Thursday, June 18, 2009

Minute for Marketing: Repeated Exposure With Signs

Minute for Marketing is a weekly series on advertising the independent teaching studio. Click here for all Minute for Marketing posts.

Marketing experts say that a potential client needs to see your advertising seven times before taking action on it. I suspect that notion of seven times comes from this amusing excerpt from The Art of Money Getting by P.T. Barnum, the father of modern advertising:
A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases."

When I think back to my first attempts to advertise my studio by running a newspaper ad for one week, I realize how uninformed I was! Marketing is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. But seven times? I can’t afford to run even the smallest ad in the newspaper for seven weeks. So what can the independent music teacher do to keep her name in the public eye for many repeated exposures without breaking the bank?

Consider yard signs and car signs. Yeah, I know – you’re afraid someone will mistake you for a plumber if you put a sign on your car. At first, I was worried that this kind of marketing would devalue my teaching. But, I’ve learned that when parents have lots of options for which extra-curricular activities they enroll their children in, they’re going to go with the one whose name they see the most. And when advertising is this cost-effective, it doesn’t make sense to pass it up.

Vistaprint offers full-color, double-sided corrugated plastic yard signs at around $12, and 17x11 magnetic car signs for about $20. Do you realize that you can have two of each for less than it would cost to run one business card-sized ad in one edition of the newspaper? (I have no affiliate agreement with Vistaprint. I just think their prices are amazing.) These signs can potentially last for years. For that reason, you should keep them simple – the name of your studio, assuming that the name of your studio communicates that you teach piano, and your web page or phone number. For your one-time purchase, you’ll get many repeated exposures. If you can afford to spring for aluminum signs, they’ll hold up longer, but expect to pay over $45 for a two-sided sign. Be sure to check your county’s sign ordinances before you put them out.

Consider posting a yard sign at an intersection near your studio, or ask permission to post it in a flower bed at the local grocery store, superstore, or home improvement store. Put them out for a few days, then move to another spot. The perfect time to put signs out is right before school resumes in the fall. Pick a busy Saturday. It can be very effective to put a sign out for several days, take it down for a while, then put it back in the same spot. I saw such a sign recently, made a mental note to look up the website, but I passed it several times without doing it. The sign disappeared and I forgot about it. A week or so later, the sign reappeared and jogged my memory. This time, I actually looked up the site. Why? Repeated exposure made me remember.

Magnetic car signs are great because you can use them when you’re out running errands or stow them in the trunk if you don’t feel like advertising that day. Remember that if you have signs on your car, people will size up your business based on the way you drive, dress, park, etc., so be on your best behavior. And, if you’ve headed back to the home improvement store to buy more paint in the middle of your big project, and you’ve got big splotches of “Maple Leaf Red” all over, that’d be a good time to take the signs off your car! I sometimes remember these things too late!

Photo by {platinum}.

Minute for Marketing by Laura Lowe is licensed under a Creative-Commons-Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


3 comments:

Veronica Lee said...

Hi, I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

Jennifer said...

A quick tip on the magnetic signs. I ordered mine from VistaPrint (love them as well!). My husband ran the car through the car wash and forgot to take off the signs. The water totally ruined them.

Laura said...

Veronica Lee: thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer: Good to know! Thanks for the heads up.