advertising – what works?

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    • #42557

      I’m thinking of adverting on "the knot" website for my local area, but it’s kind of steep ($150 a month, minimum of 6 months). I don’t mind spending the money if it’s going to pay off in bookings. My business is new (and part-time) so I really need the exposure. A bride whose wedding I did posted some positive comments about me on The Knot’s forums and I got a couple prospects from it so it seems like it may be good exposure. What’s worked (and not worked) for some of you? Any feedback is welcomed!

    • #178640

      Most of my recent business has been through networking and referrals. But I do get calls quite a bit from web users.

    • #178641

      I began using online advertising recently, and it definitely brings in traffic. I’m generalizing, but google adwords is by far the highest traffic. And uses google’s adsense to generate ads for its site, so even if you pay $1 or 2 dollars per google click, you get ranked right along with the $150/month for 6 month advertisers. Yahoo brings in less traffic, and microsoft brings in less traffic than yahoo.

      A bit of the search engine advertising game has to do with being in front of people a lot. It’s not about markeing to stupid people or just getting people on the site. If you write really good ad copy and tweak it over time you can see your incoming traffic increase. If you are really good and continue to refine your SEO work you show up near the top for your search results.

      But if you need the extra step of help from search engine traffic, think about advertising with them. You don’t need thousands of dollars to start out. You can set your limits to like $1 dollar a day, and pay 20 cents per click. And keep watching for these promo codes that search engines give every once in a while to encourage you to try them out. Over the holidays I used $300 in free clicks from looksmart. But I think the reason they are giving away their hefty $300 in free adclicks is because they don’t really have that much traffic between them and their partners. Even though I put down $3 per click, my search term is rated very low, and I end up paying about 17 cents per click. Each day only gets me about 4 or 5 clicks. And there is a definite difference between using search and "Content Networks". Search puts your advertising when someone searches for your keyword terms. Content Network clickers are people who are bored or intrigued while they are reading what they REALLY want to be reading. So they might come to your website, but they have no real commitment to anything you do. Content Networks are more for fortune 500 brand building, I think. A way to have their brand name in your face at most times. The thing about these content networks is that they share revenue with the search engines, so your ad is shown thousands of times, but gets very few clicks.

      Microsoft has $100 in free clicks using the promo code BNR-100-1006 during January, it expires 1/15/07, valid for the first 1000 who sign up. They charge $5 to start, and you should use Internet Explorer when you are using their service. I use firefox to develop websites, but sometimes there are glitches in their website if you are not using IE.

      Here’s a yahoo CODE; you have to use promo code US1999 and I don’t know what their ending date is, but it’s $75 in free clicks. I think they charge $5 to begin, so you get $70 worth of free clicks.

      I’m writing this in the first week of January 2007, so I don’t know when these codes will be replaced or updated.

      But there is nothing better than good organic rankings, as CompuSolver says.

      Share wedding video online

    • #178642

      Thank you virtualscribe!

      I just came across your post, but if you know of anything that isn’t expired, do tell.

      I used WeddingChannel for a few months, but got little activity. They changed their site for the worse when they merged with the Knot.

    • #178643

      Thanks for info. I just trying to figure out with this Yahoo Search Marketing. Is this work similar to Google Adsense? I heared about Publisher Yahoo. Are they the same?

    • #178644

      I haven’t been here for a few months; my new venture, converting wedding video to online video in a password protected space is consuming a lot of my time.

      I have advertised for it in many different ways, and here’s a few answers to some of the questions you had above.

      About the codes, you have to search online for the latest ones. They keep changing, but in an effort to make people aware and gain repeat business the online advertisers keep posting promo codes so people get a discount through free clicks. In my experience, after seeing my website traffic rates rise by using promo codes and free clicks, I have opted to purchase a paid account in every one of the promo code giveaway events. I did it because of the sheer volume of traffic sent to my website, even from the smallest yielding sites.

