This advertising and marketing advice is applicable to businesses, products, departments, start-ups, establishing a name for themselves or their brand, or continuing to saturate the market with their brand name. Whether you are big or small, there is something out there for you.
The question isn’t whether to advertise or not, it is when and how you will advertise. How else are people supposed to know who you are?
I have seen many companies spend a ton of money on advertising and marketing campaigns. Some of those campaigns have paid out in huge dividends, but others have wasted money on campaigns that missed the mark. I have also been a part of creating creative campaigns for my brands that have been on a shoe-string budget.
Below are what I feel are the top ten advertising and marketing ideas for products in the firefighting, emergency medical services, and law enforcement fields. Consider these ideas, and that an actual “campaign” might involve one or more of these ideas implemented concurrently or consecutively to create a buzz about a brand or product.
In viewing these ideas, consider time spent on the idea, money spent on the idea, and the ability to understand and analyize the return on investment (ROI) as well as the ability to view progress of the idea or campaign. The list is in order from 10 to 1, 1 being the best in my eyes based on return of investment and not price-tag.
The scale is $-$$$$. The more the $ symbols the more the cost!
10. Print Advertising
Examples: Fire Engineering, Fire Rescue Magazine, Firehouse Magazine, JEMS, Police Magazine
Some might say it is old fashioned (I am one of them). Does print advertising have a value? YES. However, when compared to new media abilities and ideas, print marketing only provides “potential” reach and does not offer “actual” reach when analysing the value of the campaign once delivered. What I am saying is that when you purchase print marketing, the salesperson can tell you how many magazines will be delivered with your advertisement in it. They cannot tell you how many people will put their hands on it, nor how many times each person will put their hands on it. They also cannot tell you if the reader will actually flip to the page where your ad resides in a publication. Print advertising usually costs a pretty penny when talking about the leading market magazines. Although the less circulated event programs might be cheaper, you have to consider their potential reach. Other print advertising mediums: magazines, newsletters, catalogs, event programs $$$$
9. Facebook Ads
Marketing through facebook ads can serve one of two purposes. You can get traffic to your web site or you can get traffic to your Facebook fan page. Facebook fan pages are a great asset to create conversation between your brand and your fans. You can use your fan page to ask questions, draw attention to your web site, post products, get feedback, and communicate. Facebook ads are not very expensive. You can opt to pay by the impression or by the click. I have used both of these formats and have found them to be well worth the investment for the price. Of course, it is all about the image you use for your ad! You can control the demographics of the people the ad will appear in front of as well as the keywords that your ad will show on pages of (types of pages and users). $$
8. Online advertising on leading market web sites
Web sites which lead the market in fire, EMS, and police substantiate their existence with advertising. It is what pays the bills. Many of these sites have accompanying print magazines, however they are run by separate teams…yes even the advertising team. Every one of these web sites offers many different types of online advertising like ad banners, text links, product articles, and newsletter advertising. Most also incorporate advertising on their Facebook fan pages as well. Advertising with the conglomerates can be costly, but they have the a lot of reach. A huge benefit of online advertising with these web sites is the ability to track click-throughs, impressions, and conversions. These sites are National or even International in reach with readers all over the World. Don’t let that dissuade you if you are looking for advertising in a specific region, State, or even Country though. Most of these web sites should have the ability to run ads for users from areas you want to reach. $$$
7. Link advertising
Basically, we are talking about a text link on other web sites. Typically, this will mean in an article, post, or links page or sidebar. The easiest way to get this done is to trade links. Put up a link to other sites and then email them and ask for a reciprocal link. If you don’t have a links page, or want to increase the chances of having that text link appear on other sites, you could offer some money to have your link appear. The price for the link will depend on the popularity of the page you are trying to get a link on. Free to $
6. Online advertising in market blogs (individual blogs)
This is where I think more and more companies should be looking to advertise and connect. The reason is because companies can connect with individual bloggers and web site administrators forming a relationship. It is more feasible to formulate a campaign that hits directly what you want. Whether you want an ad banner, text ad, article written about your product, or something else you can speak with the writer directly and ask for what you want. Be aware though, most bloggers will entertain writing an article about a product they DO NOT want to be told what to say. You have to realize that the bloggers/writers have an image to uphold. They do not want to be viewed as a sell out especially if they do not like your product. Start off with advertising on their site and ask to speak in the future about an article maybe. These bloggers have very low overhead, but like to make some money along the way. Most bloggers aren’t going to know their exact value when it comes to advertising. Be sure to check them out on Alexa or Compete.com to see what their traffic is. $
