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Today's question is: "How can I become a better advertiser?"

Today's Question is: "How Can I Become a Better Advertiser?"

I'm always flattered when a retailer discovers my profession and asks for advice on improving his advertising. I'm even more flattered when he follows my advice and reports some degree of success. Here's a sampling of some of the questions I'm frequently asked, along with my responses.

Q: I'm considering running some radio ads, which I have never done before. Am I right in assuming that I should just advertise on the number one station in the market and not even mess around with any of the other stations with lower ratings?

A: The number one station in your market should be your number one station only if it's able to do a good job of reaching your primary group of prospects. If it can't do that it's not worth squat as an advertising vehicle for you no matter how highly it's rated. Almost any station can juggle ratings data to be able to claim "#1" status with some demographic group -- 18 to 35 year old women, teens, even total adults. But you need to find the station or stations with the type of format that appeals to your best buying prospects and with the track record to prove that the people you're trying to reach actually listen to that station(s). Most shooting sports retailers identify 25--49 year old males as their best demographic target group. When you find that station(s) that can best deliver those listeners, that's where you should probably run your commercials because that's where you'll enjoy the highest degree of success and the greatest cost efficiency.

Q: I've been so busy lately I haven't been able to spend much time putting together my newspaper ads. Therefore they look bad and don't work too well. Can you give me some simple pointers that might help me improve my ads without spending a lot of time on them?

A: No. Because there really is no simple cure-all for making a bad ad good. You might as well ask for a quick and easy way to design and build a good gun. Some things just take time and know-how. Not that you can't sometimes create your own advertising materials, because you can. As long as you have the time to spend on them and the commitment necessary to continually learn new procedures and tricks of the trade. But, if your time is already at a premium, my best advice is to turn over your advertising to someone else, either an in-house employee with some advertising training or a professional ad agency or commercial artist. That's going to cost you some money, of course. But there comes a time when a retailer has to weigh the money he's saving by slapping together bad advertising material against the slightly higher cost of developing more effective, professionally produced advertising. He also has to ask himself how much his own time is worth and how serious he is about using advertising to make his business more successful.

Q: What does the term "camera ready" mean? And why is my printer willing to give me a price break if I give him "camera ready" materials?

A: A printer has to go through several "pre-press" operations before he's ready to actually print a brochure, price sheet, envelope, etc. In reverse order, he needs a plate to put on his press; the plate is produced from a negative which is shot on his special camera; he has to photograph that negative from a piece of finished artwork, usually referred to as "mechanical art," a "key-line," a "paste-up," or a "board." That final artwork is considered "camera ready" if it is mechanically perfect and ready to photograph with all the elements (photographs, illustrations, type, borders, etc.) already in-place and pasted down. Assembling that camera ready mechanical art to match a layout is a time consuming process. So if you can deliver camera ready art, the printer can eliminate that step and not charge you for his time. Of course, most retailers have neither the ability nor the equipment to produce camera ready art themselves, so they have to hire it done, anyway, usually by a commercial artist or an ad agency. That costs money, too -- oftentimes more than the printer would charge -- but the work is usually much better and much more "sell" oriented than that provided by a printer. As a retailer, you have to determine your own priorities: Which printed pieces deserve the special attention of a professional artist and which ones can be handled start to finish by you and/or your printer.

Q: Is it necessary to always include my store name in my ad headline?

A: Not at all. It's more important that your headline is dynamic enough to catch your readers' attention and pull them into the ad. Strong store identity is extremely important though, a feat which is best accomplished by prominently displaying your company logo usually at the bottom/center or bottom/right of the ad and by establishing a uniform look to your ads.

I would be interested in hearing your advertising questions too. Send them to me C/O Shooting Industry. I'll do my best to respond to your concerns in future columns.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Author:Grueskin, Robert
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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