      Yahoo just recently released their NEW search marketing because google was destroying and decimating yahoo’s search ad revenue. Yahoo was forced to look at google’s model and they are very similar. But over many months of spending money, changing options and making small changes I see that google sends twice the traffic that yahoo does. But they reach different markets, and more traffic is more traffic. If you can afford to spend money on the 4 major portals, you will get your traffic. Google, Yahoo, Looksmart, and MSN. With very simple numbers if MSN sends you 1 user, looksmart doubles that and sends you 2. Yahoo doubles that and sends you 4. Google doubles that and sends you 8. Again, if you can afford it then purchase all 4. In total you will get 15 users, from different sources. If you can’t then start with google or yahoo, whichever you prefer best.

      But there is a very subtle distinction in the ad search type marketing, which usually defaults their non search traffic to your website. This non websearch traffic comes from the sides of peoples’ free e-mails, it comes from 1 person bloggers hoping to make their blog bring in some cash, and link farms created to collect cash from random clickers. To maximize your revenue and get accurate stats, you HAVE to turn this option off. The option is usually a checkbox, usually a very small font or hidden among the options menus. This non search traffic sends you thousands or hundreds of thousands of VIEWS. These are not clickthroughs, they are just people force fed your ad because it happens to relate to someone’s e-mail message, or something else on that page. This rarely sends you worthwhile traffic, for me it was roughly 0.02 percent. That’s right, of the few thousand lookers, 0.0002 times the number of views actually ended with people clicking on the link. And for the most part it is people who are thinking, "that’s cool". Tracking your website logs, you see they click onto your site, stay for less than 5 seconds and leave. So uncheck that non search option. While you might get some traffic, most of these are tire CLICKERS !!! Just clicking around, not purchasers or people who will commit to anything you are selling. The difference in online behavior for a potential future sale or someone who genuinely cares about your product/service/info is that they get onto your site, click around to different pages, and spend time at documents which interest them.

      A very secret amount of data that you almost never hear about is something that magazines and bridal show marketers have become forced to use, called Lead Sheets. Again, you first have to spend money, but these are real leads. After you advertise at 1/2 – full page or become a bridal vendor, these places give you the leads sheet. This Lead Sheet is a list of current brides who sign up on their website, brides who want tickets to the bridal show or brides who sign up for their forums. So for the thousands or hundreds of dollars you spend, yes you get some square foot of space and greet people and intro your product, but you also get real leads from some brides who give out the correct info. What you need to be aware of are websites which claim that they have "thousands of users signed onto their newsletters, and new members signing up every day". Hey, I could do that too, if I never removed any of my old leads. The wedding industry is very specific in that you constantly need fresh leads. After all, these people are only interested in your product for a limited time, then their event passes, then they don’t care anymore. So it’s no use getting onto a newsletter which serves leads 5 years old to puff up their numbers. And I see the smarter bride/groom couples give me their e-mail addresses with a name like brideGroom062006@something dot com; they sign up with this address and don’t ever unsubscribe, so any spammer who gets a hold of it doesn’t bother this couples’ real email. There are so many free mail services, this is such a commodity that they don’t even have to look at this e-mail address once they stop caring about the vendor service they have purchased. The danger then becomes that you sign up with a website and pay per lead on their newsletter, and there might be a 10 percent bounceback rate. So dont just pay for leads, pay for fresh leads.

      I have signed up for about half a dozen bridal shows in Chicago and nationally. Yes, they cost a LOT of money for each one, and I have NEVER gotten commitment right then and there at any of my shows. In Chicago it is laid out like this: they claim doors open from 11:30 until 4, and that there are 1500 people at these shows. But the trend is that brides come mostly for the fashion show main attraction. This show starts at 2 and lasts an hour. So the reality is that in my local market bridal shows actually open their door at noon, after brides line up and fill out comment cards for the lead sheet. You have from noon to 2 to push your product, service, or information. The actual brides in attendance is somewhere between 300-400 out of the total 1500 in attendance. The rest of the crowds are their tired hubby to be, dragged from booth to booth forced to endure flower, cake, and design pattern lectures. Lots of moms, some dads, some kids. And you can tell that about a quarter of the people in attendance are there for the freebies. Free food, free fliers, CDs, free gift giveaways. But the brides to be are really focused and interested, and they are hunting for ideas. You get into great conversations with some really cool people. The young people are bright, cheery, enthused, creative, and full of optimism. But there’s an undertone current of being overwhelmed. Some of the women will admit to it. With so many options and ideas and a limited budget, some brides don’t make eye contact with every vendor. There’s a feeling that sometimes the vendors will pounce, or force unnecessary services. And a lot of brides bring their friends, who carry the "BAG". These friends sometimes do the real talking, get prices, ideas, and then your stuff gets thrown into the bride friends’ bag. And then they feel like, "Next". But there is no better place to actually see whether your service, product, or information actually fits the market requirements. People are not shy about telling you what they want and how your product ranks in their minds. If you listen to the conversations people have with their friends while they peruse your service, you get honest details about the possibility of a sale. If people they know have recieved good experiences from past vendors doing something similar to you, you may have a chance at a future sale.

