worth, by liquid assets, and by number of lines of credit. I regularly target lists of millionaires and multimillionaires on Facebook and get tons of traffic to my clients’ websites—for both commercial and luxury residential properties.

One of my clients auctioned a medical office building earlier this year. We had a direct mail campaign and ads deployed in local and business newspapers. At the first open house, every single prospect touring the property came from Facebook. They weren’t teenagers or minimum wage workers.

Am I saying advertising budgets should be almost all Facebook?

Absolutely not. No media saturates 100% of your prospect base. It’s good to cover as many bases as you can afford.

What this data should determine, though, is the priority order in your advertising budget. Actually, that hierarchy should be determined more by your internal data than by user statistics and audience size. If you’re polling your bidders at every auction and then tracking your offline & online media in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to tell which media work best for specific asset types in specific geographical locations.

I recently bet a client that, if their winning bidder came from one of a selection of out-of-state newspapers, I’d rebate all of my design fees. I wasn’t promising a bidder from Facebook. I just knew we could reach far more people and a much more targeted audience on the same spend, and I prefer efficient advertising over hail Mary throws. (They agreed.)

Most of the small business folks who object to my bullish stance on Facebook don’t have data to refute my assertions. They’re working off assumptions, anecdotal recollections, and their personal habits. (“I never get on my Facebook.”) Auctioneers who do test and measure and analyze have been moving more money to Facebook, Google, direct mail, and signs—away from newsprint.

I’m not telling you how or where to spend your money. I’m just letting you know that neither you nor I can trust our assumptions.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com
Chart linked to source.

1 “The Demographics of Social Media Users
Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center. August 19, 2015.

2. “Facebook Passes 1.65 Billion Monthly Active Users, 54% Access the Service Only on Mobile
Emil Protalinski, Venture Beat.April 27, 2016.

3 “Here’s How Much Ad Time in NFL Games Costs Marketers This Season
Anthony Crupii, AdAge. September 15, 2015.

4 “Newspapers: Sunday Readership by Age
Pew Research Center

5 “Newspaper Fact Sheet
Michael Barthel, Pew Research Center, June, 2016.

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111: The 4 Steps to Advertising Success

I’ve learned that one of the first questions I need to ask a client on a campaign is, “Do you have a mailing list?”

I can’t tell you how many times that a client and I have been corresponding about the final changes to a direct mail piece, when I’ve asked if they had their mailing list ready to send to the print shop. “Oh, we don’t have one; could you find one for us?”

By this point of the campaign, the budget is pretty much set; the website and newsprint distribution is already in play; and we have to adjust the direct mail audience to however many we can reach with what’s left in the budget. If analytics have proven that direct mail won’t be a primary or secondary media for a particular asset or geographic category, this would be more understandable. So often, though, we are highly dependent on a mailing list to reach the most likely prospects.

I don’t mind working with my mailing list broker to build lists for my clients, but the mailing list being unsettled at this point means that the campaign was planned backward. The marketing plan started with a dollar amount rather than a defined audience.

This problem is bigger than mailing lists or even budgets. Most successful campaigns require four strategic stages in this specific order: audience, then medium, then message, then production.

1: Audience

You can have an amazing, award-winning piece of advertising; but if the right people don’t see or hear it, they won’t know to transact with you. The first question of a campaign should be, “Who would be the best prospect—the best buyer, seller, or referral agent—for this campaign?”

2: Medium

Once you have that profile in your head, you can then ask, “How or where would this prospect most likely need to see or hear our notification?” It’s at this point, when you should start researching mailing lists along with applicable websites, print publications, and other media. You can then adapt the size or reach of each respective media to match the quantity of prospects that you can reach with your budget. This mix could vary from one asset market to another and from one geographic market to another, and polling bidders at your auctions will let you know how to manage that mix for the next similar auction. Similarly, you can survey sellers and referral agents for similar campaigns to them.

