by Gary Cole
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AMOUNT YOU SHOULD SPEND
There are many different opinions on this but in my opinion you should be spending at least ten percent but not more than thirty percent of your gross income on advertising. Make sure you are able to manage your growth and the money given out is reaping a positive cash flow.
CASH OUT, CASH IN
This is the most important factor in your marketing. Every single time you get a booking you need to ask the question... "how did you find out about us". If you spend money in multiple areas (and you should) ask and record the results. Keep a tally of how many bookings you get from each source. At the very least, you should be breaking even on your dollars spent. In other words, if you spent $60 on running an ad in the local newspaper then you should be booking $60+ in additional revenue. Keep in mind it is not just a cash out cash in thought. If you spent $60 then you better be bringing in more than $60 as you have used your supplies, your gas and certainly your time and talents. If an ad is not paying off then make some changes or drop it all together.
There are hundreds of ways to spend your marketing dollars and all should be considered. It can be as small as getting more of your business cards printed out and being more generous as you hand them out and leave them everywhere. Post them everywhere you possibly can from the public library bulletin board to leaving some at the local restaurant. There are family magazines in most populated areas that target families. The ever present Yellow Pages are a common way to advertise. When investing your money you take a higher risk when putting your money in one stock. It is better t put your money into a mutual fund for security because they tend to invest in multiple stocks. This way if one company fails your whole portfolio does not tank. The same applies to your advertising. Spread your money around for the best secure strategy.
SHORT TERM VERSUS LONG TERM
If you run a one time ad in a city publication you have invested $50 to $100 and you can measure results with minimal impact. If that ad works out and brings you in business then run it again. Yellow Pages can be very good for some but know going into it that you are generally making a twelve month commitment. At $150 per month you are already committed to $1800 and you have no real idea that you can break even quickly.
GO SMALL OR GO LARGE
You can run a small ad and pay less or run a large colorful ad and be seen first on the page. Obviously the larger you go the more it will cost and the more it will take for you to break even. My suggestion is to start small and grow your ad. Keep the best balance by always continuing to monitor and track results. Sometimes you are better in making multiple small ads rather than one large flashy one. I tend to stay closer to the smaller ads. In the Yellow Pages I take almost the smallest ad available.
Make sure you know what you are getting into. A couple pitfalls are common. For example... with Yellow Page ads there might be multiple providers in your area. Look for your target area and find out who the primary carrier is. If most of the phones in your target area are with AT&T then you might want to run your ad in theirs versus the Verizon Yellow Pages. Also make sure of the target. If you only are willing to drive thirty miles from your home then you do not want to pay for Yellow Page spots on those areas outside that area. Most Yellow Page ads are charged by the number of areas or books they go in to.
WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR AD
Flash versus detail is always a challenge. You want to put enough there so they look at your ad but enough detail for them to call you first. Once you start to advertise you will get a lot of people shopping for price. Or they might have lots of questions. The more information you give them the quicker they can come to a decision. Give them too much information and they will move on to the next ad. Ask yourself what they are looking for. I suggest a bright photo of face painting on a child to catch their attention and then minimum details. If your rates are very competitive I suggest you state "Rates starting at $XX" and plug in your amount. At the very least ad your company name, your phone number and a web site. You might also add the other services you offer if you do more than face painting. If you have a web site put it in your ad as they can use it to do more research about you and your company.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
This might apply to a restaurant or a retail store but it also applies to face painting. If you advertise where your competitor does, ask about placement. If you are in the Yellow Pages it simply will be done alphabetically. If it is in a magazine with twenty other face painters then you want to make sure you are on page one and not page four. A typical mom will call four or five locations and check out prices and services and place her booking. If you are on page four then do not expect a lot of calls. HINT: If it is a booklet it is better to post your ad on the right page instead of the left.
A large oak tree started from an acorn. If you want an oak tree in the front yard you can pay over $1000 for one more mature or $19.95 for one that will grow. It is ok to start small and start to measure results. You can build a starter web site for $25 or you can pay a geek thousands and have a flashy site. In the end it will be harder to break even the more you spend. I always say start smaller with less risk and if it pays off then grow it as you see fit.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE THE AXE
As you track your results, make sure you are not afraid to pull out the axe and cut a non-producing ad. If it is not working analyze why and then make your decision. Sometimes you just need to revamp it and try again. On some ads you simply will have poor results. Cut the losses and move on.