      But here’s the magic. For the price of your admission to a magazine ad or a wedding show you get the LEADS sheet. This is a list of addresses, names, wedding dates, and e-mail addresses. This list is a real list of current brides who made the effort to show up. They are interested; they are spending their Sunday doing research. And if you actually want to know, you get to do it yourself. Get the list and create your own e-mails. Line up all your few hundred e-mails and create your newsletter. Then send out VALUABLE information every 4 weeks. And track it to your website. Unless I do the work myself of collecting the leads, sending it out, and tracking it, I am not satisfied by looking at other peoples’ stats. By doing a lot of the groundwork and gruntwork I can see my lead percentages in actual purchase revenue. I’m sure as I get older or my business gets larger, I can delegate. But right now I don’t have people. I make my own coffee, anwser my own calls, write my own code, track my own leads, and have a budget where I need to make the best decisions to increase my prospects. The magic of these Lead Sheets lies in the fact that less than 10 percent of your fellow vendors track their prospects. So these websites and magazines and bridal show producers go to all this trouble and prepare all these names, and people dont even take advantage of it. So if you are part of the 10 percent who does use it,you are already ahead of your peers. (this 10% number comes from a conversation with a bridal show organizer as we were packing up, and he was being very generous with his info; he wasnt looking at a stat sheet, so I understood the number to be fairly small, not exactly ten percent — but I am signed up for the newsletters, and I can see from the amount my fellow vendors send out email marketing how small it is)

      Track it, by creating links like this one: If you look at this link, you will see the question mark. A web server log does not apply any special value to the question mark or anything which comes after it, but you get to track your links. Each time someone comes to your website your link is tracked. You can change your tracking link each time you put it in a different medium. For my wedding shows I create a Promo Code. Each promo code gives a discount. And then I get to track whether a particular show was effective, based on how many promo codes people used to claim their discount on my website. If you are spending this much money in trying to attract people, you have to make sure you know where they are coming from. I currently know whether people are coming from each of my different newsletters, online ads, forums, wedding shows, magazines. I know because each has a different tracking code. And I am pretty active about following up. I’m not trying to force into anyone’s privacy. I just want to know where my ad dollars are most effective. Right now I can honestly say that bridal show leads databases give back customers. Also, online non picture ads from search engine marketing give me back customers.

      The last piece of insightful info. When you speak to a magazine ad sales rep, bridal show rep, online ad rep, or any other sales person, they tell you the number of people they serve. This doesn’t mean you will get all these people to be interested in your service. The disconnect happens right about here, for new vendors or people who just take the word of sales reps. As a business person you need to cut through the marketing between eyeballs and purchasers. There is one in between step I use to explain it to myself: Eyeballs –> Interest –> Purchase. This is my non marketing, non scientific approach. Street talk, not business degree mba talk. Take 2 percent of what they tell you, and these will be the interested people. Then take 2 percent of that and these will be the absolutely random, non influenced purchasers of your service. So, from 10 thousand people who are exposed to you, you will get 0.02 * 10,000 people interested in your stuff. That’s 200 people. Now take 2 percent of that; 0.02 * 200 to get the actual sales. Your result? 4. You get the math? Approach ten thousand random people, and you can make 4 sales. It’s a disheartening numbers game, but don’t despair. 2 percent is a very average marketing and sales figure, but that number goes down or up depending on lots of factors. Like if people have friends and they all really like what you are doing. Or many people recommend you. Or you have superb customer follow through and great customer service. When your customers repurchase or give great word of mouth your percentages increase a lot. If you are new to the game your numbers may be a percentage point lower.

