How to Kill an Ad Campaign

Why Getting Sick of Your Ads Will Hurt Your Business

 

“I’m sick of my ad. Can you come up with something new?” said an advertiser I was working with years ago at my radio station.

 

I had a choice. I could give him what he wanted and take his money, or I could tell him something he didn’t want to hear at the risk of losing his money. I decided to take the risk and provide an educational moment.

 

“Why are you sick of it?” I asked.

 

“All my friends at the country club have heard it, all my employees have heard it and are suggesting I change it. Even my kids are telling me I’m running it too much. Frankly, I’m a little tired of it.”

 

“Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

 

“Sure,” he said.

 

“When you see ads with a person wearing a little white moustache, what do the ads say?”

 

He replied, “Got Milk?”

 

What is it that Nike says on all their ads?

 

He replied, “Just Do It.”

 

What happens with an M&M?

 

He replied “It melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

 

Alka Seltzer?

 

He replied “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

 

The biggest mistake advertisers make is getting sick of their slogans, their ads, their campaigns. And believe me, they have to resist: Milk processors and dairy farmers used “Got Milk” for 21 years starting in 1993, Nike used “Just do it” for 26+ years starting in 1988, M&Ms  has used the same slogan since 1954, and Alka Seltzer since 1971.

 

Ad agencies are notorious for destroying heritage campaigns for something fresh and new — and sales usually go down. Look how many ad campaigns and slogans McDonald’s has had — dozens. Yet the one we all still remember is “You deserve a break today.” That campaign ended in 1975.

 

It may take some time to get the right campaign created and tested, but your goal should be to find a slogan, a concept for your ad, that is strong enough that you can run the same concept forever.

 

Our friends-and-family test always fails us because they already know you, they already know your business; they already know everything they should know about you. But the person down the road doesn’t know you exist. Your job is to repeat your promise, your uniqueness, your special offer, to that person over and over again.

 

“But surely they’ve heard it by now. So why keep running it?”

 

I always get that question, and the answer is simple. In the 1980s it was believed the average person had to hear or see something at least seven times within a short period of time before they would take action on it. Today, due to all the clutter, experts believe it takes 13 times to get someone to act — it’s almost doubled.

 

We assume because we ran an ad that everyone saw it or heard it, but that’s simply not true. Let’s say that you’re running ads in my magazine Fine Art Connoisseur, which reaches lots of ultra-wealthy consumers. It comes out six times a year. Though people do receive it, what if they flip through it without seeing your ad? What if they are away on a business trip when it comes out and they miss an issue? No media on earth can guarantee that someone will see and absorb something.

 

There are three elements to the success of an ad. It has to reach the right audience (not necessarily the largest audience); it has to have creative that grabs your attention so that when someone is flipping through, taking less than a second per page, you jump out, grab their attention, and make them read it; and it has to be run with frequency.

 

Let’s say they flip through the magazine the first time you run it. They notice your ad, but they don’t stop to read it. The next time they flip through, they pause briefly and think, “I’ve seen this,” but then they keep going. Next time, maybe they pause and think, “Hmm, I should read this sometime.” And the next time, they pause and read it. When they see it again, they might think, “I should pay more attention to this.”

 

Repetition is nothing more than familiarity, like meeting a new person, seeing them time and again, and then, once you trust them, becoming friends. Then and only then does the friendship deepen enough that they enter your world more completely.

 

There are many other elements that ads need to contain, which I’ll touch on in the future, but the most important thing is to get people to notice and pay attention. Only then does and ad begin to do the selling.

 

Once that trust and awareness have been established, that’s not an indicator that someone is going to buy. Now they need a reason to buy. It could be an impulsive, “I really like that painting. I want to own it.” But if they get to that point before trust is built, they will probably tell themselves, “But I don’t really know anything about this artist, so I’ll pass.”

