Thursday, December 21, 2017

In the first three articles of this series, I think we have been very insistent at laying some groundwork for you, and I hope you've taken them to heart.  It's taken me 30 plus years to get to that level of understanding and you're able to absorb it in

only ten articles. 


What I want you to keep in mind moving forward is that as much as we all recognize change is all around us, and the only constant is change, we are immeasurably comforted by things that stay the same. There is a security in tradition, in style, in look, in the way things used to be. When there is unwelcome change, we pine saying, It wasn't like this in the old days. 


We have a tremendous amount of support and stability in the familiar. I want to make sure you don't lose that. It is important to keep embracing and trying all of these new media and opportunities and new looks and styles. Please don't get so far away from your knitting that your target audience has no idea who you are, or what you represent anymore.


I want you, for Mistake number four – To Please Stop Changing Your Look. 


Remember that your customers are expecting you to have a recognizable colour scheme, a logo, a typeface. You want to build that brand. Maybe that brand is just you. Maybe it's the product or service that you are aggressively marketing. If you keep changing your image you’ll have a hard time being remembered.  You want to build upon the equity of the look and the style and the voice that you spent so much time nurturing.


An abrupt change just for the sake of it can be absolutely devastating to a brand because all of a sudden all of the people who followed you, tried your product were enamored with it, stayed with it, trusted it, believed in it, they start to recoil with…what are they doing?... why are they changing their look, their stuff,  I can't recognize them anymore. 


Be careful when you make a refresh.  I don't mind you doing a little bit of tweaking to maybe change the colour and bring the look in a little bit more contemporary. However you don't want to come up with an entirely new image that has your customer puzzling…..what brand are you now, you're not what I know, what I trust with you.  You're going to start the cycle all over again of trying to build up the equity.  So here's how you fix this. Please, please, please be consistent, keep your look the same across all media.


You are trying to establish an identity that is exclusive to you.  If you don't do anything to distinguish yourself and keep your uniqueness, you become as inconsequential as used tissue paper. Constantly changing undermines all your built up equity. You will be forever relegated to commodity status.  You'll be consistently challenged on price and not on the value your product delivers. Now, that said, as I mentioned it is okay to refresh and update the look and the brand once you’ve gained a foothold.


But too frequent changes will compromise your sales, your impact, and your memorability. In the closing words of Billy Joel’s ‘Just The Way You Are” - I couldn't love you any better, I love you just the way you are. So be consistent.  You’re proud of the look you've established. Get as much mileage out of it as you can and keep placing it where your audience knows they can expect to see it. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

As we saw in articles 1 & 2, we talked about testing and about the critical importance of identifying each and every ad you prepare.  Those should be the foundation for everything that goes out to the marketplace.


One challenge that I've run into on a number of occasions is that my clients have considered themselves to be the target group. While that may or may not be the case, in the majority, you are selling a product or service to fix someone else's problem. Your tastes as the product or service-solution provider are probably really different from the recipient who needs your expertise, or product or service.


Several years back, I had one client who was infamously attached to a particular media. It's a very fine media, but it was the only one he would use because it was the only one that he felt delivered the message that he would see. My challenge to him was quite simply, please remember, you are not the target audience for what we are trying to sell. I applaud you for being so attached to this particular media, but it should not be the only vehicle that we utilize. Ultimately he relented and we did use a mix including his favourite, but used the mix of media to reach a broader platform and still stay within budget.


I think that's a critical component for too many advertisers.  They unfortunately, and unwittingly, sometimes have blinders on so that they only want to use the media that they see, recognize, understand, appreciate and are familiar with. 


It's always a good comfort zone to be using something that you know and like and trust, and importantly if you have tested and if it's working for you, keep using it. I have no quarrel with that, however I want you to make sure you don't discount or dismiss other opportunities...because I never read that magazine,  I don't listen to that radio station or I never get home in time to watch TV .


You’re right! You don't!  But you are not selling to you. You are selling to the hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands who are interested in your product,  or service. They don't really care what you would watch. What you want to do is put your message in front of them on the platforms and the times that resonate for them. If you have a chance to see it, that's great. You will see the commercial before it goes to air and we can give you scheduling as to when it will be on air if you want to take the time to record it and watch it later. We can give you a list of the websites that we’ll be appearing on if you want to personally go in and look at it, that's excellent. But don't dismiss other media options just because they are not familiar to you. They are familiar to your audience. 


