Monthly Archives: November 2011

Spending your ad dollars wisely — Be an investor

Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 by Tyler

The wise business person spends his advertising dollars like an investor. Investors seek safe and reliable returns on their investments. They know they can’t afford to risk all their advertising dollars in one single shot. And just as importantly, investor-minded advertisers know that consistently repeating your message creates confidence in potential customers. This is the basis for brand image-based advertising.

Like an investment portfolio, your portfolio of advertising tools should be diversified. By using a carefully selected range of advertising tools, you can multiply the effects of your marketing dollars.

Lastly, advertising is most like investing in that the return on your advertising dollars will be measured in moderate increases, not windfalls. Many business people, particularly those who are just starting out, expect much more out of their advertising investment than is even possible. There’s no fast way to an easy buck—the business world has never worked that way with any long term success.

So save the gambling for the office pool and start treating your advertising dollars like an investment—with smart planning and measurable return on investment.

Link Friday: The Wednesday edition

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Alan

We’re wrapping up our short holiday week here at P&B, so we bring you this extra-special early edition of Link Friday. Consider it the gravy on the mashed potatoes of your Thanksgiving week. Or the stuffing. Or whatever your favorite Thanksgiving dish is.

Anyway, now that I’m all hungry, here’s what our online menu featured this week:

  • Intrepid web designer and world traveler Kindra found these interesting advertisements for the Seychelles. I like the historic feel of them, and the photos are great, too.
  • This cool infographic from Foursquare, the location-based social networking site, shows a map illustrating users’ holiday travels in 2010.
  • The folks at the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau have launched a new mobile app for iPhone and Android. The location-aware app includes info photos, videos, social media connections and more.

That’s all for this week. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Where are people talking about your business online?

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2011 by Alan

Like it or not, everybody has an opinion about your business. But do you know what they’re saying online? More importantly, do you know what it takes to manage and improve your online reputation?

According to Google, 97 percent of all users search for local businesses online. That includes people who live near your business as well as first-time visitors to your community. As a business owner, you should know the websites where people are getting their information about your business.

  • YelpYelp allows users to search for and review local businesses, from hotels to restaurants to retailers. The site has more than 50 million unique visitors a month. Each business listing has a five-point rating, reviews from visitors and business information. Users and business owners can update the business listings.
  • TripAdvisorOn TripAdvisor, users can rate everything from hotels to restaurants to flights to vacation rentals. Users (or owners) can share photos of hotels and restaurants they’ve visited and participate in forums. Website services—and a number of services for business owners—are free to users, who provide most of the content.
  • Google Places: Google Places offers recommendations for local businesses, from retail stores to restaurants. Users can find and share places with other Google users, and businesses can claim their business listing online, as well as add photos, videos and special offers. Like the other three sites, paid advertising/listing upgrades also are available.

So, where should you start?

  1. Create your page, or claim it if it exists already. Creating a page is relatively easy, and claiming a created page or listing on any of the sites is just a matter of entering information and responding to an automated phone call.
  2. Make sure the information about your business is complete and up-to-date. People come to these sites looking for information, so the more up-to-date, accurate information on your listing, the better. Are you closed on Sundays? Is there a website you can link users to? This information will give online visitors a better picture of the amenities you have to offer.
  3. Monitor your reviews and respond constructively to customers’ complaints or concerns. This is particularly easy on Yelp, where business owners have the ability to respond to negative reviews privately or publicly correct erroneous information in profiles. Yelp even offers an online guide for business owners looking for a how-to on responding to critical reviews. Likewise, don’t be afraid to interact with users (either positive posters or negative ones) on other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

As a small business owner, it’s impossible to control everything that’s being said about your business. But, by working with these websites, you have an opportunity to shape some of the dialogue.

Link Friday: The late-lunch edition

Posted on Friday, November 18, 2011 by Alan

As in, this is how I spend my lunch break. Well, that and reading reviews of the new “Twilight” movie. (Just kidding.)

Anyway, here are a bunch of things we thought were cool:

  • Who is an average Facebook user? This awesome-looking infographic dives into the typical daily usage on the social media juggernaut.
  • Watch out with those Google+ brand pages, folks: Somebody set up a fake Bank of America brand page this week. (Google caught it and turned the page over to BoA.)
  • Hey, we have a Twitter account! Follow us @pilchbarnet.
  • Thanksgiving travel is expected to hit record levels this year, according to USA Today. (Speaking of sharp-looking infographics, the one with that story’s pretty cool, too.)