DO NOT BECOME STALE
This is a common flaw. If you advertise often, you might consider changing out your ad every once in a while. If it is a family magazine then you can even say on even months run this ad and on odd months that one. In November and December run this Holiday one. You want to roll with the seasons and appear fresh.
THINK AND BE SMART ABOUT YOUR TARGET
I've seen so many people make this mistake. Do not do it. If your target market is to do children's parties and face painting then use the photo of a good looking child painted with a smile on their face. You might wish to show off the photo of a body you painted in your ad but that is not going to bring you children's parties. You might even have a wonderful thirty minute face on a child and your ad bomb. The reason why is the mom is thinking... "I'm not going to hire them as I want all twelve children at my party painted in the time of the party. Faces like that, then only two children will be painted." In my opinion you want to post your best five or six minute face. Do not make it too complex as it will be a turn off.
LOOK AROUND EVER CORNER
There are a thousand ways to spend your marketing dollars. Always be open to looking at new options. Start small in new areas and grow them as you continue to explore.
SLING IT ON THE WALL
You all have heard the saying "throw it at the wall and see what sticks". That applies to advertising. If you have a marketing budget and have a few extra dollars left, try out a new location. That $60 ad in a new publication might generate you thousands of dollars of business.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
As you grow you will find ad opportunities will be able to find you. Think of your target and where you want to grow or do not want to grow. Learn from your mistakes. As an example we had some success in doing bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs in our area for thirteen year children making this religious Jewish rite of passage. We were approached about an ad in the publication that is mailed out in our area and we thought we should try it out. Keep in mind that we tend to not accept bookings for Sundays as most of our workers prefer to not work on Sunday. Well for the Jewish faith Saturday is their Sabbath and Sunday is their play date. After running our ad we found out that most of the bar and bat mitzvahs are held on Sunday so we targeted events we did not want to get.
UPSIZE AND NEGOTIATE
When you find a new advertising opportunity negotiate. Tell them your corporate advertising philosophy. Did you forget it already? Your policy is to.... at a minimum have revenue in, to pay for advertising dollars out. If the ad works it stays, if it does not it gets cut. Tell them this and you will be surprised that you get a top location or they give you an upgrade in the size of your ad for free as they know you will pull the ad if it has poor results. Also for the first ad they might give you an introductory rate. Ads have volume breaks. You pay one price to run your ad for one month and a much lower rate if you run it twelve months in a row. For a first run ad they often will let you have the trial first month at the twelve month rate. For Yellow Page or other ads look at price points. There might be great savings if you pay for the whole year up front versus monthly billing cycles.
LOOK AT THE FINE PRINT
Make sure you read the contract you are about to sign. Do not commit to anything you are not sure about. Start small and then grow. That Yellow Page ad will want their money each month for a year.
ARE YOU SURE?
Do not run an ad if you think you are going to move, change your phone number or the like.
MANAGE YOUR GROWTH
Once you spend money for marketing make sure you can meet up to the results. If you post a low price then they will cram it down your throat. Do not say $60 per hour if there are lots of variables. It might be better to say, "prices starting at $60." If you are a solo painter then be ready to duplicate yourself or be in four places at one time. It makes no sense to advertise if you have not thought of how you will manage the new business.
BANG FOR THE BUCK
Make sure as you track results you look at cost versus value. Some times the lower cost can bring you easy payoff. For example a $10 listing at www.rubyredpaint.com/free.htm might bring lots of people to you. Add another $5 and get a premium listing. That is a one time fee for the posting and you can take advantage of the 144,000,000 hits the www.rubyredpaint.com web site gets each year. Low costs to try something new. It only takes a typical face painter fifteen minutes worth of painting to pay for that ad.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
If they promise you great results for low costs then get the "promise" in writing. Yellow Pages will tell you they send out 5,000,000 books in your area. Then again when was the last time you looked for something in the Yellow Pages? I throw mine away. I'll add that I still advertise there as I know just because I toss them it does not mean that others do not use them.
Use the discussion list for face painters what works for them. You can sign up at www.rubyredpaint.com at the bottom of the page. Give your companies specific details and ask what works to meet your business model. Learn from others success and mistakes. There are lots of pitfalls in advertising and you want your hard earned dollars to give the best future results.
Owner of Ruby Red Paints USA Inc. and Party Faces Inc. in Dallas / Fort Worth
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