Your media professional should be able to put in front of you empirical data showing you this is why you need to utilize radio in addition to magazine.  Why online platforms are going to be a powerful assist to the magazine and out of home campaign.  There is immense power in buying a second or third or more media and not just more of one. Using multiple forms of media allows you to specifically gear your efforts towards target and sub-target markets to reap the highest rewards. Outliers in target market populations may connect with ads in a way you haven't predicted yet. Only through hitting your audience on all fronts can you gain the invaluable data that allows you to focus future campaigns. 


Whatever it is, firstly it should be measurable, empirical to justify it, but secondly and importantly it has to be reaching your preferred target group. I elaborate on this on Media Spike #45 which you can access from here. (click here for part of 57 tutorials for free)


As I mentioned at the outset, the chances are pretty good you are not your products’ target group. Don't just rely on your gut or instinct or your own taste in media for where to place the ad. Goodness sake I've placed hundreds, maybe thousands of ads in media that I know from a buyer’s standpoint and not from a users standpoint. That's fine because like it or not, I'm not always a target group for such-and-such a product. But I do know the right media to get your message in front of the proper target. 


When you're developing who your audience is, please take the time to be as specific as possible. You don't want to get so finite that you end up with a universe of twelve people and I've seen that happen. However, don't pick the wrong place or the wrong target group or both and then wonder gee, why is this such a lacklustre response?  Nobody is buying my new space-age shovel, my post hole diggers, my whatever. They need to know that you're providing a solution. The solution it provides has to be what they need, and has to be in the media that they are going to respond to and act on.


To illustrate, one client in particular was a real sports fan. Just like yours truly. Pick, a sport and I'm there.


They put the ad on the sports radio station because that's what they listen to. But their primary audience was for younger females who had little, if any interest in most of these sporting programs.  It's disappointing because it was such a powerful campaign if it had been properly directed to the right audience.  Here's what I want you to do. To fix mistake number three, do the proper research find out who is really buying your product or service. Maybe that's through a survey, a store intercept survey, an online survey, a mail out, something that genuinely tells you who is buying your product or identifies who your candidates are. You can get as specific as possible by gender and age, by income and lifestyle, and a host of other demographic details that will help you zero in on them. 


As much as you’re able, please do not rely on the universe of one sampling.  Well my mom Liked that.  Oh perfect. You should always love Mom. But Mom's not necessarily buying the new car ramps or the trampoline for the kids. That’s not to say they're not influencers, but understand who is going to be making those decisions and if it is Mom that's great.  If it's Dad or a Dad and Mom or if it's the boss or if it's the treasurer, or your financial officer in the company you really, truly need to know who you're going after to make your ads work harder, be more impactful and importantly cost you less, 

yes cost you less.


You will get a better return on investment and give you more to spend for future marketing if you take the time to identify who it is you want to go after. What message you want to put in front of them and which media best reaches them. Believe me, after three decades, I can tell you it is well worth the research to know your audience.  


Okay, so what you're looking for are some characteristics which consistently define your audience. Then you can create your desired message using the right radio station or website, outdoor media, or newspapers that efficiently and effectively reaches them.


As I mentioned in Article # 1, take the time to test the ad, or multiple ads on a small scale to see what works. Spend small to see what’s working before you open up the wallet big-time. You'll have a lot of coding in place and a lot of planning to do. However it will pay dividends when you hit the sweet spot of the ad, or the ad in the right media or media mix that brings in the customers. By the way, many of your media sales reps should be able to give you detailed profiles from all of their resources to give you a clear handle on who you’re after. Let them do some leg-work. Tell them who you want to reach. In many cases it's a very specific age and income bracket that you're after.

You want to see how well their media, whatever radio station, magazine,  newspaper, it happens to be, you want to see how well their media gets in front of those audience members and eyeballs on a regular basis, so can you track how well they're performing. Respectfully, I don't mean just ‘Likes’. That's not that's not really a true measurement of how well the product is doing. You want a measurable return on investment.  If all you're getting is 500 likes or 35 shares etc., that’s nice. However that’s not what your marketing is about. It should be bringing you back at least a dollar for every dollar you put out there.  You want your target group to be buying. Not just liking. You want to be able to say that we spent $1,000 for this ad and it brought in $2,000 dollars worth of new business. 


When you are testing your ads, take the time to do it on a small scale. Refine your message and your audience. Here's the best analogy that I will leave you with, you don't need to eat a whole bowl of soup to find out if it's salty usually one or two spoonfuls will tell you. 

Here’s a little bonus to help you along in your planning, my Media Briefing Template  and a special offer for 9 Secrets E-book.




