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GRATIS: Free Advertising Advice to One and All. [And It’s Really Good Too!]

The Buzz About Landing Pages

“We advertise on the internet – but sales are still a bit dull… Will landing pages help?
A question from MB, Harmony, NC

Think of your website as a business storefront. Your best deals should be in the window of your business, right? Are they?

Or do visitors have to enter the store and shop around till they find the ON SALE NOW section? A landing page- when created correctly – takes the visitor directly to the enticing sales pitch designed to target them- without their having to go through your “About Us”, “Services”, “Location” etc. sections first.

You will need a GRAB ‘EM FAST headline that honestly makes them think, saying “wha?” to themselves- or better yet, aloud.

The visitor who clicks will also expect a serious payoff for obeying your call to action. A 10% discount won’t do. Go BOLD with your reward in the way of savings or advantages for doing as you ask. You will be repaid with sales and social, word-of-mouse advertising.

Much like a print ad created for a specific target, you can create a landing page that looks nothing like your site if you wish – whatever it takes to get noticed and convert that lead. This makes it a smart money-and-time-savvy-way to find out what is working, as well as decide whether or not a new look and feel for your site and/or other marketing tools might be worth the investment.

Westokes is happy to make all these advertising and communication tools work together brilliantly for you. Just keep in mind landing pages rock if the visitor feels the exchange for his or her time in clicking is really worth it. Hope this helps!

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Why Buying Media Is Like My Mom’s ‘76 Sock Purchase

“We have an agency promising to reduce the cost of our current Broadcast Media by 15-25%- how?”
A question from TSJ, Triad NC

One word. Rotators. Vertical and horizontal broad rotators are cheaper than buying a specific spot in a specific timeslot. Vertical rotation runs throughout the day – say 6 a.m. to 12 midnight. Horizontal rotation runs weekly. A Broad rotator runs at a very low rate in a specific day, daypart, or as a bonus spot. They are great- but cannot be relied upon as more than 25% of your schedule.

It sounds like this agency is selling you on their ability to get the cheapest rates and negotiating the lowest “cost-per-point” as their measure of a successful media buy. CPP is important but so are ratings regarding your real buyers. Rotator-only schedules work to a degree for stores like Target, Wal-Mart, businesses that sell a bit of everything and have 500 thousand to Millions to spend monthly. Even these stores know to buy specific timeslots though for specific products/genders/ etc.

If if you sell cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s; banking services, fine art etc., you are looking for a specific target audience per brand, per model, per banking service, per print or price point for an original painting. What really matters is reaching this more precise person with your message – and rotators simply do not do this effectively. [This week I saw a local Ford Truck ad running during “The Real Housewives of Atlanta’. Unless this was a freebie it was a sad waste of money.]

I think of it like this: I remember my wonderful Mother buying a huge bag of socks from a store called Towel Town in Lexington, NC when we were kids. It looked like a great deal- extremely cheap and there were several kid’s sizes for my brother and me…. But some had holes, a few of the bands of color didn’t quite match up, some matched but had more tiny stripes than others, and still other socks were stretched out at just the one toe. Weird… But we ended up with maybe 18 wearable pairs out of 200 socks. [Now that I write this it sounds like a David Sedaris diary entry - though I don’t think there was a Towel Town in Raleigh...]

Point is- if my client is paying for 100 ads, I’d better see 100 correctly-targeted audiences these ads are hitting when I see the schedule. Not 18 out of 100. And Mom decided to buy Hanes. You really do get what you pay for.

Westokes Advertising buys a combination of rotators [that we have thrown in for 68 cents to $5 - and most rotators are added for free to our schedules because stations know we know rotator spots do not run if another buyer is willing to pay a few cents more for that timeslot] along with specific programming, to achieve the reach and frequency we know from experience works best for our clients. It takes strategic thinking, planning and true knowledge of our client’s target audience or multiple audiences- to spell success. This makes a rotator-only schedule, regardless of price — too expensive.

Unless, of course- we find a client who wants to sell everything to everyone at any price.

On that point, we’ll keep you posted.

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Working With Clients

Answering a question from A New Law Firm, High Point, NC

If you are a new or expanding business, congratulations!  You have the guts to do what you hopefully love in what many are calling The New US Economy.  It’s no secret that “uncertainty” has been the private and corporate watchword since 2009. Companies- especially new enterprises, need to place themselves in a position to brand and grow- while at the same time protect their finances against a potential downturn.
Westokes believes in helping your business at every point.  Just today we discussed the possibilities of starting small with a new logo and moving consistently toward a new website and future marketing for a budding new law practice in High Point, NC.
Why go out on a limb to work out a payment plan for a client?  If the client shows that they value our work and pay upfront for any hard costs such as stock photography, business card production and shipping, media purchases and the like- we are willing to work with them on design cost.  We feel every business deserves great design if they understand Westokes’ value to their company. Paying an Engagement Fee, which is half of the low end of the project estimate, is a good faith policy we instituted long ago. It allows the client to know we are working diligently for them, and it let’s Westokes know the client is serious about completing the project. The balance is due upon the completion of the project. For over 16 years we’ve found it to be a win-win for everyone!