 

You see, interest in buying ebbs and flows. Timing is everything. If someone is in the middle of moving or downsizing, another painting is not what they want at the moment, but three weeks later, when they are in the new condo, buying new furniture, and thinking, “We need something new for over the couch,” they might pay closer attention next time they see your ad.

 

In my first Art Marketing Boot Camp video, where I describe the basics, I show an escalator with people going up and going down, to represent that people are always in and out of a market. If money is tight, or if something is going on in their lives, like illness or a family issue, they are not buying. If they come into money because college bills ended, they got a bonus at work, they inherited some money, got a raise, or sold a business, they may feel the desire to spend.

 

Big brand advertisers never stop advertising. They understand that people are always in and out of the market. I don’t want or need a new car today, but in a year my kids will get their license and will probably get my old car. Advertisers understand that there are always changing circumstances. Though they also repeat and repeat to gain top-of-mind awareness, they also know you must be there when the decision to spend is made.

 

I often tell the story of my friend Raul, who suddenly found himself with a lot of money. Because he loved Sargent, he decided to buy a Sargent painting. Though he was a reader of my magazine, he called and said, “Who carries Sargent? Where can I get one?”

 

Ironically, the company that sold Sargent had advertised a couple of times and then dropped out because they felt they were not getting any results. A year later, I got this call and I referred him to these people. He bought two Sargent paintings, spending millions. He was lucky he knew to call me. But what about the other 500 who wanted to do the same thing and never found the seller?

 

Of course, today the answer is “Google it,” but how do you know who is trusted? Reviews? Maybe, but this is where brand-building is important to focus on those most likely to buy (known art buyers) so they recognize your name when they do Google something.

 

Another friend, a major collector and an avid reader, told me he wanted to buy a Holbein painting. I suggested he go to a particular major fine art fair in Europe. “What’s that?” he said. We were in his office and he had a stack of art magazines, including mine. I flipped through them and found an ad. “Oh I’ve seen that but didn’t know what it was.”

 

This is a case where perhaps the advertiser assumed everyone already knew about the event. But it had not reached him, either because he did not see it enough times or the message did not cut through. Later, I researched it and found the fair had only advertised twice, about 30 days before the event. They assumed everyone already knew them, so they were not doing enough repetition to get their message across. In a case like this, an advertiser needs to use bold, attention-getting creative.

 

Usually an advertiser bails out before an ad is working because they assume everyone has seen or heard it, but in reality people are just starting to see it. Great campaigns take time to get attention and rarely work instantly, but once they start working, they work forever. People may have heard the message, but not been in the market. But after years of hearing it, when they are in the market, they buy.

 

That’s how advertising repetition works.

 

That advertiser I was telling you about earlier used just our one radio station, because that was all he could afford. But with repetition, he sold so much merchandise that he had to move to a bigger showroom. Then he out grew that one, so he opened a second store, then a third, and by the time I left town, he had built to six or eight stores and was the biggest furniture seller in town.

I’ve not stayed in touch, but chances are some ad agency somewhere talked him into changing his message and his ads — but hopefully did not destroy the business we built.

 

Whatever you do, do it with repetition. Don’t get overly concerned that people have seen it or heard it, because they go through many stages before they are aware enough to buy, and then they need to be in the market at the right time for them.

 

By | August 8th, 2017|Business, Direct Marketing|0 Comments

The Land of Danger for Art Marketers

 

Imagine walking through the Sahara desert. In every direction you look, you see what seems to be miles and miles of sand. The hot sun is beating down on you and you’ve run out of water. You’ve slowed your pace, and you’re in danger of collapsing and baking in this Sahara oven if you don’t find water soon. Then, as you see the sunlight reflecting off water on the horizon, you muster all your energy to run toward it. But as you get closer, you find there is no water. It’s merely a mirage.

As artists working on our own marketing and branding, we often feel like we’re in the desert. We feel barely able to make it, but then something gives us hope, something gives us the feeling that we’re making great strides — but it’s only a mirage.

Recently I was having a discussion with a company and I asked the marketing team about what percentage of the market was aware of their brand. Boldly, they said, “We know that at least 75 percent of the people in the art world know us.”

