MASON CITY | A successful advertising campaign depends on two things: frequency and consistency, local advertising managers say.

"You can't run one ad and expect the world," said Greg Wilderman, Globe Gazette retail advertising manager.

When wanting to advertise a product or service, potential advertisers need to establish themselves with consumers in order to compete, Wilderman said.

"If you're not out there with a consistent message, people will forget and you'll have to re-establish yourself and re-educate people," he said.

Wilderman cited Walmart and Target, two brands with which most people are familiar.

"But still they advertise 52 weeks of the year because they know if they don't, someone else will be working to take over their share of the market," Wilderman said.

McDonald's is one of the most well-known companies in the world and yet the company spends an "astronomical" amount on marketing, Wilderman said.

"And why do they do that? Because they don't want to lose their market share."

Olivia Stalker, Globe Gazette online manager, said consumers are looking for any number of products and services at any one time. 

"You want your business to be the one that they think of when they want your services or product," she said. "Have you positioned yourself to be the business that comes to mind when they want your service?"

Successful advertisers also gear their ads to the audience they want to reach.

"Some you'll reach through the newspaper, others online, through the digital newspaper or mobile phone," Stalker said.

Wilderman agreed that advertisers today have to think multi-media.

"You have to have some combination of the old traditional (newspapers, radio, television) and the digital and mobile — new media. Otherwise you're going to miss people," he said. "Advertising as a whole is so fragmented now."

The ad message and how you say it also are critical.

"The creativity and content of the ad is important, depending on the media you're using," Stalker said.

"People are so busy that you only have a very small window of opportunity to catch their attention," said Wilderman.

The message should be relevant and targeted and should fit the image of their business, whether it's a funeral home, a high-end clothing store or an outlet furniture shore.

"You've got to know what your niche is," Wilderman said. "The message needs to fit that."

Sometimes, depending on your product, it's fine to use a creative, possibly humorous, attention-getting device, Stalker said.

"But don't stray from the message."

Make sure the consumer doesn't get lost in the humor and forget what it is you're selling.

Advertisers should also make sure the consumer understands what it is they want him or her to do.

"You have to ask for what you want," Wilderman said. "For example, 'Call today for a free estimate.' If you want people to come, you have to invite them to stop in," he said. "The call to action has to fit the outcome you desire. You can't just expect people to do what you want them to do."

Remember, too, that sales consultants can help put together an effective campaign.

"You may want to go local rather than call an 800 number, people who have experience in the local market," Stalker said. "Some have lots of experience as to what works and what doesn't work."

Julie Bauer, marketing and social media administrator at First Citizens Bank and Trust in Mason City, said the first step in an ad campaign is determining a goal, whether it's increased sales of a product or a service or attracting more email subscribers.

The second step is identifying your audience, whether it's senior citizens, women, homeowners or teens.

"Don't try to be everything to everybody. Just target a certain audience," Bauer said.

 "Make sure you know who your competitors are so you can see what they're doing and tailor your ad to make it distinguishable from the rest," Bauer said. "What makes you unique? You have to figure out what your competitive advantage is."

Next, figure out what your image is so you can be consistent through the media outlets you choose.

Having a logo is great, but at least "convey the same message, the same verbage, the same image" in your ads, Bauer said.

At the same time, you need to determine what media you're going to use based on who your target audience is.

"Figure out what your audience pays attention to," Bauer said.

This can be determined by talking with members of the target audience or running questions by a focus group to see what your target group responds to the most.

It is also important to diversify your message using additional channels to get your name across, whether with signage or a business card. A rule of thumb is that a customer needs to see a message 10 times or more before it sinks in, Bauer said.

Also be sure to have a call to action. Ask your audience to do something. Create a sense of urgency. An example is, "Call us today."

Once the ads are out, monitor the effect it is having, Bauer said. Ask new customers how they heard about you or set up a website to elicit their thoughts.

Molly Watson, director of marketing and communications at Clear Lake Bank and Trust, said it's important to make sure all company employees are on board when an ad campaign is launched.

"Before launching it publicly make sure all employees are informed about it so they can answer questions that may arise in the community," Watson said.

She agreed that consistency in an ad campaign is critical.

"Consistency's very important across the various media so that when people see your advertisements it all looks and feels like your brand," she said.

Good graphics and a simple message are key, Watson said, "so that people can understand what you're communicating without having to think too hard about it."

Meagan Steinberg, marketing and public relations coordinator at Overhead Door Co. in Mason City, said using a mix of media outlets to put out your message is vital.

"Use anything that's going to help you get your information in front of potential customers."

Overhead Door, for example, has a branding campaign that is ongoing, Steinberg said.

"We want to stay top of mind so when they do need a garage door people think of us," she said.

Factors such as the reputation of the company and how it treats customers are important to get across in the advertising, qualities that make you stand out from competitors, Steinberg said.

Overhead Door works with an advertising agency to help with the creative aspect of its ads, she said.

"It's definitely an investment," she said, "but I think it's helped our advertising stand out from what you might see day to day."

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