5. Product Reviews
Examples: FireCritic.com Reviews, Fire Rescue Magazine Gear Tests
Product reviews offer companies the ability to put a product in a writers hands and see what they think about it. If you have a great product, you have nothing to worry about. The review might bring up conversation about the product and feedback on it as well. Currently there aren’t many sources for product reviews. In all honesty (maybe a little bias), FireCritic.com offers probably the best market for product reviews for fire and EMS products. Many of the print magazines offer gear tests or product reviews, but I am unsure of the cost. Some of them might be syndicated on the accompanying web site for the printed magazine. Probably the easiest way to get a product reviewed is by contacting a reputable blogger in your market. Most bloggers will do a product review with the understanding that the blogger will get to keep the product once the review is completed. The bigger sites probably offer gear tests or product reviews as part of an advertising campaign and will cost money. In the future, the reviews at FireCritic.com will be available on a larger market with other bloggers involved. To view information on product reviews as well as past reviews right here on FireCritic.com click here. Free to $$ (depending on cost of product reviewed)
4. Marketing through Collective Buying web sites
These types of web sites are new to the realm of public safety. They offer no up front cost marketing and target the markets in which the deals (products) are offered. The deals are offered in limited time and quantity. The deals are designed to attract new customers, referrals, and market the brand. The deals are shared among others via social media. Businesses control the terms, quantity, and price of the deals. While this is new to the fire, EMS, and police markets, it is a HUGE market outside and was made popular by companies like Groupon and Living Social. As the trend continues, the benefits of using collective buying sites will increase. These sites make money on a percentage of the vouchers sold. Depending on the deal, the company might take a loss on the sale of the product. What it is important to realize is that the marketing reach has a value that the company is not paying for up front. Even if you take a $1 loss per item and sell 100 items to 100 individuals, the marketing campaign only cost $100 and you received 100 new customers, their email addresses, and sold products. That is cheap! $
3. Online Contests
Contests are a great way to increase your reach. Whether it is a twitter contest, Facebook contest, or contest on your web site you can create a buzz around a product. If you plan on running a Facebook contest, sure to research Facebook’s rules for running contests before you dive in though. There are companies available to help you run contests and increase your reach and effectiveness of a contest. Twitter contests revolve around people retweeting and following you to enter. It is a great way to get people to retweet your username and increase followers. I have found twitter contests to drastically increase my number of followers. Sure, some will unfollow you once the contest is over, but not many. $-$$ depending on the prizes
2. Online advertising in local web sites
Local could be a City, region, or State. There are many web sites which specialize in information for “local” users. The topics and information is catered to the area in which the web site services. These web sites have smaller reach than National or International web sites. However, this can be very beneficial to certain campaigns because the cost will be lower and the reach is concentrated on certain areas. For instance, if you are a company in Virginia you might want to focus your advertising on users from just that State. VAFireNews.com focuses on news and information for Virginia (call me biased as I also run VAFireNews.com). These sites have lower overhead than the larger conglomerates and are often run by one person or a small team. They can offer lower prices and should because their reach and traffic is not the same as larger web sites.$-$$
1. Online Ad Networks
These ad networks have a lot of reach depending on the amount of sites their ads appear on. The bonus here is that the ads appear on all kinds of sites. They might include fire, EMS, and police sites. The sites might also include leading market web sites, blogs, forums, and message boards. Be sure and ask where else your ad might be able to be incorporated. ESAN ads appear on some of the best fire and EMS blogs, fire and EMS local web sites, and FirefighterNation.com. I have used advertising on ESAN numerous times and have always been happy with the campaign. EMSBlogs.com offers advertising on their blogs which includes some great EMS blogs. PSClicks.com offers text and banner advertising. $-$$$
Another online ad network worth mentioning is Google Ads.
Google ads are very similar to Facebook Ads. You choose the keywords you want your ad to run with and your ad (either text or banner) will appear on those pages of search terms or other web sites. In order for your ad to appear on a site outside of google search they have to be using google ads on their site. For the money, it is well worth a try, but there are better avenues for ensuring your ads are running on sites related to the content you want your ad showing up on. $$