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Friday, March 20, 2009

Newspapers, the Internet and construction marketing

The Daily Record in Dunn, NC, has the highest market "penetration rate" in the country -- more than the population of the community it serves? How is it so successful: "Names, names, names". This is one of the most effective ways for newspapers to remain relevant to readers and advertisers alike.

Newspapers, as we know it, are in trouble. The Internet's nearly-free and hyper-specialized opportunities are turning the conventional printed media's former advantages into big liabilities. The cost of gathering news, printing and distributing information cannot be recovered from advertisers, so formerly solid edifices are crumbling.

However, printed media survives and retains value in these places:
  1. Where you cannot practically access online resources (airlines, especially during take off and landing, are an example);
  2. Where the publication puts you in the news (lots of names, pictures, and local gossip);
  3. Where weekly advertising fliers are a tradition (the preprinted inserts seem to be wasteful, but they still work, possibly because readers are in the habit -- and because they can tear out or quickly organize the "specials" sold that way.)
  4. Where the printed media provides enough real value in relationship development and online resources to serve advertisers effectively (that's us!)
So, should you use the newspaper in your construction marketing?

Yes, if you follow these guidelines:
  • Check with your current/best clients and see what they read, like, follow, and respond to. Take them to lunch, or dinner, or sit with them for a coffee, and listen. You want to adapt your marketing to reach more people like them. (These conversations will provide you with an added opportunity, as well, to gather additional business and direct referrals -- and arrange for testimonial notes.)
  • Look in the local media, and in media in similar but non-competitive markets, for repeat, continuous advertising from service providers offering your product or service. In non-competitive markets, call the advertiser to pick brain. You may find another contractor has ideas worthy of borrowing.
  • Set up an effective measuring/tracking system (possibly a special phone number, web address or the like) so you can tell how your ads are actually working.
  • Call the relevant publications and negotiate the best deal you can -- remember, rate cards are not always carved in stone, and extras can be arranged, possibly some additional advertising space, colour, or free editorial/advertorial coverage.
Then, when you've done all of these things, set a budget large enough for a reliable, regular, and continuous advertising. You won't succeed with a one-shot deal; you need to have patience for the print media to be effective. This is why you must complete the first stages of the research -- otherwise you ma be tempted to quit your advertising just before it becomes truly effective.

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