DBA holds session on effective advertising

Decatur Business Association (DBA) last year conducted a survey among its membership to learn how the organization could be more useful to them. Many indicated that they would like DBA to provide them with more information to help them develop and grow their businesses. One result was Business & Brews, a series of sessions at which members can hear about business-related topics over morning coffee.

The topic for the April 18 Business & Brews was advertising, which, according to DBA, “is a key part of any business plan, and creativity is the linchpin that propels that strategy toward its target.”

Approximately $352 billion is spent each year on advertising in the United States, a figure that many years exceeds the combined total for all other countries in the top 10 spenders for advertising, according to Statista, an international data gathering company based in Germany.

The DBA session was conducted by Joe Smith of Art Dude Creative in Chamblee. Smith, who described himself as “an artist first,” operates a company that offers graphic design, website design, online software, and illustration. As a designer, he said, he has over the years seen what works and what doesn’t work in advertising.

Advertising, Smith explained, is a subset of marketing, which is an essential element to any business. Such topics as market research, customer profiling, and studying the competition are also part of marketing. Advertising, however, involves creating messages for media placement, which today involves not only traditional media such as direct mail, newspapers, magazines, television, and radio, but also digital media and social media.

Smith advised the business owners to carefully consider their target audiences before deciding which media outlets to use and what style of advertising. “It’s possible to spend a lot on advertising without getting the results you’re looking for,” he said.

During the session, Smith covered what DBA called “some basic and often overlooked rules for crafting marketing messages.” To be effective, he said, advertising must be consistent, relevant, and unique.

“In all your advertising, your brand, your voice, and your image must be consistent. It also should clearly convey to potential customers what your product is and why this is something they need. It also should make your company stand out from others offering similar products or services,” Smith said.

To allow participants to try applying the rules, Smith conducted a brief workshop, splitting the attendees into two groups, each challenged to create an advertisement for a company offering the product or service of their choosing. The groups were instructed to create either a billboard or a social media post with a visual or action—“you can draw it or act it out”—and possibly a verbal expansion, a few words to amplify the message.

“You get to be Don Draper,” he said, referencing the fictional advertising executive in the popular television series Mad Men, set in a 1960s advertising firm.

Smith offered such hints as “keep your headline short—one to six words at most. Keep the ad visually simple; don’t have too many images. Humor stands out, but only when it’s used effectively. Don’t force yourself to be funny.”

Each group—one promoting an executive coaching company and the other a fitness company—presented their ideas and discussed them with Smith as well as with other participants.

By holding the usually one-hour Business & Brews sessions at a local business, DBA addresses another of its goals: to acquaint members with other Decatur businesses.

he April 18 session was at Guild + Journeyman on Clairemont Avenue, which sells coffee, but also provides a space for community members engaged in a wide variety of arts. According to its website, people come to Guild + Journeyman to “meet each other, engage strangers, explore new ideas, and gather momentum for community activism.”

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