Tag : marketing-period

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193: The Right Marketing Questions at the Wrong Time

I need to get better at asking questions of my clients earlier in the advertising process. Sadly, I often struggle to focus on the marketing strategy instead of billable tasks.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a direct mail piece designed for a client and then asked them for the mailing list—only to learn that they do they not have a mailing list and don’t know to whom they will mail it. Or right before I dive into some Facebook ads, I’ve realized I forgot to ask, “Who do you want to target?”

I’m apparently not alone in my absentmindedness, because a common response is: “I don’t know. What do you think?”

On the times when I’m actually on my marketing game early in the process, I’ve asked the auctioneer, “Who’s our buyer? What’s our prospect profile?”

“Well, I was hoping you could help me with that.”

Mind you, this is after the auction contract was signed. That means auctioneers are booking deals in new asset and/or geographic markets without knowing who their prospects are, let alone which media they need (and in what proportion) to reach targeted potential buyers.

The problem with this tardiness is that the buyer determines the advertising campaign.

The prospect guides where we have to advertise—in terms of both media type and geographic area. That profile dictates what kind of impression we need to make, and that (along with asset value) governs the budget.

So, how is it that so many auctions are booked and budgets are set before anyone asks, “Who is the buyer?”

Right Questions at the Wrong Time

Some of it might be too much trust in “the sound that sells”—the idea that auctions in and of themselves get stuff sold, regardless of asset. While an auction is a great vehicle for transactions of a myriad of items, there is no auction without bidders. So, the most important part of the auction marketing process is the attraction and accumulation of bidders.

To do that, we have to stop thinking like auctioneers or real estate agents or salespeople—or graphic designers. We have to get into the heads of the people who would want what we’re selling. Often, that’s the most difficult part of the process—for both my auctioneers and their advertising vendor. If we personally wouldn’t buy that asset, we have to research who would. We need to have a good idea what they need, and what motivates them.

Why would someone want farm equipment with this age and these hours?
Do hunters check their Facebook during hunting season? (And when is deer season where this land is?)
What kind of consumer is looking for an unfinished condo unit?
Where do subdivision developers search for new opportunities?
How far would someone travel to purchase from an on-site estate auction or pick up from an online auction?
What would convince a real estate investor to buy farmland instead of residential properties?
How much disposable income would someone need to purchase this asset?
For what other industries could this commercial equipment or real estate be used?
Are we building any media only to impress the seller instead of buyers?

These questions speak to buyer motive, media mix, and targeting options. Their answers help us write headlines and select demographic criteria. The followup questions to the examples above would further focus our advertising and make our budget more efficient—even if it means spending more money on fewer people to attract an action from them.

It doesn’t cost you money to ask these questions.

In fact, it might cost you significant money if you don’t ask these questions—especially if you don’t ask them before you sign the auction contract. Save yourself some headaches. Take the prescription four out of five TV doctors recommend: ask two of these questions, and then email your advertising vendors in the morning.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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173: 6 Things That Make Your Facebook Ads More Expensive

I regularly get asked to estimate the cost of a potential Facebook campaign off the top of my head. That can be difficult because the cost of advertising on Facebook can vary greatly depending on a multitude of factors. (Even in the same campaign, some ads are drastically more expensive than others.) Because what my clients and I advertise ranges greatly in category, value, and geographic market, the audiences vary accordingly.

Facebook advertising is billed in terms of cost per click (CPC), but that price isn’t uniform. CPC is determined by algorithms and invisible auctions. Ads compete for eyeballs, as Facebook allows only a certain number of ads during a user’s time on the service. Facebook wants ads to be appeal to its users, so that they aren’t annoyed off the platform. Because of this, the world’s largest platform wants paid content to match user interests as much as possible; and engaging ads are rewarded with lower cost per click.

But enough with the ambiguous factors, here are six specific reasons some of your Facebook ads cost more than others.

Unattractive asset

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t buy what you’re selling. You’re just crossing your fingers it sells. Or maybe the item at hand is less attractive to its local area (like a snowmobile in Orlando) or in the current season (like a motorcycle in December). If someone is less likely to purchase something, they are less likely to click on an ad for it. This isn’t a matter of asset value—just asset appeal. I’ve seen ads for small, rural estate sales significantly outperform expensive commercial real estate.

Unappealing copy or photos

You might have a fantastic asset, but the ad copy doesn’t evoke interest in potential buyers. The fault can be the wrong message, too many words, or a missing call to action. Also, the photography could be unprofessionally captured or otherwise underwhelming. It’s not that all images have to be snapped by commercial photographers; they just need to appropriately match the current, reasonable expectations of the consumer public for that asset.

Compressed time frame

Because ads compete for space, forcing them into a small window of time means that Facebook has to push your ads ahead of others with longer timeframes. To win the auction, you have to outbid every other advertiser. So, cutting line costs more. Sometimes, it’s very much worth it, if you are advertising to people at an event: say during the Super Bowl, a car show, or even a competitor’s auction.