It was a mirage.

I was feeling especially kind and non-confrontational that day, so instead of challenging them and giving them a much-needed dose of reality, I simply asked how they knew.

They told me about all the things they were doing and all the places they were doing them. Frankly, it wasn’t much and hadn’t been going on for long, and they had barely scratched the surface. By asking questions, I was finally able to get them to come to that conclusion on their own.

Their perception had been that they were known, even a household name, but it was all a self-imposed mirage. The reality is that they were barely known, if known at all.

As a marketer, your self-confidence (or your ego) can kill your business. When you think you’re doing well, when you think you’re doing everything you can, you start to believe that is enough.

Recently, right after I was on stage and speaking at the opening of the Plein Air Convention, a young woman walked up to me, introduced herself, and asked politely, “Who are you, and what do you do?”

Gulp.

I’m at my own event, with my tribe, I’ve spent tons of time and money on marketing, I’ve told my story a thousand times, yet this person was unaware.

I felt completely stupid and realized I had become overconfident.

The next morning, when I went on stage, I started Art Marketing Boot Camp with my story, because if there was one person there who didn’t know it, chances are there were others.

As someone recently told me, “You cannot tell your story enough.”

Remember that marketing team? After all my questions, I told them that there was a very big chance that they were known by only a small percentage of the entire market. Others might be aware of the company’s name but not know what it does.

We all grow so close to our marketing that we sometimes make insanely stupid assumptions, like…

  • Everyone knows who we are
  • Everyone knows our story
  • Everyone knows exactly what we do
  • Everyone has read everything we ever put out
  • Everyone has visited our website
  • Everyone has seen our artwork

But we need to understand that there are always people entering and exiting the market. Through attrition, our customer list is always changing, on average by 10 percent each year, and in bad economic years, by 30 to 50 percent.

That means you have to…

  • Constantly be telling your story
  • Constantly be helping people know your product or art
  • Constantly bring new people into your list
  • Constantly stay visible

We wrongly assume that because someone sees a story or an ad, they have “captured the message.”

The reality is that most people don’t pay close attention. They don’t read things we think they should read. They skim a lot of things.

And since the average person has to be hit over the head about a dozen times with seeing or hearing your message before they become a prospect, you have to be constantly pushing and repeating that message.

And don’t assume they saw or heard it every time you ran it.

Also, repetition fades with time, so you have to compress time by being seen more frequently over shorter time periods.

There are other critical pieces. You see, every campaign is about four things:

  • What you say and how you get attention
  • How often you say it
  • How often your target prospect sees it
  • Who you say it to, which has to do with where you say it

On stage recently I asked the audience how many had seen ads for “MyPillow.com.” In a room of 1,000 people, only about 30 hands went up.

I’ve seen these ads on TV probably a hundred times in the last year, yet only 3 percent of the room was aware of them.

After seeing the ad for the hundredth time, my wife finally bought the product.

Every buyer has their own timing. Your campaigns need to repeat your story and message to the point that you are personally sick of it and think others are as well.

Even then, you’ve tapped only a small percentage of a market, and sold only a small percentage.

It all works due to the volume of people being reached and the constant repetition of the message.

I’ll bet if I asked the CEO of the company that makes MyPillow, he would say the world knows about his product because of the thousands of people reached and the large number of orders coming in. Yet he would be embarrassed and frustrated with the 3 percent of the room I surveyed.

His marketing person, on the other hand, would probably understand that more time will be required to reach more people, and even then, not everyone will be aware.

The point?

Don’t get overconfident and think the world knows about you or knows the details about your product.

Overconfidence will lead you to think you’re big when you’re not, and will lead you to reduce or stop your marketing because you believe that, or because you’re seeing some results.

Marketing is like a jet that never lands and has to be continually refueled in the air. If you land it, you lose momentum and it’s much harder to take off again — and you’ll see a reduction in business before long.