Thursday, September 14, 2017

As we saw in article number one, Testing remains front and centre the most important, powerful and effective thing you can do to help your advertising. Regardless of the budget, the message, or the media placement you make.  You need to test and test and keep testing because there is going to be an opportunity for improvement, however modest, in each and every ad. Those cumulative changes can be absolute gold showing you what your customers want and need, and are prepared to put their hand up for. Now that you have testing ingrained and under your skin it's going to be part and parcel of every ad moving forward, correct ? Good.  I'm thrilled to learn that you're onboard with that.


Mistake Number Two that I've seen too often through the years is that far too many advertisers are jumping in at any time without rhyme and reason, not thinking if this is the best seasonality to be in front of the target. Now I understand very few advertisers can afford to be there all the time running their campaign at full throttle, and that's not unexpected.


You have to have some rather deep pockets to keep an ongoing campaign all of the time. You can quickly make yourself broke if you keep marketing, but not testing to see if the ads are working. The whole idea is salesmanship. That goes back to John E. Kennedy in 1904. 


His story starts in a saloon, where most good ones should start. In 1904, he sent a note to Albert Lasker, the new young President of Lord & Thomas ad agency…Let’s go back 110+ years At only 23, Albert Lasker had already earned enough money from salary and bonuses to buy Daniel Lord's shares when Lord retired. One day, he was sitting in Ambrose Thomas's office and a secretary handed a note to Thomas that said: "I am downstairs in the saloon. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word 'Yes' down with the bellboy. Signed – John E. Kennedy."


Thomas scoffed at the note, but Lasker was intrigued and sent the word 'Yes' down to the saloon. Kennedy was shown into Lasker's office. He was a strapping 6-foot tall, ex-Mountie who used to write ads for the Hudson's Bay Company. Could he be more Canadian? (Image Source: buildingpharmabrands) When Kennedy asked Lasker if he knew what advertising was, Lasker said, "I think so. It's news." Kennedy said no, news was just a technique .The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

Those three words would change the advertising world forever…"Salesmanship in print" was an epiphany to the advertising world in 1904. Essentially, Kennedy was saying that advertising had to persuade.  It had to give people reasons to buy the product. It had to convince.Up until then, all advertising was just straight facts. Here's the product, here's what it costs. That's kinda why you’re marketing isn't it? (More of this story can be found at this link)


Regardless of what you're selling, a product or service, you want to sell something. so make sure every ad is a sales opportunity for you. Here's what I'd like you to do. Maybe some of you are already doing this and if so that's fantastic, because it will give you a much better understanding of your spending and your planning.


The biggest challenge for many advertisers is not anticipating when their best sales periods are going to be. They end up jumping at every advertising opportunity from each well-intended media sales person, who comes through the door. In the majority they are all very good people and I have some wonderful relationships with many of my sales reps going back decades, which is amazing. They have become true allies for me in making a campaign, which works incredibly hard for my clients. I applaud them and I continue to do business with them.


Please understand their mandate is to sell. To sell the advertising space or time or placement. They want to see you do well but they also want to see some money. Remember it is in their interest to get you to advertise as often as possible with their publication, their website, their outdoor board, their radio station, and kudos to them, they should be. 


But that can really stretch a budget if you're trying to be there all the time, and you're not sure what you should be doing. So here's a simple tip that will really help crystallize for you what your timings should be like.   I want you to map out an entire year on a spreadsheet. Oh it can be any fiscal if you prefer but for simplistic sake I try to stick to a calendar, January to December. (If you’d like a Sample Yearly Calendar, send an e-nail to with Sample Yearly Calendar in the subject line, and I’ll send you a copy)


I want you to pick any two sales periods. If you have more, that's great but two is easier to work with.  So the times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability, will determine the key sales potential period. Let's say April and May for spring and then November and December for winter are your best sales carrots.  I actually have several clients in different industries where that is exactly the case. Those are the pivotal periods for them. What I want you to do is devote up to 50% of your annual ad budget to support these two windows.


That's where perhaps upwards of 80% of your business is coming from. You should be giving those two key periods the best opportunity to maximize your exposure. I encourage you to put much of your marketing muscle in these periods because they are driving the majority of your revenue.  These are the key times that you want to be making sure your name is out there on an ongoing basis, and they will get your most attention and your most support.