      I do think that websites like Knot and WeddingChannel are reaching a saturation point in their vendor sections. Just looking at these make me uncomfortable, even as a web developer. Because I can’t grasp a logical, easy to navigate space. Eventually someone has to get the business. But just try to find a vendor by clicking one of these websites. There is so much raw data and color competing for your attention, that you just click the first few clicks, then want to leave. It will get worse in a few years when they stuff a never ending loop of wedding video with audio there, competing for your audible attention as well as your visual attention. Here’s a preview of what will come in the future, not just in one section, but video which will follow you around on every page:
      Even at bridal shows they limit the vendor types, because of this problem. If there are 8 photographers then each one will have a harder time, and the ones at the end won’t even be looked at. But online website developers seem to think they can just keep stuffing advertisers on their neverending pages. People won’t scroll endlessly to find exactly what they are looking for, just because there are no tangible limits.

      Be realistic, and find your own figures. And if you really want to succeed, prove my numbers wrong by getting a lot better in your own numbers.

      For your own curiosity, ask yourself the question: how many times have you clicked the ads to the right? I think the advertisers will be happy to get a 2 percent return. Telephone Yellow Page rates are more like 0.05% that’s why I don’t advertise in the local yellow pages.
      Share Your Wedding Video in a password protected space

    • #178645

      That’s a great insight into wedding business marketing! Priceless.

    • #178646

      FAQ Video,

      I have made a lot of mistakes, and gone into ventures without knowing everything, so I hope other people gain from what I know. If nothing else, my hope is that you will start out with more positive knowledge about these other industries so that you can make your own business successful, without making my errors.

      It is honestly very nice of videomaker to host these forums, because I like knowing that people genuinely like to share knowledge with each other. I also like the Video Maker magazine for its pure information. I was looking through an older one this evening, from Special Issue 2003, which says to be displayed until February 17, 2004. A DVR-A06U Pioneer hybrid dvd burner is listed at $329. Amazing how far we have come in just 3 years. Thanks Video Maker, for allowing us to share what we love to do.

      Share Your Wedding Video in a password protected space

    • #178647

      I’ve got my first copy in 1992 or 1993 while living in Russia. I have started in very small video production shop right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, doing weddings and shooting and editing for local news. That first copy of the magazine was sent to me by my friends from Florida. It was kind of shocking experience, overwhelming and having affected my future professional career.

      Cheers for Videomaker and for people who are making it!

    • #178648

      I agree with virtual scribe. Here in Las Vegas, I had a videographer friend that I helped out prior to owning my own video company. He was big on putting a booth in the show here, but amazingly, he never followed up on his leads. That is the key that virtualscribe was saying. It works if you follow up and the great thing is, most videographers (at least in Las Vegas) aren’t going to be diligent enough to follow up after they have invested the money in the booth and the ad, etc.

      Thanks virtualscribe…that post must have taken a LONG time but it is really valuable to us!

    • #178649

      Hi Productions,

      I’m attending a show in Las Vegas as a vendor in mid August. If you get to make it to the WEVA convention August 14th or 15th, stop by and say hello. I’ve got a spot right at the entrance; booth 300 just inside the door. If you can’t make it, put down one thing I should do while I’m in Vegas. I’ve never been there, and I’ve got a day after the event to hang out.

      Some experienced vendors always stay away from the entrance of conventions and some try to always be there, but for me with a new product intro I would like to touch as many people as I can, even if it is just hype near the door.

      The newer businesses go into purchasing booth space or magazine ads and get some tire kickers. Repeated exposure to marketing is what makes people decide to become interested, if they are in your target market. One of the mistakes, as Hi Productions stated, is that someone just shows up to a convention as a vendor with no follow up plans. And while you do get to meet some amazing people at your booth they don’t become customers right then because they are overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of the event.

