It has been said that the average customer needs to have contact with a product or service approximately 7 times before they will seriously consider buying it. Is this true? And if it is how can we make contact with our potential customers?
From my experience it is important that a person feels they can trust a product before they buy it, and that trust can be formed by repetitive contact and can take some time to build – this is where the traditional wisdom of ‘7 contacts’ comes from.
There are three main ways of reaching your potential customers, Advertising, Networking and PR. First let’s look at Advertising.
However when we look more closely it is easy to see that some forms of contact are more likely to build trust than others.
Advertising is wonderfully effective at reaching a large amount of people with the minimum amount of effort on your part. However it does take time for this to pay dividends. How long it takes depends on the type of advertising you use.
To illustrate this let’s look at how a company advertising Yoghurt would make it effective. They could place the advert in a classified section of local magazine; this is likely to make people think that it is a very small company, possibly only just starting up, with not a lot of money to spare. They are unlikely to think it is even possible to buy the yoghurt in their local supermarket so would be less likely to look out for it. The exceptions to this are the people that really want to support small local businesses and if this yoghurt happens to be organic they are likely to get a few orders.
However if they have taken a half or full page advert in a national glossy magazine and have requested to have it placed in either the ‘food’ or the ‘health & wellbeing’ section they are likely to make a much more trustworthy impression straight away. Why? Because the advert is bigger it is first of all more noticeable, it also suggests that the company can afford to advertise, meaning that they are an established company and other people already buy this yoghurt. This is reassuring for potential customers. The placement of the advert can also add gravitas to it, the articles on either side are written by experts and the very fact of being placed amongst such allows the yoghurt to bathe in the reflected glory.
There are other ways of advertising too, one is the ‘advertorial’ when a ‘feature’ on the yoghurt would be inserted in place of a regular advert, although in most glossy magazines this will have the heading of advertising feature so customers will know that this is paid for. However, as an advertorial can contain so much more information that a regular advert, it can be an excellent way of building trust within the customer base.
And magazines are not the only places to advertise, there are also billboards, radio and television. Billboards are likely to be seen by the same people over and over within a short space of time so can be very valuable, however as these customers are usually whizzing past it may be that they have passed it several times before the information has been absorbed. And the more information on this kind of add the less likely it is to be absorbed – it’s much better to put a web address than a phone number on here for people to find out more.
Radio and television adverts both build trust more quickly when they are done well, why? Well this kind of advertising usually relies on actors ‘recommending’ the product, talking about it the way your friends or family would talk about it. Products with a large advertising budget will usually go out of their way to hire celebrities that are already perceived as trustworthy by the public to endorse their product such as Gary Lineker for Walkers Crisps.
The design of the advert will also make a difference to how the product or service is perceived, this does not mean it has to look ultra professional, but it does have to look right to your ideal customer base, if you are trying to attract big business it is best not to use a daisy as your logo, likewise if your ideal customer base is female and creative, having heavy block initials may also have an off putting effect.
Now you know almost everything you need to take into consideration before placing an advert, but there is one last point you need to consider, how many times do you run the advert?
Particularly with print advertising it will take a certain amount of repetition to build trust with your customer base. 1 advert, whether it be full page or classified will not work well. The larger the advert the more noticeably it is so you will find it works more quickly, however in order to not be forgotten you will still need to run it regularly – once you are established look at entering an advert at least once every 3 months to stay in people’s minds. If you are running a classified advert you will need to run it every month for at least six months for it to be effective, and to continue to run it every month for it to stay effective. This can be expensive.
Generally for small businesses or soloprenuers I recommend taking a minimum of a quarter page advert for a 6 month run followed by repeating the advert every other month. Local magazines are much cheaper than national magazines but before you decide which is for you look at where your customers are, if they are national then you should aim to advertise nationally as soon as you can afford it.
I hope this information has been useful – look out for part 2 which covers networking to promote your business!