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We too spend a small fortune,
We have just abandoned our new move campaign after three years of minimal response.
Our best returns are with mailings to our own customer base, followed by a full color flyer insert in our local paper.
Yellow pages advertising results are very sketchy with results, given the high costs involved.
We can measure the results of this because we have our second line listed and staff is counting the amount of calls coming in.
The best forms of advertising are Location, followed by customer referral.
When the Yellow page lady show up to upgrade their ad as they always do I told to watch my lips as I was only saying this once " FREE LISTING" . After 2 hours of sales pitch , I said it again and you'd of thought I had killed her new puppie and she skulked out of the shop. I've never looked back. Itracked the ad for about a year and the effectiveness was way down. The first few years, yeah, good deal , but the curve starts down after a while.
The Yellow Pages has worked extemely well for us. About 75% of our customers saw us while there fingers were doing the walking. We don't have a huge ad (actually it's only a 3 line text with a box and a line in red type) but we are in 3 books because our location is right on the border.
We did Val Pak a couple of years ago, it had an OK return, but the customers that we got from that would only come in when they had a coupon. They would call and ask when the next one was coming out. So for the cost of the mailing and the discount we gave out we decided it wasn't worth it.
We do twice yearly mailings to our customer base (I know it should be 4 times a year) and found that a Holiday card at Christmas had a great response. We hand signed all of the Seasons Greetings, our customers were thrilled that we thought of them. They think of us as their friends.
We are going to sponser a local water color artist at the end of the month. Our hopes are to increase traffic in our shop which is primarily custom framing. Won't know till it happens.
Ruth-Your success with yellow pages is a testimonial that should be used by the Yellow Pages. We, unfortunately, had had no where near the success you've had. How do you measure that 75%? I'm not questioning your accuracy, but that's a startling figure. My question is your location so remote that very few of your clients see your store?
I'll share my yellow page horror story with any interested. We, for years, had a 1/4 page ad. One year one of the stores number was listed incorrectly. As a concession, the phone company forwarded all calls from that number to the correct number. The catch was, being two separate entities, the YP had to pay for the service, but was billed to me. Each call was listed on that bill that was forwarded. What a shock! We had a remarkably small number of calls forwarded(25-30)a month. Those represented folks that probably didn't knoiw about us coupled with those that did know us, but had to look up the number. Nowhere near the driving force that the YP ad sellers would tell you.
My suggestion? Unless you have a real validating method of tracking(like this one), I think we often kid ourselves about the efficacy of these ads. For us, we pocket the $700-800 a month that the ads used to cost, and now have a small block ad.
Ruth-as an aside, as a fellow Alum of the Wild Bunch, are you going to renew with FYA, and did you ever have much success? I still get the e-zines, and it looks like same old, same old
[This message has been edited by Bob Carter (edited May 05, 2001).]
, about 75% of our new customers since we moved a year ago are from yellow pages. I really didn't mean to mislead anyone. I am amazed at the amount of phone quotes and actual follow up by customers, not to say they all come in. We are not a BIG shop and being fairly new (5 years) are still building a solid customer base. Lifesaver tracks our sales. Our ad like I said is small, less than $150 per month. We are in the Metro Detroit area so we are far from remote
. We had such a good response that we put our small ad (I looked it up) 4 lines 2 in red type and boxed in, in another book, as long as it is bringing them in we will keep the ads.
On the Wild Bunch Front: FYA.com, we never had any orders from the website. The free poster promo generated enuf business to offset the charge, but we still have several oversized prints here that were never picked up. Unfortunately we signed up for 2 years (only one zip code). The computer offset the second year so we are calling it a wash. We WON'T be signing up again.
The only advertising I do is a nice ad in the Yellow Pages for about $245.00 a month. Over the years, I've tried just about everything, T.V., newspaper, local paper. The cost didn't justify the results. I used Val-Pak early on to get people in my door, but I haven't done that in years, since I don't discount. I contend that word-of-mouth has been my best advertising, and it's free. I also think location has alot to do with getting customers in the door. We are two doors down from Dunkin'Donuts. They are a people magnet.
We do Billboards, Yellow Pages and Direct Mail and these three key items represent a solid 6% of our annual sales.
Today - we do less with Radio and Newspapers than we have in the past. We dropped Discount Coupon vendors 3 years ago
We are established (23 years), sit next to an Indian Restaurant, and a Decorating Center. We are within 50 feet of a Korean and Mexican Restaurants as well. We are located on a street with the third highest traffic volume in the city.
Despite this, we feel that it is important to maintain a marketing presence. You don't see McDonald's or Coca-Cola stop advertising because they're established!?
John is absolutely right about Coke and McDonald's advertising. The point that is being lost is that they hire high powered professional advertising firms to affect their goals. They used well tailored mediums with very specific targeted campaigns. Yet, not all of those are very effective. None of us has a prayer of being able to even approach that level.
Compare that to our trade. I think most advertising dollars most of us spend are ego-driven and very difficult to measure. I'm not being mean spirited here, but from Ruth's 75% to John's 6%, I think we are guessing.
My suggestion is when preparing an effective marketing plan, I would recommend establishing those advertising dollars and putting that amount towards paying higher rents to get a better location. Remember that old adage "Advertising, advertising, oh that's right. It's location, location, well you get my drift. Imagine spending $2000-$3000 on a better location than on advertising. And if you are spending less, I don't know if you can get much done with such a small budget.
I understand not everyone can pick up and move that easily. But, I hate to see a discussion about spending money on advertising when I just think most of it is wasted.
But, if you are happy with your ad campaigns or marketing plans, please share those success stories with the rest of us. I'm certainly not beyond changing my views for any great program
[This message has been edited by Bob Carter (edited May 06, 2001).]
