A Pile of Overpriced Marketing on My Lawn

Marketing in Billings usually has a lot of noise attached to it.  But I’m not sure if a thud is really the sound you want associated with your marketing.

I had just made a short walk to my mailbox.  It is not in front of the house, instead its one of those group boxes on the corner.  I was just walking into the garage when I heard it “plop” loudly behind me.

Yellow Plastic Marketing Mess

Turning, I saw it.  A big plastic bag with a yellow book inside it lying on my grass.  I’m sure  inside the book is filled with ads and Billings marketing materials.  I won’t ever know.

Like most people in Billings, I won’t even open the plastic to get to the book. I’d put it in the dumpster but it strikes me its a perfectly good waste of paper and landfill space.

Even phone directories own research tells you they are not effective.  Look at this graph.

Billings marketing in phone directories










Even the directories own research is showing more people find businesses online than in the phone directory.  While the directories still have their marketing supporters in Billings, their cost is astronomical compared to the other media listed on the chart.

For example, it is well known Billings is one of the least expensive radio markets in the state.  Competition is one big reason.

Print Marketing Works With Older Audiences

It is also not surprising to note the three biggest complimentary media to directories are also print based.  A higher percentage of print is consumed by older audiences.  A chart like this is more of a reflection of demographic targeting than it is a reflection of the media value.

Yet, directory companies continue to sell and business owners continue to over spent on a medium whose best day is when it plops in the driveway.

I’m just glad it missed the flowers.

Print Dead in Billings Marketing! Long Live Print!

Billings marketing print good or badIn markets like ours, there is a lot of focus on print media.  Even people not in the print business see it as something they must have or read most every day.  The reality is the local Billings newspaper has less readership today than it had yesterday. Based on Audit Bureau of Circulation stats I have seen, only slightly over 27,000 people or about 15% of Yellowstone County’s population actually get the paper.

Forbes.com printed a great article on the advantages and disadvantages of print as an advertising medium.  Here are some of their points.

Print Advantages in Billings Marketing

Tangibility – A print piece is a physical thing. Magazines and newspapers can stay in houses or offices for months or years, while Internet ads can disappear into cyber space instantaneously.

Credibility – There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. The saturation of popups and banner ads on the web can be overwhelming and the fear of spam and viruses is enough make people weary of clicking. There is no imminent danger in a print ad.

Branding – Print ads are excellent for solidifying your brand identity. Your ads should have a consistent aesthetic in terms of fonts, colors and types of images to establish brand recognition.

Target Marketing – Placing ads in publications such as specialty magazines can effectively reach niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.

More Engaging – Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit. A study shows that people read digital screen text 20% – 30% slower than printed paper. (Alshaali & Varshney, 2005)

Less Print Ads – With more and more businesses relying solely on the Internet for their advertising needs, the decline of print publication can actually be used as a marketing advantage. The publications are less crowded, allowing more room for your ad to shine, and possibly even cheaper prices for that ad space.

QR Codes – Placing QR codes on printed pieces is an excellent way to bridge the gap between print and web. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code will take you to a homepage or a special offer page that lives on the web.

It is interesting to note Forbes.com attempts to defend print are more about what it is not (we don’t have viruses, people read us differently, we don’t have as many ads) versus what it is (a tangible product you can hold, and a declining way of advertising a business.)

Print has a place in Billings marketing.

As Forbes.com said,

The best way to market your business is to utilize as many channels as possible to reach every corner of your target demographic; this should not exclude print.

Print should no longer be considered a must have in terms of your Billings marketing campaigns.  The decline in readership and movement to other sources for information is rapidly driving the print business away.

How much you use and how you use it is part of a well planning Billings marketing strategy.  Getting professional help to develop and execute that strategy will prevent you from overspending on print, web, or any other form of media.

Look for someone who is focused on your top line when you look for a Billings marketing company.

What’s a USP? And Do I Have One?

Billings marketing USP

A USP, just not the right kind

Your Billings marketing plan starts with your USP.  Darcy Juarez from the Glaser Kennedy Group, had a great post about USP–Unique Selling Proposition.  Having a strong USP is literally the difference between being successful and watching your business die.  It is such a universal need, I thought I would repeat a bit of Darcy’s post here.

Billings Marketing and Your USP

Developing a clear, strong and compelling USP that is concise, differentiates you and is easy to understand is a crucial first step.

But here’s the thing, some businesses think they have a USP, but what they really have is a catchy slogan.

They don’t quite understand the goal of a USP.

For example, Diesel Jeans uses “Be Stupid”.  It’s concise, it’s clear and it’s catchy. But I wouldn’t define that as compelling. It differentiates, however is “be stupid” something that is a benefit to the customer?

The result is a confusing message, one that isn’t really unique or one that doesn’t offer a clear benefit to the user.

How does your business USP stack up?  Many businesses I work with in building their Billings marketing plans have a real problem with their USP.  Being different is fine.  Being different in the ways that matter to the consumer is even better.

Real estate agents and brokers are my favorite examples of companies with no earthly idea of their USP.  One agent or broker is pretty much exactly like every other agent and broker.  Yet they spend a huge amount of money on fancy graphics and bus benches to try and convince you there is a difference.

Call 911 for USP Help

How do you know if your USP needs help? Here are some signs that you might need to work on your USP.

1)      Your business is often commoditized. (think about that in terms of real estate agents)

2)      You find yourself constantly competing on price.

3)      Your employees or customers can’t easily explain what you do.

4)      You lack differentiation from your competitors.

5)      There isn’t a reason to respond NOW.

The great part of building Billings marketing plans is the limited amount of competition.  There are a lot of people who try and be all things to the market, but specialists can win if they take the time to develop a great USP.

Billings Marketing USP Help

Sometimes its hard to see the goal when you are in the middle of the fight.  Getting support from professionals who have built numerous Billings marketing plans to help your business is a great way to start.  Much of the type of consultative help you can get with the USP as part of your Billings marketing plan can be at low or no cost too.