A great marketer understands the land of danger and the mirage of assuming people know who they are and know their story. A great marketer never lands.

By | May 3rd, 2017|Business, Direct Marketing|4 Comments

Mining Old Gold: The BEST Way to Sell More Artwork

The best way to sell more art from Eric Rhoads Art Marketing Boot Camp
A wise mentor once asked me what I thought would be the best way to grow my business. When I told him I thought I should bring in more customers, he scolded me politely and told me I was wrong.

 

He then asked me what my most valuable asset in the business was. Of course I told him it was my product and my people. Strike two. I was wrong again.

 

Selling art is, well, a business. Selling anything, even lemonade on the street, is a business. So if I asked you the same questions, what would you answer?

 

Last week, after teaching my Art Marketing Boot Camp on stage at the Plein Air Convention and revealing my new Art Marketing in a Box™ system, I was approached by a woman in the audience. She was a gallery owner and had a reputation as a top marketer. And it turned out that, based on what I revealed in this new system, she too hadn’t had the right answers.

 

Are you ready?

 

The best way to grow your business is from your real most valuable asset: your existing customers.

 

How can that be?

 

Ever heard of a collector who keeps buying paintings from one artist? Of course. It happens all the time.

 

The bottom line is that a new customer is harder to sell than an old one. You have to help them fall in love with your art, tell your story, and make them trust you enough to spend money. Existing customers already know about you, already love your work, have already trusted you enough to buy from you, and have a painting of yours hanging on their walls.

 

Yet the most overlooked opportunity is the past customer.

 

What can you do?

 

First, it’s important to know the names of your customers so you can develop a dialogue. CAUTION: If you have a gallery, they’ll need to know you won’t violate your agreement and sell direct.

 

Once you have names, you’ll need to stay in touch on a regular basis. People will forget about you faster than you think. This is why campaigns and newsletters are important. Stay in their minds.

 

Finally, think in terms of building a lost-customer activation campaign. Recently we took a list of former subscribers who had not renewed, contacted them, and had a high percentage re-subscribe. We had assumed that once they were gone, they were gone forever. We were wrong.

 

What can you do to “reactivate” lost customers?

 

Well, if you’ve not stayed visible, you need to start being visible again. You can send a simple note, handwritten would be nice, simply saying you remember selling them a painting in the past and you’d love to show them what you’ve painted recently. Then invite them over, or invite them to your website, or to join your newsletter list.

 

It’s that simple.

Yes, there are more sophisticated ways to approach this, which we will discuss in the future. But start small. It’s amazing how a simple outreach can bring old customers back.

By | May 3rd, 2016|Direct Marketing|3 Comments

Double Down on Direct Mail

An Art Marketing Message from Eric Rhoads

DOUBLE DOWN

A wise mentor once told me that “whenever someone declares something as dead, its probably a great time to embrace it.”


Experts long ago predicted the death of direct mail. These days when social media is so cheap, email so cheap. Why bother doing direct mail?


Simply because it works.


In fact at a direct marketing conference recently the experts were saying “it works better than it ever did because there is no one doing it anymore.”


As I have mentioned in the past, a smart marketer never has all their eggs in one basket. Things change. Things can go wrong. Once long ago I had a business which relied on email to sell a product, when suddenly there was an email problem, which took months to solve. Sales stopped. Had I had other sources of marketing going it would have not only prevented the loss of sales, it would have been working for me as well.


As an artist Direct mail to your “customer list” is a great tool. Printed oversized postcards with images of your artwork are terrific tools to announce new artworks. You can keep the front beautiful and unencumbered and place a selling message on the flip side.


A Great Direct Mail Trick

I once launched a direct mail campaign. My goal was to cement four ideas in the minds of my target customer, who were potential advertisers of my radio magazine. So I made up four postcards, one for each point. I mailed one postcard a week with a different message each week. But every 4th week they got the same post card again. I repeated this campaign knowing that they would receive each post card five times.