Have a good weekend, everybody!

Link Friday: The on-time edition

Posted on Friday, November 11, 2011 by Alan

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. (Well, not until like 5 p.m., when I go home for the weekend.)

Look at all this neat stuff we found this week:

Where do travelers spend their money?

Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Tyler

Travelers spend approximately $12 billion each year in Wisconsin. More than half of these expenditures are spent on shopping and dining—over $7 billion.

According to the state’s most recent report on traveler spending, nearly $4 billion is spent on shopping and $3.4 billion on food each year. The next highest item on the traveler expenditure list is recreation at nearly $3 billion, which consists of an amalgam of items, from gambling and liquor to fishing licenses and event tickets. The remaining segment is lodging at $1.6 billion.

Despite those numbers, there is a lingering belief even within the industry that travel revenue goes to lodging and recreation-related businesses. The reality is that these are the two smallest pieces of the pie.

Although the majority of travel expenditures go to shopping and dining, they are not the reasons travelers give for selecting a travel destination. In a 2003 study, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism found that for people traveling to urban areas, shopping ranked fourth on the list of reasons why they traveled. Dining didn’t even make the top 10. When they looked at people headed to rural destinations, shopping was ranked seventh and dining ninth.

The top reasons people gave for choosing a destination were:

  • visiting friends
  • festivals
  • outdoor activities
  • scenery/natural beauty

People choose their destinations based on fun, recreation and socializing. It is the trails, available leisure activities, festivals and other recreational assets that help travelers make their decisions about traveling to a destination. But it appears that nearly all travelers, no matter their recreational interest, enjoy shopping and dining when on vacation.

When you consider how people live today, this makes sense. Shopping and dining are entertainment for many people. When people aren’t traveling, they spend much of their leisure time shopping and dining. There is a joke in Wisconsin that when people aren’t eating, they are busy talking about where they’re going to eat next. The same goes for shopping: think of how much of our conversation time and mental effort goes into deciding what to buy and where to buy it.

What does this all mean? For businesses—particularly restaurants and retailers—it means that you should be aware that a good number of your customers are probably people who have come to your area to visit friends, use the trails, enjoy the scenery and attend events. To better serve the needs of these customers, you might consider offering WiFi and visitor guides. Your staff should be ready to give basic driving directions and suggestions about places to visit in the area. Most importantly, know that visiting your dining or retail establishment is an extremely important part of their travel experience.

Link Friday: The about-as-late-as-last-week edition

Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 by Alan

Like that kid in the Encylopedia Britannica commercial from the early ’90s, I’m all about getting Friday links in by the skin of my teeth. (Also, I really like that there used to be encyclopedia ads on television.)

Anyway, here’s what caught our fancy this week:

  • PR Daily outlines 12 annoying social media practices. I hope I haven’t been guilty of any of these…
  • Travel + Leisure, one of my favorite publications, profiled the world’s top geek hotels. Did you know that you can stay in Luke Skywalker’s house? (I swear, it’s like they’re directly targeting me with these kinds of stories.)
  • Want to travel the world but don’t have the money? SideTour brings the experience of travel to you. It’s only available in New York City right now, but they plan to expand.

That’s all for us. Have a good weekend, everybody!


Consistency in advertising: Don’t be a gambler

Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 by Tyler

Consistency should be the bedrock of any effective advertising campaign. Without consistency, no advertising campaign can be effective. One brilliant, bold, full-page ad that appears once in a magazine is worth far less than a smaller ad running with more frequency. Both alternatives cost the same, but the small ad that is run every month will give you much more impact for your marketing dollar.

Why isn’t it a good idea to run one big ad? Because that would be spending your advertising dollars like a gambler. No advertising vehicle—television, radio, print, cable, internet—performs 100% all the time. In the above magazine ad example, there are many elements out of your control:

  • What if the cover of the magazine isn’t particularly interesting the month the ad runs and no one bothers to pick the magazine up off the newsstand—or even the coffee table?
  • What if there’s something happening in the world that temporarily takes readers’ attention away from magazines for that issue period—high-profile trial in the news, a really nice stretch of weather, football playoffs, etc.?
  • What if your beautiful, high production, full-page ad ends up getting hidden by a special insert that gets spot-glued right over it?

Of course, you might just end up having a lot of people see your ad. But by advertising more often with a smaller ad, you can be assured that your message will get across most of the time.