3: Message

You can successfully get your advertising in front of the right people; but if it doesn’t speak to their needs or wants, you’ve only annoyed the best prospects. We have only a few seconds to appeal to what the seller values.


So, lead with facts. Explain the benefit of the facts, only if you have room. (Most of your audience is smart enough to decipher their benefit from the facts.) Leave information like preview dates, terms, and company information at the end of your medium—not in places of prominence. Nine times out of ten, “auction” should not be the headline, because it’s very rarely the primary benefit for the buyer or seller. And if your logo is at the top, please go back to Go. Do not collect $200.

4: Production

You can be in the right place in front of the right people, saying the right message; but if you’re there at the wrong time, you can still fail to connect with the prosper. If you have the right words but also have images that look like they came from a security camera, your pitch will lose punch. If the design of the print piece or production of the broadcast piece is shoddy or distracts from the asset(s) for sale, that will be the impression of your brand and, by extension, what you’re selling. Spelling and grammar matter. Readability (or ease of inferring from a broadcast) matters. Sometimes, even creativity matters.

There are no universal marketing guarantees, but starting from our audience’s perspective helps us ask the right strategic questions throughout a campaign. It’s not always easy to look through our audience’s lens, because we are often in a different head space than our prospect. When we do, though, we improve your chances of a successful campaign.


I find that people get the whole Jesus thing out of order—even more often than marketers get their strategy backward.  A lot of people think they have to clean up their mess before Jesus can come into their space, that they have to complete a certain amount of self-improvement or lifestyle detox to invite him into their lives.

The truth is that any movement toward perfection is still short of perfection.  Jesus wants to join us in the chaos, destruction, and dysfunction of our lives in order to display what he brings to the table.  He wants us to realize how much we need him, how much he has done and keeps doing for us.  The Bible says all of our righteous attempts without him are like used menstrual rags—not exactly impressive gifts to give him or our world.

Jesus doesn’t need us to do anything but surrender to his sovereignty.  Once he’s the one steering our lives, his power changes us from the inside out.

Stock images purchased from iStockphoto.com.

67: Eight Lessons From the Rear View Mirror

Birthday Cake CandleNormally, AdverRyting posts are reserved for singularly-focused articles related to small business marketing.  But it just so happens that today is the eighth anniversary of the day biplane productions opened its doors (in the guest bedroom of a second-floor apartment), designing advertising for an auction in Central Michigan.  It seems like forever and somehow yesterday—maybe because of all the all-nighters I’ve pulled that blur the days.

I’ve learned a lot about life & people, business management & customer relations, accounting & planning, faith & government, efficiency & profitability, auctions & media.  I couldn’t sum all of that in a book, let alone an email.  So, I decided to tell you eight of the top things I’ve learned about auction marketing.

Marketing Without Measurement Is a Gamble
If you can’t prove why you do/don’t use specific media in your marketing mix (and in the proportion that you do), why should your sellers trust your “experience”?  When budgets are tight, you will benefit from knowing which media are the most efficient at getting bidders to your sales.

Advertising Mixes Will Be Constantly in Flux
There will always be new ways to reach prospective buyers, because the makeup of communities and the media landscape changes faster than a Cirque de Soleil performer between sets.  Auction budgets will regularly be adding line item expenditures, even if the bottom lines remain similar.

Consistency Trumps Creativity
Every advertising piece you produce is telling the marketplace either that you work with precision—and thereby reliability—or that you’re too cheap to deliver predictable service and/or quality product.  Creativity gets short-term attention; consistency builds long-term brands.

If You Want to Compete With the Big Boys, Brand Like They Do
Small companies trust their name.  Fortune 500 companies trust their branding.  Look at the national industry leaders.  It’s not an accident they grew larger and more quickly than you, when their advertising looks better than yours.  Perception trumps reality in our culture.

Social Media Is For Conversations, Not Broadcasting
Join the conversation, or be considered the annoying, interrupting commercial.  Be interesting; but even more so, be interested in those in those environments.  Put the “interact” in “interactive media.”  Build relationships, and you’ll build a following.