Not only did we receive no complaints, we noticed an uptick in our business related to those messages the more times those cards hit. Repetition works.


Direct mail experts will tell you to do a mailing, then repeat the exact mailing to the same list a week or two later. It improves results the second time and again the third time. It’s been tested.

 

In media there is a tendency to declare things as dead or outdated and be seduced by the new. Though there is nothing wrong with the new, my goal is to get my product sold or my message sold, so I’ll employ lots of different media alternatives to get that done. Today I get almost no direct mail from artists or galleries, but I do get a couple and they stand out, and I tend to read them or keep them if the images are nice. Its an open opportunity you should consider.

By | July 17th, 2015|Direct Marketing|3 Comments

Christmas In July: A Money Tree for Artists

 

SantaSkis
Want to Make Some Christmas Sales This Month? This story gives you a step by step plan.

Santa on water skis? Yes, I admit to doing it. In the 1980s, I owned a radio station. I had just taken it over and needed to bring lots of attention to it. So I invented the “Summer Santa” promotion. I had learned that our news director played Santa at Christmas time to make a couple extra bucks. He already had a suit. He already had a belly full of jelly, a jovial laugh, and a Christmas-like spirit. It was an instant promotion, and it was easy. Spot the “Summer Santa,” recite a phrase about the station, and win a Christmas gift in July. We took “Santa” everywhere, including the lake where everyone was spending time on July 4th. And yes, he did actually water ski in the Santa suit. I know because I drove the boat. Have you ever seen a wet Santa? It’s quite a sight.

 

Eric, Are You Suggesting I Do a Christmas in July Promotion?

No, not exactly, though there are some elements you can employ to get attention.

 

Money Does Grow on Trees
Instead we’re going to do something really Christmas-like together. Money does grow on trees, and we’re going to plant a money-making Christmas tree in July. Are you in?

 

Everything in marketing starts with a seed. Plant a seed, nurture and water it, expose it to sunlight, watch it grow and blossom, and it grows money.

 

Getting Early Attention from Christmas Shoppers
What does everyone do around Christmas time? They sell like crazy, they promote like crazy, and it is darned near impossible to get anyone’s attention at Christmas to sell something. So we’re going to get them thinking about a Christmas gift in July, when they're not thinking about Christmas.

 

Now I’m presuming that you’ve already got a list of previous buyers. If you don’t, this won’t work.

 

A Step By Step Plan You Can Do This Week To Stimulate Business
Here is the move. Ready?

 

You write a Christmas letter. You can make up your own, or you can copy mine. You mail it out to your list and wait for the magic to happen.

 

Oh, and the critical thing is that you send it to the spouse or partner of your buyer. For instance, if the one was the one who loved and bought the painting, send the letter to the other. If they both bought the painting, send it to one of them. Note, I did not say e-mail this. I want you to use mail. E-mail is too easy to delete.

 

Step 1. Get a red mailing envelope. Put your name in the return address area. Put these words on one side of the envelope: My First Annual July Christmas Letter. Open immediately.

 

Step 2. Enclose a candy cane. It makes the envelope lumpy and creates curiosity. You may want to wrap the packaged candy cane in some foam or paper. People cannot opening resist a lumpy envelope.

 

Step 3. Get some Christmas letterhead. You can usually find it at a craft store like Michaels, or at an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot. It’s stationery with a Christmas theme.

 

Step 4. Write the letter (copy to follow). Make sure to have a strong headline. Sign the letter.

 

Step 5. Easy to Find Contact Information. Make sure you have put your mobile phone number and e-mail on the letter so they can find you.

 

Step 6. Enclose a photo of a recent painting you’ve done. Place information on the back: “Thought you’d like to see one of my recent paintings. This one is called NAME and might look great hanging in your home.” With your contact information. If they throw out the letter they might keep the image. Nothing but the image should be on the front.

 

Step 7. Put it all in the envelope.

 

Step 8. Lick it, seal it, stamp it.

 

Step 9. Mail it.

