Marketing : Advertising

Alan Gayle writes a column each month for Natural Stone Specialist magazine explaining some of the methods 0of marketing stone.

Alan Gayle is a sales and marketing consultant specialising in the construction industry. He has worked in the stone sector for more than a decade. Here he offers advice on how to make an impact in the market.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time working on printed adverts for various clients recently, so I thought it’s about time to re-visit advertising in this column. It’s a big subject so we can only scratch the surface but I hope to cover the most important points for you.

In my experience, some people believe in the value of adverts and others don’t. Some people even claim that adverts have no effect on them. But it’s been proven time and again that if an advertisement is repeated often enough the messages can embed itself deep in the human psyche.

A journalist once told me that repetition creates familiarity and familiarity creates trust. In the building industry trust and confidence in your company and its products / services are extremely valuable commodities.

With the advent of so many online marketing options, advertising (for example, printed brochures) has become old news for some people. When it comes to digital media, some industries are more progressive than ours but here in the building industry I believe print advertising is just as beneficial as it ever was.

There are a few key elements that all good advertising should have, with the exception of corporate advertising, which is usually the preserve of brand leaders and multinationals like HSBC, British Airways and FedEx.

As I always advocate, the best place to start is with an objective. What do you want the readers of your advert to do? Order samples? Visit your website? Enquire about a specific product or event?

When I was at college one lecturer was a very strong believer in advertising your promotions. You can really hear this in action when you listen to radio adverts for cars. In this magazine, Stoneasy said the offer of a coffee maker in its ad for orders placed before a certain date doubled the number of visits to its website.

Whatever your objective is, keep it in mind while you plan your advertising campaign.

Ideally, your objective should be to ask for some sort of response from your target customers. This is your call to action (CTA).

A radio advert that ends with ‘Call us for details of the new BMW 3 Series for just £249 per month until 31 July 2016’, is a CTA advertising a time-limited promotion.

As I said last month, a compelling headline is also important. As is an image – if it is the right one – because your advert needs something to draw attention to it. But keep in mind that it’s words, not images, that sell products or services. Don’t go overboard on the images then short change yourself with the text. The two should work hand in hand.

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of creating your advert, re-use it as often as you can. Results are usually far better when you plan a series of smaller adverts over a period of three or six months, rather than a one-off front cover or double page spread. You’ll get a better discount too!

Another thing to keep at the forefront of you mind is the publication you will be advertising in.

Does your target market actually read it? I say this because there are dozens of both online and printed construction industry ‘magazines’ that claim to have huge readerships. They may offer cheap rates but it’s a false economy if your advert isn’t read by the decision-makers you want to reach.

I would suggest you stick to the well-known, high profile publications that have earned a good reputation with your target customers. I’ll go into this in more detail in next month’s article.

Follow these guidelines:

1.         Determine your objective

2.         Create an interesting headline

3.         Always have a CTA

4.         If you use a photograph or graphic make it high quality

5.         Consider frequency - a series of adverts will yield better results than a one-off insertion

6.         Ask for your advert to go on the right-hand page

7.         Carefully consider which publications you place your adverts into.

Alan Gayle has worked in sales and marketing roles in the construction industry since 1993. Following a successful career with some of the UK’s leading building product manufacturers, he has worked in the stone sector more than a decade. He now runs keystone Construction Marketing, a marketing agency specialising in the construction industry. The agency works with building  contractors, subcontractors and building product suppliers to help them increase their sales and improve their margins.