      Any high school or college marketing manual will tell you about users needing to see something multiple times before they act on that exposure. When you catch newspaper editors or magazine reps off guard on a weekend discussing their business they tell you pretty candidly that unless users get repeated exposure, they won’t act on the suggestions in their paper media. Yes, they are trying to sell me their service, so they have a reason to get me to purchase more ad / booth space. But from their own perspective, if they get one time advertisers who don’t get results and bad mouth their print/booth space, they stand to lose. The more honest editors discourage one time advertisers, by telling the truth. My magic number is 3; I do physical advertising things in threes when I can afford it. The first ad or booth is a trial, to set up in that space. The second one builds on results from the first exposure. By the third time, you know what the booth crowd is like, what trends the magazine will bring you, and your presentation or ad space actually looks better than the first time. If you can afford it and can keep doing it, continuing to put your ads or booths up will bring in fresh leads. But for me after the booths and ads are placed, I get these consenting lead sheets. I then start the internet campaign. Email newsletters once every 4 weeks. The bride/grooms who sign up for tickets have given consent to getting marketing material, and e-mail is by far the most inexpensive way to market and track. I always have opt out links, and get a few people who do unsubscribe right away. When I first started, I thought, "all I have to do is show up as a booth vendor or put in one magazine ad, and I’ll get lots of buyers". Completely false. I get a lot of lookers. My campaign is now more realistic; I advertise in print and set up booths with the intent of raising awareness and meeting people to see how the market is reacting to my service. Once I get leads from print and booth events, the real work begins of keeping in contact with these emailable leads. Repeated contact, repeated exposure. By creative linking in email newsletters I can see that people forward these to their friends. They come by to my site, then come back again a bit later. They use my site’s ‘tell a friend’ form to bring more people in. By tying my marketing efforts together and giving power to my potential users to market for me, I get a much more informed, educated, interested user. Yes it’s a lot of work. But the purchasers of my service tell me with their dollars that this is effective when they buy from me.

      I am finding out that by signing up and paying early as a vendor you get great pick spots in your events. This happenned when I was choosing booth space and magazine ads. There is a set rate in all rate cards, but I chose events far in the future and then got in touch with the sales reps. Things are negotiable when you get in on it early enough. There is leeway to move about, lower the pricing, get discounts. It also helps to choose suppliers who produce multiple events. I signed up with a vendor who is putting on a wedding show and later found out that they are starting up a new wedding magazine later in the year, targeted to the highest end Chicago market. They already have a successful magazine running in chicago, and being a small business owner I would never have been able to afford the full page ad in their current magazine. But since this one is a new magazine coming out, since I already had purchased a booth, I was early enough and able to get the outside back cover of the as yet non existent magazine. An additional benefit which I never expected is the Lead Sheets that they delivered. These date back from current leads to their first magazine website, from about 1 1/2 year ago, all delivered online, in excel documents. They include the name, email, address, and wedding date of their signups. While I agree a lot of these older leads are not current, the wedding dates show that about a quarter of these leads have a wedding sometime in mid to late 2007. So by signing up early for the wedding show, I got a discount there, they then told me about an upcoming magazine and I got an extreme discount there, got good positioning at both places, and unexpectedly got a few thousand leads in the process.

      Hi Productions summarized very well what took me too long to ramblingly address: Keep getting more business by continuing to market your product, service, or information effectively. This doesn’t mean throwing money into adspace/booths and forgetting about the results. It means being scrappy, pursuing, and looking for new ways to maximize your exposure. You can either stay in business for 20 years and build up slowly over time or put some creative marketing into play early on in your career. It also means taking some risk. Only put up the amount of resources that you are comfortable losing. Because from the time you become determined to push your business to the next level, you will be spending not just money, but also time and effort. Give enough time to follow up on your leads and be realistic about what you expect back, and when you expect it. In the worst case scenario when you see that absolutely nothing is working, be prepared to tell yourself honestly that it’s not working. But from the little victories I have had, unless I put myself out there I know I would not have been able to meet the people and build the relationships which are making me successful.

      I know that as technical people we like to DO ; doesn’t matter what, we just have to be doing it. But taking a step back and intelligently planning the future of your own business gives concrete direction. In some respects all planning ends up with different results than you expect. Like building developers, we plan and prepare and build for the future, and the hope is that a reward is waiting in the future. While waiting for that reward to come in, we do the most effective marketing and sales we can. And I’m glad for being able to come into contact with people who gently push in the right directions.
      Share Your Wedding Video in a password protected space[/b][/i]

    • #178650

      Hey Vscribe

      Glad to hear you’ll be out here in August. I’ll mark my calendar for the WEVA event and stop by and introduce myself.

