You might think that all you have to do is put some advertising in the paper and customers will phone you and suddenly you are in business. After all that is what most other businesses do isn’t it? If you do that you will definitely not be making the best use of the advert and quite likely be losing money.
Let me make a few points about a local newspaper advert.
- A local newspaper advert can be quite expensive. Before you start, telephone your local newspaper advertising department and ask them to send you a rate card to get the exact cost. You may find that the rate card is online.
- Local newspaper advertising has an extremely short useful lifespan. If you don’t get a response within 3 days you will not get one. In fact you are most likely to get a response within 24 hours, if at all. After all, there is nothing more out of date than yesterday’s newspapers, and old newspapers quickly end up in the recycle bin. Free newspapers tend to last a little longer (anywhere up to a week), whereas paid for newspapers tend to last 2-3 days.
- Newspapers cover a large area and you will, therefore, be getting calls from further away than with cards. This can be a good thing when you are looking to expand but can be painful when you start up as you can easily spend more time travelling than you might like.
- You will get a lower conversion rate from an advert in a newspaper than from customers who have made contact in response to a card. By this I mean that a larger number of your calls will be from customers who decide after talking to you that they do not want or need your services after all. In fact you may get a conversion rate as low as 25%.
- The newspaper will offer you a range of possible formats for advertising. Lineage is the cheapest and I have found that the simplest wording generally works best. One that I have used often used is: Computer Problems? Hardware or software 0123 456789. I have found that this works as well as advertising that cost 20 times as much.
- On the other hand display advertising carries more weight and customers think it looks better.
Rule 1 – Count Your Responses
If you are going to use local newspaper advertising you must monitor the responses to different advertising on different days and make decisions on renewal accordingly. If an advert is not bringing you customers, don’t be slow to change it or cancel it. After all it is your money.
Rule 2 – How to Increase your Conversion Rate
I have already stated that your conversion rate from a local newspaper advert could be as low as 25%. There is one simple technique that will easily double that conversion rate.
When customers ring you in response to a local newspaper advert then make sure that you get their address as well as their name and phone number. Tell them it is so that you can send them some more information. Almost everyone will do this for you when you tell them this is the reason. You then send them a covering letter and attach one of your marketing cards to it. Make sure that the letter is sent out immediately by first class post. If someone refuses to give you their address then you can be pretty certain that they were only after some free advice anyway. If you wish to, then follow up the letter with a phone call three or four days later. Some of our consultants tend to do the follow up call and some don’t. In my business I do not make the follow up call as a rule but if any customers originally requested it then I put it in my diary and I do.
In this way you are certain to at least double your conversion rate. The reasons for this effect are simple. We have already stated that the local newspaper is a throwaway medium and having your card and a letter increases the chance that customers will have your phone number when they need to ring you back. It might be obvious when stated like this but not many businesses seem to do it. Make sure that you do.
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