Three truths in advertising

My last blog post began to address the topic of integrated marketing, starting with public relations — not a typical starting point for many boutique marketing efforts. Today, I want to address advertising, sharing some insights I’ve gained from developing and implementing advertising programs internally for 10 years before partnering with a hospitality advertising specialist.

1. Advertising is a necessity. You must communicate with your target customers during each stage of their purchase process and inspire them to move to the next step — awareness, interest, intent to purchase, purchase and repurchase. Be certain your key messages are in front of your target customers in the right environments at the right times.

2. All advertising must contribute to building equity in the property’s brand. It must be informed by a focused, articulate brand platform. This platform must inform all communications as well as operations and the corporate culture.

3. Advertising must be planned and managed as part of a larger marketing communications program. By developing an integrated and highly strategic plan, the messages that reach target customers through the key communications channels reinforce each other and improve results. The channels are traditional and digital media advertising; public relations; electronic and print direct marketing; social media; sales support; on-property point-of-sale; and co-operative advertising.

Defining a plan and sticking with it — versus frequent redirection — saves money in the long run. A smart annual ad plan must include media and production contingency funds for unexpected need periods and highly valuable opportunities.

I have found, having handled advertising in house for several years, that using an ad agency that specializes in hospitality and offers highly skilled media counsel can be somewhat self-funding. Insightful planning and negotiating of the media budget can maximize the dollars spent and even result in substantial savings. Additionally, evaluating solicitations from and managing relationships with the flood of media reps today is very time consuming and warrants the expertise of an experienced third-party media professional.

I’ll continue the advertising discussion in my next post by addressing the link between brand and promotional advertising, online and offline channels and “splinternet” and social media issues that are part of the challenge for boutiques today.