Advertising and Market Research
Everybody knows that it’s all very well having a great little au pair agency, but unless people know you're there, you might as well not exist!
Plan a StrategyBefore you place any advertisements, it’s important to decide where you want to go with your agency. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you want your agency to keep small and specialised, offering a high-quality bespoke service to clients in your immediate area?
- Do you want to offer a country-wide service, which is able to meet a wider clientele?
- Does your agency have an Internet presence – in which case, will you be considering Internet advertising?
These questions are very important as they will help to determine your advertising budget and strategy. However, the basic rule of thumb is that the ‘bigger’ your agency, the more you will need to allocate for advertising and market research.
Market ResearchBefore setting a budget, you must do good background research so that you place the advertisements where your clientele will read them!
If you are offering a local service, you need to research (if you don’t know already), who your target families are likely to be and then determine what papers they read, where they spend their time in the local area, where they have been sourcing their au pairs from up until now etc. This will help you work out where to place your adverts.
If you are offering a nationwide service, you will need to find out in which pockets of the country families are more likely to have au pairs and target those areas. Will you place ads in national publications and if so, which ones? Do your homework and prioritise the publications that you see to be more lucrative in terms of response. Less is more and you need to make each promotion work.
If you are using the Internet to advertise, or are operating an internet component to your agency, your market research will be a little trickier. You will need to find out the main key words and search terms that people use to look for agencies online and evaluate who your main competitors in the marketplace are.
If you want a high presence on Google, you might wish to invest in the services of a Website Optimisation company or invest in a pay-per-click advertising campaign. The competition in this marketplace is tough and probably only for the high risk-takers and serious investors.
BudgetingOnce you have decided on your goals for the agency and done your market research, it is time to set the budget.
The key to working out an advertising budget is to stick to your initial strategy and stick to your budget! You will find that an awful lot of people will try to sell you advertising space or offer to conduct a marketing campaign on your behalf, but be tough and don’t say yes to anything unless you are very sure it will work for you. Advertising budgets get eaten up with horrifying rapidity and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Also, remember, that it is not always necessary to spend vast amounts of money. The Yellow Pages offer a free one-line ad for your area each year and the ‘phone books are distributed to every household. If you are local, it may be all you need!
Other inexpensive avenues are local parish newsletters, free advertising papers which are distributed to the neighbourhood and school magazines. You can also do as much leafleting as you want yourself!
Keep Track of Your AdsIf you are running an advertising campaign, remember to keep track of it; its no good paying for it and then forgetting about its existence!
First of all, make sure you check the copy before and after your ad’ goes to print. If your telephone number has been incorrectly printed, you will not only miss out on all the potential business, but someone else will also be very annoyed to get your calls!
Also, if an ad is not working, then you need to know if you have wasted your money. There are various ways of getting feedback as to the performance of certain ads. Perhaps you could number them and ask any clients where they heard of you. Or perhaps you could offer a discount if families quote the ad they’ve seen when they approach you. This way, you will build up invaluable knowledge about where to run repeat ads and when to leave well alone.
Above all, remember - the best advertising that you can ever do is to offer a fantastic service for a fair price. Word of mouth spreads more quickly than any advert and you’ll save yourself a lot of money!