We are getting ready to publish the July issues of our regional construction industry publications. I’m going to admit a rather big weakness. Most of the ads in our publication that we have sold (and designed) are bad.
We assemble them quickly with generic messages and only brief communication with our clients who are usually advertising to support one of their own client’s features to demonstrate their loyalty and relationships.
These client-focused attributes and objectives are good. It never hurts your brand to associate with successful clients and projects. Think of this phrase: “If you are good enough to do business with the best, you must also be good enough to do business with me.”
Trouble is, our feature-supporting advertising clients rely on us to “make up” their ad for them. Since their expectations aren’t too high, we take the simple road: We obtain a logo, contact information, and then add a generic “proud to support (name of client)” message.
Our designer can whip these ads out quickly and efficiently. We send proofs to ensure the spelling and layout are okay and follow up with invoices with tear sheets of the final ad copy.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but where is the thinking, creativity, and imagination about how you can integrate the relationship with a marketing message far more important and spectacular. It might be a testimonial, a graphic image that catches your business story or an absolutely unequivocal (and amazing) benefit you offer that your competition can’t match. Note that our ad designers or salespeople can’t come up with these for you — and we are unlikely to discover the most effective marketing communication for you in the rush to get the publications to press.
Then how do you go from bad advertising to effective advertising? Here, I will outline some solutions.
Engage with professional consultants and pay for solid marketing advice. This option can be expensive but need not be. The challenge is finding good consultants. Word-of-mouth references and referrals work well here as they do for your own business if you are doing things right.
Check similar non-competitive businesses in similar markets. Study your industry-leading peers (one of the great values of belonging to relevant industry associations) and pick brains.
Turn back the “first version” of the ad provided by the media representative and ask for something better. Insist on real marketing intelligence. A good rep will refer you to someone within the publishing organization who will take some time to come up with a message that might really help your business. (This is an imperfect solution of course, but it never hurts to ask. In our business, you would likely end up talking with me.)
Of course, you should realize that a single one-time support ad will serve two limited but important purposes. It will identify you with the successful project and will allow you to show your identification with the successful client. A much more effective strategy is to look at how these two attributes can be expanded and enhanced into an ongoing campaign.
Here, I can suggest something that is mutually beneficial. Sit down with your advertising representative, look at all the interesting projects and activities you are working on and determine the story behind them. Then you can work with the publisher to tell the story about your business and enhance the positive association between it and your clients’ successes. As an ongoing rather than one-time advertiser you deserve and should expect some real customer service from the publisher.
This takes some work and time, of course, but who said that success comes without any effort?
Nevertheless, we’ll still be happy to publish your “proud to support” ads without much else if that is what you want.
P.S. The client experience is vital and while we sell these one-time ads quickly and efficiently, everyone who advertises in our print media is welcome to connect with me personally and can attend special marketing Webinars and receive a free copy of my Construction Marketing Ideas book. (I can’t give it away if you purchase a $12.00 one month link reference here but will send it to you if you spend a few hundred dollars on advertising.) The book, incidentally, recommends that conventional advertising in print or other media should only be a small part of the marketing process for most AEC businesses.