07 September 2010

Where's the money...for us?

Where's the money...for us?

In the last couple of weeks, I have been contacted by The Executive Chef magazine and St James's House on behalf of the Royal Agricultural Society.  Both of them had the most wonderful advertising opportunities and we had been specially selected out of all businesses in the UK.  We really must appreciate the lauded company into which we have been specially allowed to enter. 

I think not; it really must be a deep recession if they are having to scrape the barrel trying to beg money out of me, a tight Northern curmudgeon.

The Executive Chef is running a one-off magazine and we were offered a full page at the heavily discounted price of £12,500 down from £22,000 (I perhaps correctly typed prize first as these really do sound like those spurious competitions you sometimes get rung up about, where you have won a special cruise trip around the Carribbean if only you can get to XYZ venue on a certain day to be flogged time shares).  The St James's House offer was a mere £5,500 for an entry in some book that will be circulated around politicians and civil servants - not a market that has any particular interest for us.

What annoys me about these hard sell tactics is not actually the wasted time, although that does irritate nor the fact that Steenbergs could never afford these levels of cost - these figures are just not even in a negotiating area as they are so way off the mark.  Rather it is the fact that they need to explain the benefits to me, i.e. how is it going to enrich Steenbergs as a business and not what a privilege it would be to be part of this special magazine or book or event.  I am not interested in privilege or famous people, so that will not move me, nor am I moved by vanity.  Perhaps, the only thing that can ever sway my mind is a well-timed cup of tea.

For advertising and marketing, I am interested in its financial return; I expect to get a provable level of extra sales of 4 times the cost of the advertisement which some think too high a hurdle.  And that is where the sales pitch falls flat as the salesmen (it does always seem to be men) can never explain how much return they would expect Steenbergs to get, nor will they do a deal where, for example, we pay 10% upfront and the remainder on success.

And that's why old style print advertising is really going to die out, as you cannot track the results as easily as online, plus the costs are way out of kilter with the rates available online.  So yes, it might work if you have a huge budget and are trying to create a general ambience around your brand as for a car or a lifetsyle brand, where you might put adverts in relevant magazines to support your more targetted marketing elsewhere.

So we will not be swayed from our chosen path of search engine optimisation, social networking and general online activity.  It is perhaps less sexy, but we feel much more comfortable with gentle and slow hard graft than fancy one-off jamborees.