Design Business Advertising Methods
Advertising has two effects. It sometimes brings in a sale, it always helps build the brand or name in this case as (noted on the previous article). It can be expensive though so it’s important to look at your advertising dollar with great caution and for this exercise you want the biggest bang for your buck with any promotional activity you undertake. As a small business there is little discretionary dollar for trial so be careful.
For example I wouldn’t recommend the yellow pages for a design company. I have no problem with the medium but I believe its better suited for other industries. Firstly its expensive for what it is. Secondly it doesn’t really reach the target audience that you require and in my experience and from those that I know in the industry it rarely effects a phone call. When they say let your fingers do the walking it doesn’t apply to designers. We all offer virtually the same services but we don’t want to be a budget service. Interior design and decoration services are luxury items (that’s the perception anyway) that people will seek through recommendation so don’t bother with common place advertising such as the yellow pages. When was the last time you browsed them?
If the yellow pages cost you $1,200 for a year what guarantees that eyeballs will actually see your advertisement. With $1,200 a series of prominent adverts in your local community paper would buy a great deal of exposure letting your target audience know that you are there and available. A $200 advert in a community paper is quite prominent and when placed five or six times concurrently eg every two months will quietly reinforce the brand and hopefully bring in some work as well. It is going to be seen by a great many more people in your target market than a directory. Perhaps the paper is running a home improvement feature. Your advertisement could incorporate an article (or just be a separate article given to the paper for your exposure) about soft furnishings and color. Don’t think that you are giving away free information but instead becoming an authority on interior design. Of those that read those articles they are usually looking for inspiration and ideas, not to undertake the project themselves. If they are going to do it themselves they will find the information anyway and you are still getting your name out there.
So when you look at using other media to advertise with you must always ask yourself, will this publication reach my target market? If you think so you then need to ask the seller of the advertising space how many people of my target market will this reach. Be specific and make them come back to you with demographics in writing. They will never guarantee this and it would be a very big call to ask them to do so however the reaction should tell you enough to be confident in using the publication. They will have geographical and demographic statistical information. Design business advertising is no different from any other part of the business, it all has to be accountable.
Take the time to read the information and be cynical asking all the time:
- is this information true or sales hype?
- is this my target market ?
- will my advertisement reach out to the market?
- will I get at least one sale to justify the advertisement?
- to what level will it build my brand?
While they are all hard questions the very fact that they are asked means that you are not being complacent and thinking that just because you spend the money that it will work. As a designer you have extremely good analytical skills and training. Use them!
What are our options in advertising?
Generally we have three forms of media. Television, print and radio. Of course we now have the internet as well and while there are some of these areas that are useful I’ ll cover them briefly here and in depth in the internet section.
Lets start with Television
Firstly if you want to be on any of the larger networks its going to be expensive and on prime time even more expensive so for the small design business this really is a no no. However there are forms of television that can be effective advertising for your services and especially with brand building. Local television is obviously the best as it points to your locality and is viewed by your geographic market. Finding a suitable medium could be difficult. If there is an interior design show on local content then your aim will be to get on that show and get yourself known. You may be able to do this by offering free content. ie with your own clients permission some shots or video footage that the station can use on the show. All credit to yourself of course and they are getting free content. Another angle may be to offer a guest presentation. It should cost you nothing and if you are adding value and content to the show then its a winner for both parties. The other option of course is to pay for the advertising. I don’t recommend this unless its in the form of an advertorial as with design services you need to get the reader to engage with the content to get them to remember it and then talk with authority about the deliverer of the content. (I hope that you will do this with this site. The content is free and we hope you spread the word if its useful or even just gets you thinking.)
“When you get your viewer or reader to engage then the likely hood of their remembering the advertising mesage increases at least ten fold especially when your mind switches into Beta mode rather than the other states such as Alpha (theta and delta are when you are daydreaming or deep sleep)” http://www.brainev.com/Research-Benefits/Brainwaves.aspx
What about Radio?
I have never been an advocate for radio when advertising for work for a designer. I could be wrong but I have yet to hear of a successful campaign for a design company using your ears. Its obvious isn’t it. Design is very visual and your potential clients are looking for proof to your visual abilities. It isn’t law or accountancy but a product that is very tactile and tangible and relies mainly on the eyes for its benefits. Radio is also a very broad brush form of advertising and would work hard to specifically target a design audience. However radio can have its benefits. If your company is organising or sponsoring a design event then it is an effective way of letting the public know the event is taking place. This may be a series of lectures or slide presentations that are to be given at the university technical centre or even local school as part of continuing adult education. (This may be a way of building your reputation refer to public relations) or it may be that the local design school (at any level) is posting a display or the results of a competition that you are sponsoring. Radio is a very effective way of getting people to a free event that offers education or entertainment while you build your brand around the event through sponsorship.
Print Media and Design Business Advertising
Here is an extremely effective and efficient way of building your brand and securing ongoing work but once again you need to be very aware of the specific market that you are targeting and the amount of “eyeballs” that are falling on that media. There are many forms of media that target the interiors industry however you must be very careful here. It is absolutely no use going to advertise in a national publication if the market you are serving doesn’t read that publication or serves only a small part of it. With print media you also need to get the reader engaged in your advertisement so it may be that you offer to write articles or use the media as a feature. There is a great deal of nonsense regarding advertising especially for the small operator to be involved in the larger magazines. While this may work to some extent with product I’m not convinced that this is the correct place for a small service company to be trying to gain clients. A far more direct approach is required. Use print media local to your community and target market. This may be newspaper or local community papers. If this is the case again the target market will need to be confirmed by the seller of the advertising space and then the advertising will require a comprehensive campaign with a call to action for your busines to benefit. It may be that the advertisement that you place builds the brand aswell as sells the service. A novel way of approaching the advertisier is to buy 4 advertisements and prebook another 8 at a reduced rate. The advertisement is carried on for the 4 however if ther is no result for the first 4 then do you carry on with the remaining 8? You’ve recieved discount but not continued with the advertising because it hasn’t worked? The point here is that you cannot be complacent about the advertising during its cycle. It needs to be monitored and if it hasn’t worked, is the advertising company to be held to account? It is a partnership. They will want to sell your product (which is the services you provide) but you will be responsible for the advertisement and the call to action. Most publications offer the design of the advertisement as a free service however I do not recommend this.
In all cases, the advertisement must be a reflection and an integral part of your marketing and promotion plan. I cannot stress this enough.
The Internet and Design Business Advertising
There are some areas of the internet where direct advertising can work but it is still in its infancy and until the niche marketing and channels are fully developed then I believe its futile. My only real exception to this would be using content sites that are working with major systems such as google or nsphere. They still have to produce the eyeballs but the beauty of a system such as google is that you can target directly the geographic area that you wish to advertise in as well as the type of website that you want o advertise with and even the keywords. Further to this you only pay when the advertisement is clicked on meaning that you get the branding for free as its still displayed and if the advertisement that you have written is clicked on usually (but not always) the viewer is generally interested in what you have to offer. Again though I cannot stress this enough