The reading level for this article is All Levels
I decided to try something a little different and illustrate the marketing challenges of a small business. I’m using one of my clients, PrescottWeddings.com.
PWC is an online resource guide for couples planning their weddings. Along with a ton of information for brides and grooms, the site includes a resource guide where local businesses can advertise their products and services.
We launched PWC in November 2001. Like many start-up businesses, PWC didn’t have much money for marketing. Yet we had two major challenges (three counting the limited budget):
1. PWC had to attract two kinds of target markets to the site — advertisers and couples — essentially at the same time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to appeal to each group even though one was dependent on the other — advertisers wanted brides and grooms logging onto the site, and brides and grooms wanted a complete resource center.
2. Several bridal print publications had come and gone in
Armed with those challenges, we went to work. Now, just over two years later, PWC enjoys well over 40,000 hits a month and has increased its advertising base by over 600%. On top of that, PWC is well on its way to establishing a reliable brand in not just
So how did we do it? A great Web site with great content plus three main marketing strategies:
1) Using print to drive traffic online
2) Thinking small
3) Frequency, frequency, frequency
I’ll cover number two and three in the next two articles. Today we’ll talk about number one: Using print to drive traffic online.
The cornerstone of PWC’s marketing program has been print advertising, more specifically monthly advertising in the local newspaper. Print advertising is an excellent choice for many businesses — from small to large. In fact, it’s not uncommon for small and medium-sized businesses to build their advertising program around print.
The strength of print advertising is its flexibility. Print publications come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can appeal to a broad readership or a narrow one. They can be published every day or once a year. This variety gives you a lot of flexibility in fitting print advertising into your campaigns.
You can also track print to a certain extent (coupons in newspapers for example). Print is physical, allowing your customers to carry something around with them.
However, print’s weakness is also its strength. It’s a visual medium only, so it requires more effort and interaction from your audience to make an impact (they need to stop and read it).
In the case of PWC, we chose monthly advertising in the local paper as the foundation of our marketing program. We decided upon the local newspaper because it has the broadest reach.
If you live in a big city, the local newspaper may not be practical because of cost. In that case, you may want to try a niche newspaper or magazine, like a business or lifestyle journal, or maybe a regionalized newspaper. In
Because PWC is a Web site, there’s an assumption we should be using only online methods to advertise. Online methods are good, and PWC does use them, but they only take you so far. Print is a part of the “real world” — something you can touch and pick up, not virtual like a Web site. Print has also been around a lot longer, and carries more trust with it. We found by using print, some of that trust and “real world” essence rubbed off, making PWC seem less anonymous and more like a “bricks and mortar” business (a business with a store front).
Also, since we were trying to drive local traffic to the site, it made sense to advertise locally rather than attracting people from all over the world. But even with our local advertising, we still have a substantial number of visitors from around the state, including
The point of our marketing program was to advertise regularly so we could both build the PWC brand and drive traffic to the Web site. Yet it was essential to keep our costs down. So we leveraged our monthly newspaper advertising to stretch our marketing dollar as far as we could. More on that and how we “thought small” in the next article.