Commercial Finance Marketing Strategy: To advertise or not to advertise—is it really worth the money?

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“Everything works and nothing works”

Do you ever find yourself wondering if advertising would help or are you asking how much you really get out of advertising efforts? You’re not alone. Advertising can be one of the best tools to grow your business or an absolute waste money. Here are some strategy recommendations when looking at advertising through print, online and social media.

Be targeted. If you have one universal equipment finance ad that goes in all publications or media channels…that’s bad. You need to speak directly to the audience you are trying to advertise to. Ever wonder why you darn near never see commercial finance ads in the Wall Street Journal or CFO Magazine? Because it is a general audience and the cost is extremely high…lousy ROI. But if you place a creative trucking ad in Transport Topics or an out of the box healthcare ad in the HFMA’s publication…then you have the foundation of greater success for the money.

Be creative. If your ad sucks, the strategy sucks. Get creative, off the wall, don’t be afraid to grab people by the ears and command attention. Vanilla corporate speak with cheesy banker-like dudes shaking hands is a tremendous waste of resources.

Be open to banner and online ads.  Print ads, while still valuable in many places, are expensive and it is really hard to show immediate ROI from them. Digital advertising though can show an immediate list in website hits and click through data—a great way to measure results. That single page print ad may be beautiful, but the sponsorship of the daily email blast of an industry pub might move the needle even further for you (and you can measure it).

Be connected to other marketing. All ads (in a perfect world) should easily drive to a customized web page that speaks directly to the needs of that audience and offers more content that demonstrates your credibility and expertise. Here the visitor should also be able to easily and obviously sign up for more insights from your company through email.

Be cautious about paying big for search engine optimization. Wanna show up #1 as an asset based lender? Top of the heap as an equipment lessor? Here’s the real question for the commercial finance business with SEO: How many dozens of junk deals are prepared to triage to find a marginal number more decent deals per month after spending huge money for all that activity?  You should be searchable, easy to find, but there are easier and cheaper ways to maximize search for credit driven businesses without flooding you with lousy credits.

Be aware that social media can be a really good paid advertising channel. LinkedIn can get your customized message directly to a decision-making audience in a highly targeted space. It ain’t cheap, but it is measurable, targeted and you can start small and grow. Twitter and Facebook are the same deal and can be valuable, but usually not as valuable as LinkedIn.  Amazing how many happy clients we create by redirecting funds from print ads they didn’t think were working into targeted LinkedIn ads that have an immediate impact on pipeline.

Be insistent on a plan that has an ROI. Build a real strategy that diversifies your ad investment across print, digital and social. If you are spending money hoping it works, stop. You should have a definitive plan to measure, evaluate and act on every component of an advertising strategy.

We think advertising works well in the commercial finance business, but you have to know what you are doing. If you don’t…there is no faster way to torch marketing money. If you ever wanna chat about an advertising approach that makes sense for your business, give us a holler.

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