the single most powerful tool in local advertising

I found a book sitting on a dusty shelf titled “The 33 Ruthless Rules of Local Advertising” by Michael Corbett. In it, Michael gives numerous tips, well 33 actually, the most interesting of which I’ve summarized below. The most powerful tool according to Michael is outlined in Rule #9, a unique selling proposition (USP). My second favorite is #23 which is a great summary of the various benefits of different media.

#1 – Advertising is neither a necessary evil nor a cure-all

  • effective advertising can produce and maintain steady growth in any economic circumstances. That growth is relative. By “relative” we mean between 10 to 30 percent more growth than non-advertising

#9 – The Single Most Powerful Tool in Local Advertising. It’s called a Unique Selling Proposition

  • A USP is something you develop after looking at your competitors and seeing what’s not being offered that you can offer…It can even be something that produces a perception of uniqueness. Are you really better off being in the good hands of Allstate? If people think they are, who’s to Argue?
    Special Note: on a local level, I think Brasso Nissan has done a great job to uniquely brand themselves as the only car dealership that potential buyers can book an appointment

#10 – If Your Doors are Open, You Should be Advertising

  • You’re not advertising to a standing army. You’re advertising to a passing parade.

#11 – Budget Adequately For Advertising

  • As a starting point, earmark between 5 and 10 percent of gross sales for advertising…don’t forget to include an amount equal to about 10 percent of the budget for producing the ads, or making them media ready.
    special note: we do not charge for producing commercials at Rogers Radio

#12 – Think Long Term

  • At minimum, a local advertiser should have a long term, flexible budget, a unique selling proposition, and a commitment to at least a 12 month advertising plan.
    using the media for infrequent, short term advertising schedules will not get you the same growth benefits you’ll get when you advertise with consistency, frequency and impact.

#16 – Don’t Ask Your Customers What Brought them In

  • A poll was conducted at the front doors of a stores grand opening….As they entered the store, each shopper was asked “what brought you in?”
    Roughly 50% said radio, 30% said TV and 20% said newspaper. What interested the poll takers is that they never ran an ad on TV
    we’ve learned some things about polling and about people
    people don’t know what brought them in
    people don’t know that they don’t know what brought them in
    people don’t like not knowing what brought them in and they want to be helpful, so they’ll make things up
    never change your multiple media advertising plans based on what people say brought them in
    the only foolproof way to evaluate advertising effectiveness is by setting measurable growth objectives

#22 – Understand the Objectiveness of Media Salespeople

  • Talk to your media salesperson about Advertising’s Real Issues:
    Are your gross sales satisfactory?
    Is your advertising producing consistent results?
    Is there Growth available in the marketplace for your business?
    Is there a way to determine and justify your advertising budget?
    Is there a way to set a measurable growth objective for your ad budget?
    Is there a simple system of absolute accountability that allows you to determine the effectiveness of your ad expenditures?