We are currently planning our advertising and marketing campaign for the next 12 months. Being that every salesperson for the different forms of advertising has their own biased statistics, we decided to instead ask our colleagues in the city what worked for them. Most of them were very helpful. They advised us about what worked and what didn't with yellow pages advertising and direct mail.
We plan on doing a direct mail-out every three months as well as our same old bread and butter methods. Our yellow page ad will be on the smaller side, but very eye-catching. I saw a thread here a while back by someone called the guru and he had some valid points about ad content.
Over-all, your marketing campaign should be very specific and well planned. Unadressed mail has been shown to be the least effective while addressed mail with a great promotion targeted to the kind of people that patronize your gallery should result in some good revenue.
We found that our sales reps had some good advice as well. I was recently at a seminar where the speaker suggested spending a percentage of last year's gross sales.
He stressed the idea of not advertising a sale, but advertising a "promotion". The idea was not to ever give discounts.
Lisa Kozokowsky C.G.A.H.
Interesting no one has brought up TV, Radio, or Internet E-mail advertising. Since my E-mail address is on all correspondance and business cards, I am seeing a surge in E-mail advertising traffic business to business. We are starting to ask customers for e-mail addresses.
We tried radio a few years back with very limited success. The response was from existing customers reconfirming what they already knew about us. We tried TV advertising with limited success. It was great for our Egos, fun to do, and generated a "buzz" among family and friends because of the novelty of our approach. But I can't say it was worth the money invested. I have also talked to local groups, with strong success.
For us, our best approach has been First, existing customer mailing list(and referrals), second, RSVP post card service we utilize 2x per year, and third Yellow Pages. BUT, I am always looking for another approach and always trying to build "good will" in the community.
My father, who has been in retail what seems an eternity, once said; There isn't one answer, rather it is the cumulation of all the little things you do. He is right, oftentimes the advertising with the greatest impact was the result of a small gesture.
As you may, or not know... we just reopened our store. We keep our old phone number active while we were out of business, and now it gives the new phone number. (Compliments of the phone company.)
We have written letters, and hand addressed the envelopes, for most of our old framing customers, and we have sent out E-Mail letters. Both are bringing in customers... not as fast as we would like, but they are coming in.
In my mind, word of mouth is the best advertisment, followed by the phone books. Then the letters and E-Mail. The last would be advertising in coupon books, newspapers, or anything on the internet.
The only time someone says they found us on the internet is because they were looking in the "Yellow pages" on line. That does not count as being internet advertisement, as it comes with the yellow pages ad.
"You want it when?!?!?"
I kind of in the same boat as the rest of you all. I'm about to start stirring up business for my own shop and I am thinking a lot on how to get my name out.
I'm starting with a web based gallery and frame shop and searching for a land based site in the meanwhile.
From what I have read about advertisement, the only way to make it work is by constant coverage. T.V., radio, and print only work if you blanket the market for a few months at a time. I have read that the average consumer will not act an a new ad unless they have seen it at least three times or more. A single ad run every other month is not the best way to advertise. They say you have to run an ad for a few months in a row to get any results from the ad.
Major companies use this a lot. You may have noticed the marketing blitz from Burger King..."The Whopper Says."
Anyway, this is all pointless since we could retire on what they spend in advertisement.
The best thing I can think of is finding a local small newspaper and sticking with them year round. Every medium to large city has some sort of art and night life mag. Their rates are usually pretty resonable.
Second, is having a web site with a info about your shop and how to get there. Your site is really not meant to draw consumers but rather inform them 24 hours a day.
Your site is useless unless you have your URL address on everything you use to advertise (i.e. business cards, invoices, letterheads, storefront window, company car or truck, and every ad you run.) If you have someone build you a web site, ask them to give you a list of other sites they have built in the past. Try and find them through your search engine. If you can't find any of them, go to another designer. Once a site is built, it has to be submitted to all the search engines manually or you'll have to wait until the search engine crawlers find it themselves. You also have to go back and resubmit every once and a while to make sure your site is high on the list.
Also make sure you have best discribed your site to the designer so they can better describe your site to the search engines.
The net uses a tag called a (meta) tag to find sites when a surfer searches for something. This is the most important part of a web page since these tags and your title will determine how high up on the search list you will be.
With millions of sites out there, you don't want to be on the bottom.
For more info on search engines and meta tags, check out a site called WEBMONKEY.COM.
It is really cool site for web designers and covers everything I've covered in more detail.
The site I'm working on will have a gallery for local artists and photographers. My main goal is really just to build a bond between me and the art community, and if something sells, I get 40 percent of the cut. NOT BAD.
I also want a small store for corporate accounts to shop at. Just a few document size metal and wood frames. Just some examples they can print out and show to their boss without even leaving the office.
I want the same thing for mirrors and expensive ready-mades. Just enough items to make cosumers want to come into the shop.
Anyway, just thought I'd bounce some thoughts of mine off everyone.
Good luck and may your ads give you wealth and peace.
San Antonio, Texas
If you don't take care of your tools, they won't take care of you.
Rick I don't want to sound like I am raining on your parade, I really respect people who dream and act upon those dreams, but...
The effectiveness of the internet for a frame shop so far seems limited at best. To set up shop on the internet without the benefit of a brick and mortar store seems risky. The drawbacks to framing exclusively via the internet are too numerous to mention on this chat line. The computer hardware limitations, the problems of reaching a customer base with "billions" of websites, advertising expenses etc have proven to be too cumbersome for us to rely upon exclusively so far. To date we use it as an information platform to educate our existing and potential customers. To date the complaints from customers boil down to "it isn't touchy/feely enough." If you want to talk at length and bounce ideas off, feel free to call me or drop an e-mail. Again, don't want to seem critical, just some observations to share. Best of luck!