 

OK, here is the letter. You have my permission to use it or adapt it, copy it into your word processor, personalize it, and print it. My letter below is written as though it’s personalized to the wife, mentioning the husband. You need to adapt to the persons and titles you are sending it to. (Note this could be sent to corporations too).

 

Why on Earth Am I Sending You a Christmas Letter in July?
I Promise It Will Make Perfect Sense in About 20 Seconds

  • Your Name Here

 

Dear Jane,

 

While you’re enjoying this candy cane and remembering last Christmas, I want to give you an idea. Remember how stressful Christmas shopping can be? Sometimes it just robs the joy from the holiday, trying to find the perfect gift.

But I think I’ve found it for you: Me.

Well, not me, exactly. But my artwork.

 

Wait, before you crumple up this letter, here’s what I was thinking.

 

You once bought one of my paintings, and I remember that your husband loved it. For this Christmas, I can do a custom painting based on something your husband really loves … a special place, a special memory, or something meaningful to him. Since he already likes my art and my style, he’ll love a custom painting done just for him.

 

In fact, I daresay it may be the most memorable Christmas gift he ever receives.

 

Of course, the reason I’m contacting you in July is so we have time to put our heads together on the subject. I’ll do some sketches till I get it the way you want it, then I’ll begin the painting. And it will be ready for Christmas. (I also do birthdays and anniversaries.)

 

Here’s the catch.

Yes, there is always a catch. Paintings take a long time to paint and a long time to dry, which is why I’m contacting you in July. Hey, that rhymes. Santa would be proud.

 

The catch is that I can do only three custom paintings before Christmas. Once I book those three paintings, I probably won’t be able to do more. So if you like the idea, give me a call, tell me the size you’re thinking about, the scene, the colors, and I’ll quote you a price and give you time to think about it without feeling obligated.

 

Your husband will get the world’s most special Christmas gift, custom-painted for him. I hope you like the idea. And I promise I’ll keep it a secret.

I’ve enclosed a picture of a recent painting to remind you of my artwork. But I can paint anything you want, painted in my own style. Just call the number below and let’s talk turkey … well, Christmas turkey.

 

Merry Christmas … in July!

 

Artist Name

Contact information

PS: This is our little secret. I haven’t sent the same thing to your husband. Imagine how his eyes will light up when he sees a painting of something meaningful to him. Maybe his childhood home, the old farm, your favorite vacation spot, his Aunt Nellie. Anything. But if you like the idea, call, because I can do only three custom paintings for this Christmas, if I start soon.

 

-end letter-

Side Benefits to the Letter

Will this work? Absolutely. And if nothing else, you’ll get talked about, create attention, and get a chance to put a photo of a painting you’re trying to sell in front of a potential buyer. It will be a great image piece because of your creativity, and, yes, you should get a few orders. Be sure to get a deposit and explain terms of deposit so you don't work for free. The deposit will get you some of your money up-front and the rest you'll get when the paintings are done, usually way before Christmas.

Can you do more than three? Probably, but you want to create scarcity and time pressure. Plus, no one wants what everyone can have. This is special.

 

You’ll need to be ready for the call. Know your prices and sizes and be ready to e-mail the information when they call. Most important, get them talking about what scene they want painted. Get them imagining the excitement. Get them thinking about where it will hang and how the recipient will think of them every time they look at it. It’s an easy sale, and a great way to communicate that you do commissions. (Don’t use the word commissions, though; that’s an unknown insiders’ term to most people.)

Will you have the guts? Some of you will, and I think you’ll see great results. The best results will come from previous buyers, and the more recent, the better the response. Don’t be afraid to send out a few hundred of these. You can always paint more, and not everyone will bite, but I guarantee they’ll be talking about you.

Oh, one more thing. If you mail the exact same letter 2 weeks later you will increase response.

 

Merry Christmas from your Summer Santa friend, Eric Rhoads

By | July 13th, 2015|Direct Marketing|2 Comments