Okay, with those in place, the remaining eight months of the year will share the remaining 50% of the budget. Perhaps you devote 30% to six months and 20% to the final two months. You can allocate that as you feel comfortable, and as your cash flow allows. In my experience, this gives you an opportunity to have sustained presence, to have even some modest exposure, so you’re always on your prospects radar. You don't have to be running full-throttle all the time. This allows you to ramp up your presence in the four heaviest months split between spring and winter. You have maybe six months that are second tier and that need some increased support. Importantly, they're not the same demand period as your key period, so you don't  have to be with your foot on the pedal quite as aggressively through those time blocks. The intensity is not as critical as your primary periods. 


Then the lightest months for some advertisers, often the summer window, June through August, when people are at last vacationing, or not really thinking of work because the outdoor beckons, those might be your lighter periods. Please keep some spending out there, you don't want to lose all of the equity and all of the awareness that you've built up through your spring periods. Remember you want to have some ongoing presence, however modest, just to make sure that your key audience knows that you're still in there pitching. Your lightest months can just be a sustaining presence. 


The times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability will determine the key sales potential period. Bear in mind, this is only one of many deployment strategies I've discovered. I’ve had the great good fortune of working with both large and small ad agencies and working with some advertisers who had very modest budgets, and some of who have very deep pockets.  You don't have to spend more than your competition. Certainly it helps to increase your media exposure when you have multiple opportunities there. However, you just have to spend smarter, at the right times. So take the time to map out on a calendar what your key sales periods are and maybe those are Spring & Fall. Maybe, just pre-Christmas, but take the time to find out.


This is the single biggest advertising tip I can give you. Importantly, plan and buy early.  Planning months in advance, you will save yourself an enormous amount of grief. No less critical, you will save an enormous amount of money by booking early. I can’t stress that enough. You can save from 30% to 60% or more by buying EARLY.


So take the time to Plan Your Campaign Timing Carefully and Spend Smarter. 



In appreciation of Masthead Readers, you can order my Bestseller – 57 Media Spikes book at 40% off through Amazon for $17.74 Cdn, and if you order two or more copies, they ship for FREE. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

It strikes me that there are quite a number of opportunities out there for you to showcase your product or service using just about any form of media and that's fantastic. There is no shortage of media players and opportunities, but what I found the most powerful is utilizing all of those resources to their respective individual and then collective advantages. Sometimes things work wonderfully well using the more traditional radio, television, newspaper, magazine, or out of home advertising. More recently some advertisers have had some success with one or more of the social media platforms and that's terrific. I think they should all be embraced and be part of your media mix.


Please make no mistake that it should genuinely be a mix of media because you never know exactly which particular component is going to pull the trigger and get your target group to say; that's for me, that's the product that I want! You want to make sure you give yourself every opportunity to be seen and to be heard to promote whatever service or product you have out there. You want to stand head and shoulders above the crowd, in front of as many of the right crowds as possible.


So, what I'd like to share with you starting today is a series of the Top Ten Mistakes in Advertising that I've seen through these three decades of being a professional media planner and buyer and share some secrets and tips on how to avoid them. We're going to space this out one at a time, today being the intro will perhaps be a tad longer . I do hope you will you will indulge me but let's get started with Mistake Number One.  


The single biggest mistake I see repeated over and over and over again is the failure to test and measure your ads. All too often too many advertisers simply write a cheque for the ads in the newspaper, online, TV, radio, regardless of the media and simply hope for the best.


Well as many of you will attest, hope marketing really doesn't pay an awful lot of bills. You wouldn't put your own product, table lamps, lawnmowers, keyboards, post hole diggers, floor tiles, into the marketplace without putting them through an extensive battery of tests to see if they can live up to your standards. You’re testing the ad that sells the product and, unfortunately, maybe you've encountered this yourself, or you know a friend who had this happen to them. They put all of their muscle into one media without finding out how effective it could be on a smaller scale and all they heard was crickets. That's a devastating sound when you're in advertising, so here’s what I want you to do. 


Here is how you fix this mistake. What you want to do is to see how every single piece of creative is performing in each magazine, website, outdoor ad, and/or radio commercial. You should have an identifier, a tag of any description that's exclusive to that ad so you can go back and say we invested X number of dollars in this media and it brought us two returns, five returns, a thousand returns, whatever.


This helps you to know exactly what worked that helps you on future campaigns by identifying  what has been your best performer. It challenges you to come up with even better ads, better media mixes, better dollar spending, because now you know what's performing.  So when you're preparing your ads make sure that all of that creative excellence that's been developed has a chance to be evaluated and measured so you can go back and track it. You can see how engaged your audiences are, like how many times did they purchase the product, how many times did they go to the website, how many times that they raised their hand to say I like your product and I want more info.