If you are a new or expanding business, congratulations!  You have the guts to do what you hopefully love in what many are calling The New US Economy.  It’s no secret that “uncertainty” has been the private and corporate watchword since 2009. Companies- especially new enterprises, need to place themselves in a position to brand and grow- while at the same time protect their finances against a potential downturn.

Westokes believes in helping your business at every point.  Just today we discussed the possibilities of starting small with a new logo and moving consistently toward a new website and future marketing for a budding new law practice in High Point, NC.

Why go out on a limb to work out a payment plan for a client?  If the client shows that they value our work and pay upfront for any hard costs such as stock photography, business card production and shipping, media purchases and the like- we are willing to work with them on design cost.  We feel every business deserves great design if they understand Westokes’ value to their company. Paying an Engagement Fee, which is half of the low end of the project estimate, is a good faith policy we instituted long ago. It allows the client to know we are working diligently for them, and it let’s Westokes know the client is serious about completing the project. The balance is due upon the completion of the project. For over 16 years we’ve found it to be a win-win for everyone!

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Clever vs. Smart Advertising

Sketchers Returns To “The Big Game”

Just a reminder that while we agency types love to be clever- clever ads don’t have to cost the client an arm and a leg.  So many uber-expensive ads go unremembered for their brand, touted only for their cool idea.  The ‘Big Game” coming up is the perfect example.
This reminder is from ADAGE- Sketchers had a new product launch last year that caused sales to soar 30%!  The message and the spokesperson were the key- smart ideas, not fiddle-playing beavers or herding cats…  Those are fun to watch [and my personal reason for watching the game at all] but recall on the actual brand advertised is usually low.
http://adage.com/superbowl/article?article_id=148482

Just a reminder that while we agency types love to be clever- clever ads don’t have to cost the client an arm and a leg.  So many uber-expensive ads go unremembered for their brand, touted only for their cool idea.  The ‘Big Game” coming up is the perfect example.

This reminder is from ADAGE- Sketchers had a new product launch last year that caused sales to soar 30%!  The message and the spokesperson were the key- smart ideas, not fiddle-playing beavers or herding cats…  Those are fun to watch [and my personal reason for watching the game at all] but recall on the actual brand advertised is usually low.

http://adage.com/superbowl/article?article_id=148482

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Listening To Your Receptionist

Reflecting On a Call To a Greensboro Firm

Okay- this is part marketing and part management- but it’s amazing how much the person ‘on the front line’ knows about your business.  I called a local company today to tell them how much I loved their website- something I do when I find the time to tout any marketing effort that stands out.  As with most of these calls, the recipient was thrilled to hear a compliment and told me so much about this firm’s clients and the firm’s needs in just a few moments.  The rest of their marketing efforts don’t reflect the warmth and simplicity I found so inviting in their site. I found out why- the responsibility for this is placed on the shoulders of a member of the staff already overwhelmed.  I WILL be calling them.
But my point is, those without specialized titles ending in O are seldom asked what they think about their company’s marketing.  Receptionists and assistants are often the first folks a company’s potential customer/client speaks with.  They pick up on a lot of positive and negative messages they may be afraid to share unless they feel invited to do so.
I’ll get off the soapbox now, but I listen to my receptionist every day.  It’s easy because we’re small- most of the time she’s me!

Okay- this is part marketing and part management- but it’s amazing how much the person ‘on the front line’ knows about your business.  I called a local company today to tell them how much I loved their website- something I do when I find the time to tout any marketing effort that stands out.  As with most of these calls, the recipient was thrilled to hear a compliment and told me so much about this firm’s clients and the firm’s needs in just a few moments.  The rest of their marketing efforts don’t reflect the warmth and simplicity I found so inviting in their site. I found out why- the responsibility for this is placed on the shoulders of a member of the staff already overwhelmed.  I WILL be calling them.

But my point is, those without specialized titles ending in O are seldom asked what they think about their company’s marketing.  Receptionists and assistants are often the first folks a company’s potential customer/client speaks with.  They pick up on a lot of positive and negative messages they may be afraid to share unless they feel invited to do so.

I’ll get off the soapbox now, but I listen to my receptionist every day.  It’s easy because we’re small- most of the time she’s me!

