Marketing 102

It's what you say, not who you say it to that will determine your success in advertising.
Roy Williams / The Wizard of Ads

In the last article, we covered one of the key elements of your marketing efforts, that is, advertising as it relates to media selection and the tracking of results. The best definition of marketing is absolutely every bit of contact your business has with any segment of the public, a circle that begins with your ideas for generating revenue with the goal of amassing a large number of repeat and referral customers. In this article, we will be covering the critical topic of the content of your advertising and in future, we will begin to delve into other marketing issues such as price, public relations, the customer experience, and so on.

A company can advertise in many different ways including price and item, branding or top of mind awareness, or direct response. At Mount Royal Commemorative Services we have made a commitment to a concept called educational marketing. Our ads, primarily on the radio, have three main components. The initial seven seconds is critical if you want to grab the listeners' attention, so they start by saying, "Did you know that..." This can be something along the lines of "Did you know that 1 out of every 2 Canadians chooses cremation over traditional burial" or "Did you know that 71% of consumers pre-plan their funeral arrangements when making a will". The second component of the ad provides more detailed information on the initial question and relates that information to the benefits offered at our company.

The final component of the ad is the call to action. Even though we have taken an educational approach, advertising without a call to action is wasted. Unless you're General Motors or McDonald's the concept of branding is difficult when you are working with a limited budget. Advertising is getting your name out and branding is simply attaching something to your name. What is the call to action? It's simple... call today for your free information kit with no obligation. Repeat the phone number at least twice and then your company name and slogan. For example... "call today for your free information kit with no obligation. 279 PLAN, that's 279 7526. Mount Royal Commemorative Services... tradition... trust... tribute."

Most advertising isn't working like it should and in most cases the blame lies entirely with the advertiser. Most advertisers insist on repetitiously cramming the name of their company, the name of their product, their business hours and their street address into every ad they buy. Such ads do a great job in answering the who, where, what, and when, while failing to answer the all important question, why? Bad advertising is about the advertiser, good advertising is about the customer.

Alvin Eicoff created the direct response television industry. A contrarian, his philosophies shocked the advertising community but what they could not deny was his success. Alvin Eicoff sold product. Lots of product. The phrase "or your money back" is his. 800 numbers came into being, in part, because of Alvin. He was elected to the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame and was cited by Advertising Age as one of the 50 most influential advertising people in television history. His three part approach for creative in advertising was simple...

  • State the problem
  • Explain the solution
  • Demonstrate how your product or service best provides the solution

Here is another method of approaching ad content...

  • Focus on the prospect
  • Emphasize your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Add testimonials
  • Provide a guarantee
  • Offer a premium
  • Set a deadline
  • Tell them what to do

Over the last five years, our educational marketing approach has paid great dividends. We have amassed a database of approximately 5,000 prospects that have contacted us in order to request our free information kit. A portion of these prospects have made their pre-arrangement and the others are part of our CRM (customer relationship management) program that enables us to make many "touch points" which include newsletter, phone calls, and so on. The content of the kit is also very important. Make sure that it is filled with relevant information that will pique their interest so that a follow up meeting can be scheduled. Our counsellors contact all those who receive an information kit within ten days in order to set up an appointment.

The bottom line is that a $ 1,000, 000 dollar ad campaign on television, radio, print, and billboards will fail without the right message. Stay away from price, cliches, and generic death care approaches. According to Butler Research, people want more information on our profession, so provide it to them and watch your business grow in the future.