      Depending on your budget and/or what you’re into, restaurants: The "Top of The World" has, surprisingly, become a world-renowned steak house at the top of the Stratosphere. Its great food and a great view, but also, ala carte on everything so a bit pricey.

      Clubs: Light at Belagio and ‘Pure’ are hot right now, emphasis on ‘right now’

      Bars: Local scene – head down to Maryland Parkway next to UNLV. Best pubs down there: Crown and Anchor (British Style), PT’s Pubs (total locals fave), and it used to be called "Moose McGuillicuddy’s" but I think its called something else now. Right across from UNLV

      Free Shows: Treasure Island outdoor ship extravaganza (kind of racy); Belagio Fountains (bring your camera); Venetian Opera singers in the ‘town square’ my personal favorite

      Expensive shows: Celine (I could vom); Blue Man Group (they’re everywhere now); and the ‘O’ Show

      Thats a quick rundown…see you in August!

    • #178651

      A great way to get a lot of industry professionals and prospects looking your way is to use your expertise to videotape, edit and distribute local events of interest. For instance, you can contact the event organizers at your local wedding expo and tell them you’d like to videotape the event and edit together a highlight video that will be made available to view on your website after the event. All you’ll need is permission to videotape during the event. While you are at the event, bring your spouse, business partner or employees along to hand out flyers or bookmarks that tell people that the highlight video of the expo will be available to view on your website after the event. Your camera roving all over the event will also draw a lot of questions from the other industry professionals. You’ll want to give them one of your flyers/bookmarks, your business card and be sure to get one of their cards. Also, do your best to include footage from as many booths as possible in your finished video.

      After you have edited the video and posted it on your website, you can do the following:

      1. Contact the event/expo organizers to tell them the video is available for viewing on your site and suggest that they put a link directly to your page on their website. They will more than likely have all the expo attendees and/or vendors’ email addresses so you can suggest that they send a note to everyone telling them that the video can be viewed at the link you provide. If you are concerned about bandwidth charges or the event/expo organizers aren’t comfortable with putting a link directly to you site, you can give them the video file to post on their website. This will save you from paying the bandwidth costs but be sure to tag the video with your logo and website address/phone number at the beginning and end of the video. This way, no matter where the video ends up, viewers will know you were responsible for putting it together.

      2. Contact the sponsors of the event and offer the same linking or video file arrangement as above. Take it a step further and burn the video file to a CD-ROM along with several other files specific to your company. (demo video, brochure, sample wedding projects, corporate projects, etc.) The CD-ROM will give them something tangible to hold and having your logo and contact info on the disc face will further brand your company into their brains.

      3. Contact each of the expo vendors and repeat the above process again. You should have grabbed as many cards as possible while walking around the expo so you will have everyone’s email address. Send them the link to your video page and deliver the CD-ROM with the highlight video and your information.

      4. If you are feeling really ambitious, try to figure out how to get a CD-ROM copy in the hands of every prospective bride that attended the show. Perhaps you could coordinate with the expo organizers to have everyone sign up at the registration table if they’d like to receive a copy of the highlight video after the event. Or, you can put on your flyers/bookmarks/website that they can order a free copy of the CD-ROM by giving you their mailing address, phone number and email address.

      5. Add links to all the vendor and sponsor websites underneath the video on your website. Once they see that you have taken the time to do this, they will love you forever! Plus, they may even feel compelled to return the favor by putting your link on their website.

      This is an excellent way to rapidly build your base of contacts and referral partners. By giving out the flyers/bookmarks at the event (with the organizers permission of course), you will drive prospective brides directly to your site. By allowing the event organizers and other vendors link to your video page or use the video file any way they please, you will immediately build an army of referral partners that will me more than eager to send business your way.

      This same concept can be implemented in local business events as well if you are looking to grow your contacts and referral partners regarding your corporate video services.

      This is viral marketing at it’s best! The only difference between this and YouTube is that your video will be produced by a professional and the audience will be the exact people you need to impress to grow your business.

      Kris Simmons

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