…and how that affects sales
This article is about how the mediums we use to get our business ‘out there’ has changed over the past 30 years and what has stayed the same that we might have forgotten.
If your childhood was like mine, computer-less, then you’ll remember it used to be, there was one place you had to be in if you stood any chance of being recognised as a legitimate business.
It was a huge fat directory called the Yellow Pages. It was published once a year and listed all the businesses alphabetically, arranged by category. There different books/directories that covered different geographical areas.
Size is everything
You paid a fee to appear in the directory, which was anything from a few hundred pounds for a couple of bold lines to a few thousand for a whole page ad. The order you got listed in depended on the size ad you had and where in the alphabet your company name was.
Like with search results today, if you didn’t appear on the first few pages, you didn’t stand much chance of getting any business, so business owners learned to be creative with their business names creating names that began Aa or A1 to get a coveted space in the first few pages of your category.
You ad lasted a year. If you started your business or added new services/products between publications, you had to resort to other advertising methods, like local paper advertising or leaflet dropping.
Your success was somewhat determined by the size and placement of your advert, which was directly related to how much money you spent on your advert.
Your advert had to be clear, succinct, eye-catching and convey in the restricted space what you did. So if you had more than one service, you took out multiple ads for each category to gain maximum coverage.
That’s how it was in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s.
Then the internet came along and it all become a level playing field. No longer was it about how much money you had and how big your ad was or getting a name that began with the letter A. It didn’t matter when you started your business or if you added more services. You could get your message out there as soon as you got your website ready.
You could also put so much more information about your services and it cost the same because it was your website, owned by you, not by any directory. You had control over where in the listings it appeared by being clever with SEO and making sure your website had relevant content.
You could add new services, special offers and promotions whenever you liked. You could compete with the big players in your field.
Then along came social media and the marketing game took another turn. Social media gave customers a voice. Customers could rave or complain about the services they received. Customers’ experiences influenced (and very much still do) the purchasing decisions of their friends and contacts. Testimonials and reviews have now become valuable marketing currency.
But the one thing that has remained the same?
Remember back to the Yellow Pages ads? You had limited words or space to convey succinctly how you help a customer so they feel compelled to make that call to you to find out more.
In today’s world, it’s not limited space, but limited time to convey to potential customers how you help them. This means you have similar challenge to 20/30 years ago – convey in just a few succinct words how you help a customer, so they feel compelled to read on. These words are are no longer in your Yellow Pages ads. These words are found in your subject heading for emails, heading titles in blogs and articles. They are your 144 characters in your posts and tweets.
So although the medium of getting ‘out there’ has changed and become far more accessible, it’s still as important as ever to create short attention grabbing headlines that compel your potential clients to read on.