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It pays to advertise

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  • 15/02/2002
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Style, content and the correct publication are crucial if a mortgage broker's advertising campaign is to be successful

The benefits of successful advertising can be staggering for a broker that targets the right audience. However, taking that first step into the advertising minefield can be daunting ‘ if you get it wrong you can waste advertising space and lose money.

Mortgage advisers initially need to identify their target markets. Peter Fenner, IFA marketing manager at GE Life, says: ‘Do not come up with an advert then decide who to put it to. Work out where you are going to use the advert and who you want to appeal to.’

Gina Collman, head of corporate communications at GMAC, agrees. ‘The most important thing is to ensure you are targeting the right market,’ she says. ‘Find out who they are and what publication they read.’

Find a niche

The local and national press are viable sources of advertising space, but specialist magazines targeting specific audiences can also be a good bet.

Phil Calvert, proprietor at Training Strategies, says: ‘The local paper or the local county paper is as good a place as any. However, if you are an IFA with a lot of accountants on your books, then you should also look at an accounting paper.’

When advertising in the local or national press, it is a good idea to position your advertisement near to the business pages, or in a money or finance section.

Calvert says one of the places to avoid is the small advertisements section of a paper. He also believes it is better to place your advert near the front of the publication.

‘Page three, bottom right is supposed to be the best spot and a lot of papers have hot spots which are best suited for adverts,’ he says.

Once you have chosen your preferred means of advertising, the content has to be decided on.

The advert has to be designed with the sole intention of attracting new business. Make sure there is a key point to get across to your customer.

‘Ensure the advert stands out, do not clutter it and show a few key points,’ Collman says.

Overall the advert should remain simple but effective. Calvert adds: ‘The advert needs to emphasise confidentiality and trust. It should not be too wacky, this is not what people want to see from a financial adviser.’

Key points to include in the advert include the length of time the business has been running and your website address.

‘The industry as a whole is trying to get across its professionalism so the advert must look professional. And always remember your web address. It is a way of finding out a little more information without actually having to pick up the phone,’ he says.

Collman adds: ‘If it is a general advert about your service, you need to show the benefits of talking to you, for example, your expertise and lower fees.’

However, if you are advertising a specific product, try to stick to just one, rather than a selection as this causes confusion. You should also make sure you include APR calculations if you are advertising a particular rate.

Serial benefits

Frequency of advertising is also important and running a series of adverts has been proved to be more effective than publishing a one-off placement.

Collman says a series of adverts can also cut your costs. ‘If you are running a campaign, talk to the publication as you can usually get a discount for booking several adverts,’ she says.

One means of advertising without actually spending a great deal is by providing editorial content for a newspaper or magazine. This could be in the form of a feature for the publication, a news story or even a comment on a particular topic.

Calvert says: ‘Send the press material from time to time, some of it will be picked up on and some of it will be ignored. Try to encourage the press to write a feature on your business.’

Fenner agrees: ‘There is often an opportunity for advisers to write some editorial which is a good opportunity to publicise the business at little or no cost.’

For advisers who do not want to handle their own advertising, assistance is available from advertising 0agencies. But Collman points out this may not be best for everyone.

‘In an ideal world an advertising agency can help with the layout and media buying, but this can be expensive. However, some local media buying companies do not charge as much ‘ especially if you advertise regularly,’ she says.

Adele Burton is a staff writer

EFFECTIVE ADVERTISING

• The most effective adverts are simple and include just a few key points. They should create an image of professionalism and confidentiality, so avoid anything wacky.

• If you are advertising specific products, always remember to include the APR.

• A series of advertisements is often more effective than one-off placements.

• If possible advertise in the business or personal finance pages of the publication.

• Think about building a relationship with the press, it enables you to generate publicity at little or no extra cost.

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