Our business earns most of its revenue from advertising sales.Effective advertising can be costly. You rarely achieve worthy results with a single ad in a single publication (or website or broadcast media), and while online advertising allows for much more rapid feedback and measuring than the older formats, you still need to make significant investments without any assurance of return until you discover the magic formula.
That “magic formula” occurs when you can quantify the return on your advertising investment at a profitable level.
Then your story becomes much easier. You test your successful advertising campaign against other variations, seeking improvements and better results, but knowing your baseline process is profitable, you can simply control the volume of advertising to determine the number and value of relevant leads.
In other words, once you figure it out, the advertising, while expensive in cash dollars, is really inexpensive, because you know it works.
The challenge, of course, is getting to that stage, and few businesses I know succeed. The ones that have discovered the formula become (for us) reliable and regular clients. Publishers, like contractors, architects, and engineers, who wish to stay in business for any length of time, need to deliver enough value that they can attract and retain repeat clients, and we do.
But what about that first hurdle?
I wish I had a clear and easy answer because it would make our sales proposition much easier. We would be able to tell our clients to follow the instructions specifically, set a straightforward advertising investment target, and then guarantee the results — making it a relatively risk-free prospect for the clients.
Unfortunately, I cannot safely predict what will work, and why, and so I need to counsel caution with our advertising clients, instead offering a slightly different guarantee. “We will deliver enough value for your investment that you will achieve profitable results,” — not necessarily specifically from the advertising, but from other resources, support, contacts, communications, marketing advice and other support. This is the ethically correct way to manage a business where the service we offer can be hard to individually quantify/value its effectiveness.
So, should you experiment/try print and online advertising to build your business? If your budget is truly limited, you frankly should consider other options first, though there is nothing wrong in advertising in support of your current clients (as this will support your existing relationships.) Consider other options — such as association participation/leadership and community service, or existing/previous client or referral outreach programs first.
Whatever you do, set up some metrics to measure the costs and return of your effort, and give the project enough time to so you truly know if it is effective. You can read my Construction Marketing Ideas book for more ideas here.