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How To Calculate Your Ad Budget

Answering a question from countless businesses old & new

Most business owners know that a percentage of their past and projected sales should be secured for advertising.  In ‘The New Economy” I tell my clients to look at their profits from the last two quarters of 2010 to determine their first two quarters of 2011. I advise clients to budget as much as they feel comfortable budgeting. Meaning, “do not shrink back to the point you know full well you aren’t advertising enough- but do not rack up mammoth debt just to up your media spending.”
Few businesses remember to calculate the correct amount to spend on their Creative.  I’ve learned from client’s who have used bland language and graphics in the past, that you can offer the wrong message a MILLION times a month – even to the right people- and they still won’t do business with you.  So often a client will tell me that TV, or radio, or print, or internet simply will not work for them.  However, when they admit that they have given this medium 6 weeks to deliver, and they show me an ad that has no call-to-action and no real reason to truly remember anything about their product or service or location…  We together realize the medium has not been tested in a way that honestly proves anything.
With the right target audience, message, creative delivery, medium, reach and frequency- advertising works, period.  So in this upcoming year, find out what makes you different from your competition [Westokes would be happy to help] and do as much advertising as you can afford to do.  To figure out your actual budget numbers, here is a helpful tool from one of my favorite enterprises, The Wizards of Ad:
http://adbudgetcalculator.com
May your 2011 be full of peace & love & health, fun & creativity… caring & sharing with all those around you…

Most business owners know that a percentage of their past and projected sales should be secured for advertising.  In ‘The New Economy” I tell my clients to look at their profits from the last two quarters of 2010 to determine their first two quarters of 2011. I advise clients to budget as much as they feel comfortable budgeting. Meaning, “do not shrink back to the point you know full well you aren’t advertising enough- but do not rack up mammoth debt just to up your media spending.”

Few businesses remember to calculate the correct amount to spend on their Creative.  I’ve learned from client’s who have used bland language and graphics in the past, that you can offer the wrong message a MILLION times a month – even to the right people- and they still won’t do business with you.  So often a client will tell me that TV, or radio, or print, or internet simply will not work for them.  However, when they admit that they have given this medium 6 weeks to deliver, and they show me an ad that has no call-to-action and no real reason to truly remember anything about their product or service or location…  We together realize the medium has not been tested in a way that honestly proves anything.

With the right target audience, message, creative delivery, medium, reach and frequency- advertising works, period.  So in this upcoming year, find out what makes you different from your competition [Westokes would be happy to help] and do as much advertising as you can afford to do.  To figure out your actual budget numbers, here is a helpful tool from one of my favorite enterprises, The Wizards of Ad:

http://adbudgetcalculator.com

May your 2011 be full of peace & love & health, fun & creativity… caring & sharing with all those around you…

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Ummm… Does Anyone Else See A Problem Here?

OpenXDualBladeUniversalPackageOp-1Mike saw this while Christmas shopping and mentioned it to me during a discussion about BNET’s 10 Worst Brand Blunders of 2009. User friendly? Maybe it’s just late in the day but I couldn’t stop laughing. Clearly they didn’t call us before making this packaging choice.

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Do People Really Know How Awesome Your Company Is? (Or a Lesson From Charlotte’s Web)

Answering a question from SM, Winston-Salem, NC

OKAY, I’m a sap.  I found myself watching Charlotte’s Web on HBO and could NOT change the channel.  That Dakota Fanning is too cute and a great little actress [Trapped 2002 –age 8/amazing]. They managed to give Charlotte a fascinatingly sweet spider face and with the voice of Julia Roberts- the little arachnid was quite lovely, actually. And Wilber -never has a piggy been more adorable. But I digress.

At one point in the movie Wilber tells Charlotte that she has worked a miracle, to which Charlotte A. Cavatica replies, “No, my webs were no miracle, Wilbur. I was only describing what I saw. The miracle is you.”

It reminded me of the “big reveal” days when a client sees their new logo options/ads/web site ideas for the first time.  For me, there is nothing like seeing a client’s face light up with pride at seeing the their company shine like it should have all along.  They gush about how we created a miraculous look or fantabulous makeover. Truth is, like Charlotte — we just see their potential and bring it out.

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My Brother-In-Law Can Build My Web Site — Why Should I Go Pro?

Answering a question from FC, Greensboro, NC

Hmmm… We get this one a LOT.  And the answer is simple.  If your brother-in-law can build a unique site for your company that you will be truly proud of, one that is easy to navigate and employs all the best SEO great copywriting has to offer— you certainly should hire him to do it. Using a template or similar form of just getting something up there usually ends up costing you as much or more in the long run.  Why not hire a pro now?  Westokes believes in building sites that show you off the way you really want to look. We are constantly amazed at the folks who spend tons on cashola their actual store but scrimp on the place most people check out first these days.  If you can’t get their interest online it isn’t going to drive sales and they aren’t likely to DRIVE to shop with you either.

You need a site that will grow with your company. Most simple, [let’s be honest here, cheap] alternatives end up frustrating the owner of the site because they can’t get updates when and in the way they really want and need them. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  We’ve had tons of clients tell us they sent money to an online web builder who gladly cashed the check and then, ummm… Disappeared off the face of the internet planet and ummmm… “We’re sorry, the number you have dialed is not in service …” You get the sad picture. Go pro from the start for a solid, smarter, more savvy solution.

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