That's what you want to deliver. So code your ad with the coupon exclusive to that campaign or magazine. Create a different URL or even a 1-800 number that can be tracked and monitored for every single ad.  You want to see how each ad is doing. Then, only then, only then can you tell if it's working and giving you a return on the investment. You are setting a template that will help you refine every ad moving forward. And if you get it right, right out of the gate, then kudos to you and congratulations. 


But, there's always going to be some refinement, some improvements, some opportunity to tweak subsequent ads. There is a famous advertising gentleman by the name of John Caples who was an aggressive and prolific advertising tester, way before the Internet came onboard. He discovered through testing different headlines of one ad he raised the performance 19.5 times. Same product, same newspaper or magazine, same service, same price point, all he did was change the headline multiple times until he found one that struck gold. You want a good return?  Two times, three times better?  Try 19.5  times better!  That's the difference that testing delivers.  Please remember when you're testing there is no failure, there's only results.


One enterprising client in my history treated it this way too. He came from a financial background so each ad to him was considered a different mutual fund in his portfolio and he named them before they went into the media. Now, because they were coded in names he liked, he was able to remember them but he was able to soon see how well each of his investments, as he put it, was performing. And he put more money against the ads which were performing and changed any ads which were underperforming to a new one. 


So my message to you for tip number one is to Track Every Single Ad you prepare. It's the only way to accurately measure what's working.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Welcome to checkpoint number six.

Number six in our series of six and the final summary of 57 Media Spikes.

Whew—you can exhale now. Thanks for staying along for the ride. Including these checkpoint summaries, you've been with me for 63 messages. Abut 6 months along now. I hope you've enjoyed and have been able to use some of the tips and ideas in your business practice to improve your business.

#51: Waiting on tables. Powerful place based marketing by one enterprising jeweller gave them a big creative footprint that literally put their catalogue in the foodcourt. Top of Mind from Top Of Table.

#52: What's the best media? WELL- let me ask you...What do you want to do? Who do you want to reach? How much can you afford to spend? What do you want to say? Every campaign has —or should—have their own media mix. And magazines, well they are a perfect place to be a good storyteller.

#53: Radio. The music is the bridge that connects my past to my present. Radio is always theatre of the mind because the listener is painting the special effects in their own mind from the narrative you provide. We also gave you a link to our 10 part series on radio by clicking here.

#54: Television advertising is alive and well and living in your living room, basement, bedroom, kitchen, garage, handheld, laptop and our thirst for it is unquenchable.  When you're advertising, TV means you are on stage performing. Don't miss your chance to shine.

#55: While social media is gaining traction and usage, it remains a sociable environment, and less so a sales environment. But like all other media, it is evolving to find ways to monetize itself. Right now it seems you need to work very hard to make your ads work rather than your ads working hard for you.

#56: On The Road Again with Willie Nelson and the thousands of billboards he's seen in a lifetime of touring. Outdoor media is your chance to Make Some Noise Without a Sound. We also provided a link to our 10 part series on outdoor media by clicking here.

#57: You are HERE! Just like our series opened. We've explored lots of media options, history and links to multiple sources that I hope were worth the price of admission - Your name and email address was worth it to me.

The 57 Media Spikes email series has come to its conclusion, but also come to a transition the inner circle if you'd like to continue to receive additional media commentary.

Thank you.  I look forward to seeing you as part of the Spike of Angels Inner Circle

It has been my privilege. Thank you. Be well.


Dennis Kelly

100 Days Of Summer Savings

In appreciation of your loyalty, and in recognition that June 2015 marks my 20th Anniversary owning First Impressions Media, and as my way atoning for the link hiccup, you are offered a 20th Anniversary discount.

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Thank you dear Masthead readers for your loyalty. My regrets for any inconvenience you encountered.  I hope you enjoy Nine Secrets and I encourage you to invest in YOU with this Special, One Time Only, 20th Anniversary offer for $20.
About Me
Dennis Kelly
A professional to his fingertips, Dennis Kelly of First Impressions Media brings a deft touch as your media magician. Extracting incremental media value for you from suppliers is second nature for Dennis. His versatility in all media is bred of 3 decades of hands-on media planning & buying experience in the media trenches. As a steward of your media budget, Dennis excels in delivering smart, efficient, creative and targeted campaigns to showcase your creative to the right audience.

Dennis is the author of “ 9 Secrets of How To Improve Your Advertising” and is available to Masthead Reader for $197 through a special offer at this link
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Thank you Gloria. What a perfectly apropos link. Thank you for sharing that. You are quite correct. ...
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