Highly-competitive time frame

Certain times of year attract more advertising, because more retailers are advertising their wares. Think: Black Friday. I haven’t tested it, but I would imagine the week of Mother’s Day and Valentines would be more competitive. If you’re going hyper local in a metro area, there might be more advertising during festivals or perennial times of tourist activity.

Your prospect pool and its Facebook habits

Some desired audiences don’t interact with Facebook as often as others. That might be a factor of age, Internet availability, population density, or something else. Or you might be chasing a frequent Facebooker from a specific demographic or geographic area that a lot of marketers are chasing. Either way, supply & demand will make getting in front of them more expensive.

How the ad is optimized

Facebook offers multiple formats for your paid content to be presented. Each is inherently optimized by Facebook for different types of interactions—only one of which is getting people to your website. Also, even those intended for website traffic can be optimized for largest viewing audience, multiple views per prospect, or people most likely to click on links. So, even premium content can be more expensive from a cost-per-click standpoint due to how that content is ordered.

While we should all pursue more relevant ads, it’s important to note that efficiency is a secondary goal to effectiveness. Regularly, in my Facebook reports to clients, the ad that is most effective (got the most clicks) isn’t the most efficient one (lowest cost per click) we used in a campaign. Again, I regularly have huge swings in cost per click in the same campaign, using the same images and headlines.

Some audiences are worth their heftier cost. It only takes one click from the right person to have a buyer and two website visitors to have an auction.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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46: A Good Sign [for Auctioneers]

For 12 years, my driveway started on US-50 northwest of Ocean City, MD. From my bedroom, I could see three or four billboards trying to get beach traffic to spend some money locally. For good reason: a quarter of a million cars tripped the toll booth ticker each summer weekend—none of them from where the highway started in West Sacramento, CA.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), our country holds 450,000 billboards. If you were to relocate them all to US-50, that’d be one every 36 feet—for 3,073 miles. That’s a lot of advertising space!

Traditionally, billboards have been a poor fit for auctioneers, who don’t have time in their condensed marketing periods for the production schedule. Plus, most traditional billboard contracts require months or a full year of commitment and/or have periodic leases—where you have to wait until another’s lease expires.

But new LCD billboards, though currently less than 1% of available billboard space,† are changing the rules and rapidly growing in number.†† Digital billboards can now convert high traffic areas into prime auction advertising environments.

Digital billboards don’t require the printing cost or installation time of their paper or vinyl counterparts. Images are streamed via Internet or similar technology. Those images can rotate throughout the day or throughout the marketing period. (I helped an auctioneer with one digital billboard that had four different signs rotate for the same auction.)

Poll Results

Digital billboards can also be embedded with variable data, like weather indicators or forecast reports, sports scores or news headlines, date or countdown clocks—or even, as this picture from the OAAA shows from Tuesday night: election updates. So, you could have data that changes within a particular design like, “23 Days Until Auction” or “2 Open Houses Remaining.” Or you could have different auctions (or different items within the same auction) advertised on the same day. You can even have different messages in the morning than at night.

Digital billboards are more accessible to small business, because you share the sign with other advertisers, whose ads rotate with yours (typically, every 6-10 seconds††). While this means less face time per advertiser, it means more affordable packages. This system also allows the sign company to insert your ad(s) for short periods of time—perfect for event promotion like auctions.

Like auctions, digital billboards bring more action to a traditional transaction, in this case between advertiser and viewer. As more and more of these signs enter the marketplace, more auctioneers will have a chance to add value and diversity to their marketing budgets. Will you be one of them?

Watchfire, a national presence in outdoor LED signage, has this great report on 10 things to know before jumping into digital billboard advertising.

This OAA case study on a Midwest real estate company that switched from newsprint to variable billboards might interest you, too.

If your office has a prime location, you can install a smaller LED sign that exclusively advertises your content. I found this Watchfire report to contain insightful tips when considering that.

Special thanks to Ken Klein, Executive VP for the OAAA, for help with and content for this article.

Taking It Personally

Many people think they’ve got to get their junk straight before they can commit to Christ. Whether it’s kicking a tobacco habit or dropping out of the bar scene, getting back together with their estranged spouse or putting together a streak of church attendance—there are lots of self-made reasons I’ve heard people create as stepping stones to surrender to Jesus. It’s almost like it’s a time-release deal or a college course with prerequisites. “Yeah, when I settle down and clean up my act, then I’ll take another look at the church deal.”

Most people don’t know this, but Jesus doesn’t want us to clean up our acts. He wants to do that, so that he gets the glory for it. His love cannot be expressed as unconditional, if we can earn it. Like the Statue of Liberty, he asks us to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Like an LCD billboard, his work shines brightest against the backdrop of our dark lostness.

We can instantly access the Holy Spirit, the breath and presence of a living God, through instant, authentic release of our will to his holy Gospel—his sovereign Way, his saving mercy, his renewing grace. We don’t have to wait to clean ourselves with filthy rags, scouring with penance until we reach our personal limitations. We can don glowing, glimmering robes of his righteousness the moment repentance is true in our hearts.

“What is Digital Outdoor?” www.WatchFireDigitalOutdoor.com
†† “Advertising Trends: Digital Billboards,” www.The MarketingSpotBlog.com[/footer]


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