#23 – Any Medium will Work if You Know How to Work the Medium


  • your job is to find the mass media that are most suitable to your budget, and to your objectives of establishing an equity position in a short time, say a few weeks, and of providing the impact necessary to motivate a few new prospects on a daily basis
    your budget will determine your growth objective
    you’ll want to reach enough people to motivate the total daily prospect count you’ll need, in order to reach your growth objective.
    start that process by dominating on member of one medium (ie. 1 radio station or 1 TV program), and grow out from there
  • Newspaper
    Research (Daniel Starch Report) reveals that in a large number of retail categories, bigger is not better.
    newspaper can be described as a price and item catalog for the Now Buyer. It’s a place for shoppers to compare prices and information after they’ve already been motivated to buy
    The Now Buyer will almost always find your ad, even if it’s not a full or half page
    The readers of most newspapers are middle aged and older…if you are looking for buyers under the age of forty, you will find fewer of them by advertising in the newspaper than other media.
    most consumers don’t rely on newspaper as much as they once did
    For those Now Buyers who do read newspapers, the reading of the ads is usually the final step before shopping at your business. Before that, something motivates a prospect to begin the shopping process
    The greatest strength of the newspapers might be their very useful role as a support for your primary vehicle for domination of the media
  • Television
    has been without question the most powerful, most influential medium ever invented
    it used to be-and may still be in some cases-that by the time you paid for the effective production, there was little left for air time. This was especially true if you changed your ads often, which is imperative
    People do not watch television stations, they watch programs. If you are targeting a particular type of consumer, you may have to buy ads on more than one station in several different programs each week to reach your target audience in sufficient numbers
    consistency is the key to equity position and subsequent growth.
    Using TV as a primary vehicle for domination…your ads on the air a minimum of 2 weeks per month every month of the year and reach 70% of your target market with a frequency level of 3
    If you’re using TV as a support for other media…formulate a schedule that will begin at least 3 working days before the events start date.
  • Billboards
    has 2 primary strengths
    can be used effectively to introduce a new product or service to the marketplace with a heavy, short term showing.
    can be used to provide directions to your location, especially if you’re difficult to find.
    the 2 most important words you can put on a billboard are NEXT EXIT
    it’s almost never appropriate to use billboards as a primary vehicle for domination
    if you do find a use for a board make sure you only have one, large graphic and no more than six words with clear large type.
  • Radio
    if you can’t or don’t buy radio for its strengths, you’re just as likely to get poor results on the number one station as you are the lowest rated station
    Like Television, radio is primarily a motivational medium, but can be informational as well, like newspapers
    many radio stations are affordable enough to use as a primary vehicle for domination
    to dominate a station, you have to buy schedules that give you a frequency of 3-5 impressions per week, each week for the first sixteen weeks, and three weeks out of four weeks thereafter.
    if you’re a small advertiser who can’t afford a schedule…but you want some frequency and consistency, run one commercial per hour between midnight and 6am. It will be dirt cheap and you’ll even reach sufficient number s of listeners to grow, although at a slower pace.
    many, if not most radio stations have sufficient number of people in their audience to generate a few prospects per day for almost any business. Once you determine the audience profile and match that with your customer profile, you can determine if a particular station fits your needs
  • Direct Mail
    the main reason for using direct mail is to promote a purchase or an inquiry
    can be very powerful if you target your prospect carefully and if you mail often with some unique offer to get their attention
    repetition and frequency play a vital role. In fact, your prospect will receive over 100 pieces of direct mail in the same week yours arrives
    results increase after several mailings, and especially after personal contact
    you’re almost always better off mailing your own individual piece to your own preferred customers
    like other print vehicles, such as newspaper, direct mail is more effective when you are dominating an electronic medium like television or radio
  • Yellow Pages
    Like newspapers, the yellow pages is primarily an informational rather than motivational medium.
    consumers go to the yellow pages when they need your location or your phone number
    most of the display ad money you spend in the yellow pages is largely wasted, at least in most business categories
    follow this rule of thumb, if the greatest percentage of your business is done by customer contact on the phone, have a display ad. If the greatest percentage of your business is conducted at your place of business, have a listing alone.
    are business owners being led to actually believe that an “A” name will produce more phone calls? If that’s true, every business in America whose name doesn’t begin with several A’s will never get the highly coveted first position in the listings, nor as many phone calls, so they might as well not be in the yellow pages at all!
    don’t ever tell people to look for your ad in the yellow pages. Tell them to look you up in the white pages. There are no competitors’ ads in the white pages

#25 – Stop Spraying and Praying

  • successful local advertising is not a function of reaching large numbers of people. It is a function of convincing the relatively few prospects you can afford to reach to do business with you, and not your competitors!

#26 – Use a proven Scheduling Formula

  • Choose a medium to dominate. For most local advertisers this should be an electronic vehicle – radio or television
    Determine if your chosen medium for domination reaches a sufficient number of your target customer
    Schedule your electronic ads for impact. See Radio above #23.
    Determine the relative affordability of the schedule
    Make a 12 month buy, with a four-month option. If you’re advertising with a dominant, consistent schedule, it doesn’t matter on which days you run your ads!

#29 – Don’t Forget how People Remember

  • repetition is key
    remember, you’re not advertising to a standing army – it’s a passing parade. You must constantly remind the passing parade.

#32 – Let Your Employees in on Your Advertising Plans

  • make them aware of knowing the what’s, when’s and where’s of your advertising
    your employees can then excite the prospects that your advertising is bring in

#33 – Let go of the Branch

  • for the most part, people choose to remain well inside their comfort zones. You may have to let go of your own “branch” before putting what we’ve outlined so far into action

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