Photography Is the Barometer of Your Marketing
While I enhance a large percentage of the images sent to me for media, there is a ceiling for dark, cluttered, blurred, and haphazard images.  Low-resolution images snagged from the Internet will handcuff your designer—and the attractiveness of what you’re selling.  Professional design will put your images in their best light; professional images will put what you’re selling in its best light.

Advertising is For the Buyer, Not the Auctioneer
You only have a few seconds to hook a buyer.  Lead your advertising with what’s important to them: the asset and the benefit of that asset.  Sales method and date and directions are secondary or tertiary information.  Estate names are for the fine print, unless people will buy their items predominantly because of who owned them.

Auctions Can Be Made or Broken Before the Opening Bid
If the right people aren’t in the seats, your auction will not achieve its highest potential.  Work on honing your marketing prowess more than your chant and crowd management.  Sometimes, it takes partnering with someone from another company (or network of companies) to give your client the best marketing.

I look forward to learning and growing—with you—in this next year.  I would love to hear from you the top things you’ve learned in your career!

Image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2010

6: The Standard Question

CompassI get the question all the time, “So, what media do you recommend?” It’s usually from an auctioneer moving into a new geographic or market area—and it’s a valid, important question.

Problem is, I can’t answer that question.

I can tell you how many readers a publication draws or how many visits a web site generates. I can give you anecdotal information I’ve gotten from other clients. But I can’t tell you where your buyer is easily and/or most influenced.

That’s not a cop out. I’ve helped with auction advertising now in 35 or so states, selling everything from mismatched silver wear to $12 million waterfront real estate. You’d have thought I’d have learned something from the 1,100 campaigns to which I’ve contributed.

Okay, I have.

  1. Use the full extent of “free” or inexpensive media you can, when applicable. Press releases, web listing sites, virtual tour programs, and community events head a list of alternative ways I’ve helped auctioneers get the word out with limited budgets.
  2. Poll your bidders at the auction. While I’d love for people to come to your auctions because of BiPlane’s shnazzy direct mail pieces, they probably saw a newspaper add, web site, or sign. Or not. Every market is different. The answers will be, too. But patterns will emerge the more you do of the same in an area—geographic or sector-based.
  3. Start small into new media. The lure of discount contracts may make an immediate impact on the auction budget at hand, but you don’t want to get stuck with an unuseful outlet down the road.
  4. At the start, medium forays into more media trump large expenditures on a few outlets. Until you’ve got your poll data and know your buyer, it’s often safer to spend a little in a lot of places than a lot in few places. Mix line ads with display ones—in the same editions but different categories or in alternating editions.
  5. Build your ads, etc. to be utterly consistent, to help build brand recognition quickly in the media you do try. The pieces might not win awards; but you and I are in business to sell stuff not decorate office walls.

I can’t answer the “what works?” question with absolute authority. In a changing marketplace, what works this year may not work in three. So, this research—this pursuit of feedback and new media—is a constantly moving target. But those who stay at the front edge of it will have the profit advantage over those who stick with the status quo.

I like knowing where I’m going and what I’m going to do when I get there. When I traveled to New Zealand, I held a 20-some-page itinerary notebook with everything including pictures of the rental cars we were promised and email-home schedules (in both our home and destination time zones). I like structure, goals—plans.

Problem is, life doesn’t stick to plans, at least not mine. My first response gravitates too often to asking God for the answer(s). He doesn’t give specific, situational answers to modern enigmas in His Bible, written two millennia ago. He doesn’t speak audibly today to make up for the lack of computers & cars or vitamins & television in the New Testament. He’s just available to listen and to answer from somewhere within my ribs.

He does, though, give overarching principles that apply to all situations. Unlike my advice, it’s always true, consistently proven, forever right—even if not easy. As I learn to do just what I know to do, the rest of it—surprise—tends to take care of itself.

[footer]Stock image(s) used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2007[/footer]