Are your local ads working?

The famous old complaint from Henry Ford was that “half of my advertising is wasted—I just don’t know which half”. Ford’s comment was made in the heyday of newspaper publishing, when huge readerships provided a strong mass-market advertising platform, and yet he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t convinced he was getting good value from his ads.

Model T

A lot of businesses that advertise locally have the same nagging doubt as Henry Ford. Many continue to advertise, despite sketchy, hard-to-measure returns, because it’s ‘just what you do’.

Unfortunately, these businesses face a double-whammy. Newspaper readerships have tumbled as punters move online. Despite counter-claims from publishers (some desperately cutting back the editorial budget), local advertising just doesn’t have the reach it once did.

So, it makes sense to advertise online, right?

Maybe.

Google’s AdWords provide the perfect market insofar as you only pay for clicks to your site (yawn…). Yes, this can work, but I suggest that it is those businesses that compete on price that benefit most from such paid listings. If you market a premium service to other businesses, or one that is complex, you’ll need to establish trust and credibility before prospects consider you.

Would you part with the folding stuff straight after clicking on a paid ad on Google? (Indeed have you ever clicked on a paid listing?)

We don’t want banners

Banner ads are less and less acceptable to business browsers, even if the geo- and demographic targeting of ads is gradually improving undoubtedly sophisticated. I’ve researched this with businesspeople, and, while they are happy for low-level on-page sponsorship, most people seeking answers online DO NOT want straightforward ads getting in the way.

But the biggest point is this: an advert, whether online or in the papers, is only visible as long as you pay for it. Once the budget is used up, the campaign is over. What leads you were getting will stop dead.

A better way to reach out and connect with your prospects in an ongoing, meaningful way is to set up and manage a regular feed of tasty new content aimed at your prospects. This gets you in the search rankings when the buyers you are after search for selected terms embedded in your content. And it positions you and your business in a highly favourably light, as someone who can solve the exact business problem they have that day.

There are many, many ways to get these articles onto the web so that people searching for your kind of services do so in context and find you. The web is a hungry animal and it loves new content. You could take the No. 1 position in your sector by focussing on content marketing.

A couple of content ideas

  1. Practical, compelling articles, perhaps offering an insiders’ view of your service or product area, will be picked up by prospects that search on keywords and phrases in your content.
  2. Maybe you could offer some cracking background tips to people who are researching a purchase in your sector. They’ll appreciate the info, and have a completely different impression of your business than if they had clicked on an ad (which, let’s be honest they won’t do, in their millions).

Marketing your business with content in this way creates a lasting asset that will continue to pay dividends, long after your ad campaign is over.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • RickWaghorn 07/02/2010, 8:25 pm

    Or else you just place the ad yourself… right in front of the community that you, the advertiser, knows matters to you…

    Bit like Josh And Archies Shop; know that their audience live in Lichfield; why optimise their content to that level of sophistication when they can place that ad themselves for a tenner a month… just as he would place an ad in the window of his local Post Office.

    http://thelichfieldblog.co.uk/

    Open, simple, accountable. And done in three clicks.

    best etc

  • admin 07/02/2010, 8:34 pm

    Hi Rick, never seen the Addiply self-service system before, interesting. Hyper-localised sites are a good solution for local businesses, thanks for the comment. Mick

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