When most hot tub retailers think of marketing, they bring up the big three: TV, radio, and print. Without a doubt, these are effective advertising mediums, but by no means the only. For many small retailers, traditional media buys are too expensive to reach wide audiences, which means these businesses must look elsewhere.
To target consumers who are already partially down the purchase funnel, consider advertorials. One part editorial, one part advertisement, advertorials are both effective in exposing your marketing message to specialty consumers and raising brand or product awareness. When done properly, they can be viable sales generators for small businesses.
In order to take advantage of this medium, you must first understand what makes it effective. Like all marketing strategies, there are good ones and bad; it’s important to know the signs of strong and weak advertorial opportunities before committing resources. Learn the tips and tricks to making your sponsored content better for your spa business.
As the name suggests, an advertorial is a cross between advertisement and editorial. It is in-depth branded content, often about a specific product or service, delivered in the form of a news article. Generally, it looks more “natural” than traditional print advertising and captures the tone and voice of the publication. The long format allows retailers to promote details and selling points that normally wouldn’t be featured in other mediums. Using advertorials effectively, however, requires planning and strong writing abilities.
Where to Publish Your Advertorial
The first step in producing quality sponsored content is finding a home for it. Increasingly, more publications are turning to paid editorial print and web content to satisfy their operating costs. That being said, advertising with large, national publications is going to be much more expensive. However, you do not need to purchase a full-page spread in the New York Times to get your message out to consumers.
Outlets that fit the spa product and message include local publications that focus on home improvement, family resources, and/or real estate.
In fact, small businesses should focus their marketing efforts on targeted niche publications. For hot tub retailers, that means finding publications that target your likely consumers: lifestyle magazines, special interest group publications, and trade magazines. Often these are considerably less expensive than more wider-reaching publications and do a better job at aligning your message with consumers.
Take time to do your research. In order for your advertorial to be effective and reach potential consumers, you need to find outlets that fit your product and message. Search through local publications for example that focus on home improvement, family resources, and/or real estate. Many of these newspaper and magazine-like publications offer opportunities for promotion beyond the traditional ad. Most print and online publications provide the contact information for their advertising department on their websites.
The Benefits of Paid Editorials
There are key differences between traditional ad copy and advertorial content. Conventional marketing usually needs quick, engaging copy that emphasizes branding over selling. The three major advantages of advertorial marketing are:
- In-depth, informative content
- Natural presentation
- Direct promotion
Though your content should be engaging, it can go into much more detail about the product or service its selling. Additionally, the copy can be informative, espousing the benefits, features, and options available. For instance, you can write an editorial review of new hot tub model, detailing the design features and health benefits to sell the product. Traditional print advertising doesn’t allow for this kind of in-depth presentation.
Because it does not look like conventional advertising, consumers are more inclined to engage with the content, either to gain information or satisfy curiosity.
A further advantage of advertorials is its natural presentation within a publication. Having both the look and feel of a real news article, advertorials are perceived with more authority. Because it does not look like conventional advertising, consumers are more inclined to engage with the content, either to gain information or satisfy curiosity. Readers are also more likely to associate your ad with the reputation of the publication. In other words, if the newspaper is well-regarded, so too is your advertorial content.
Finally, advertorials offer a direct promotional opportunity to reach consumers already in the purchasing funnel. Typically, these readers have thought about buying spas in the past and are looking for detailed product information to help with their decision. Conventional copy doesn’t help seal the deal with these consumers; they want to know about specific features and benefits to persuade them into purchase. Advertorials allow you to tap into this market of prospective buyers and influence their spending decisions.
Tips for a Successful Advertorial
Writing an effective advertorial can be challenging without previous copywriting experience. However, here is some helpful information you can use to begin crafting your content in way that is engaging, informative, and natural.
Understand the Voice of the Publication
The first step toward engaging copy that captures readers’ attention is to gauge and emulate the voice of the publication. Your promotional editorial should appeal to the interests of the audience and present information in a similar tone as the other articles in the magazine. This will help your content feel more natural and authoritative, establishing a rapport with readers.
Arguably the most important component of your advertorial is the headline. Like any news article, the headline is meant to spark curiosity and draw readers in. In the case of your advertorial, an effective headline should neither be simply the name of the product nor a generic sales pitch. Instead, it should convey the essence of your message presented in a way that piques the interest of your readers.
Most readers expect to gain something from the content they read.
For instance, “New Research Espouses Health Benefits of Swim Spas” is much more effective at capturing reader attention than “The Best Hot Tubs in World.” The latter lacks the specificity and authority that engages readers. Most readers expect to gain something from the content they read; the former headline suggests new information that is relevant to the audience.
Despite your ultimate objective, you want to avoid being too “salesy” in your advertorial. The trick is to be informative while drawing attention to your store, products and services. However, once you become too sales oriented, with canned pitches like “This spa has features you cannot live without,” you turn readers away. Instead, sell the benefits of your products with interesting ways consumers can enjoy them. You want to position your business as a solution to the questions you raise in your content.
Be Mindful of Journalistic Ethics
There has been criticism over the years regarding the ethics of advertorials, citing the fact that they can be misleading or misconstrued as objective journalism. These concerns are valid and should not be ignored. While advertorials are valuable and effective natural marketing tools, they must be clearly denoted as such.
According to the American Society of Magazine Editors, sponsored content that resembles news content must be explicitly delineated as advertising content. They cite various FTC regulations that prohibit misleading ad copy, including one which states that any content which “uses the format and has the general appearance of a news feature and/or article for public information which purports [to be] independent, impartial and unbiased…the Commission is of the opinion that it will be necessary to clearly and conspicuously disclose it is an advertisement.”
As advertorial content increasingly becomes digital, calculating the cost-benefit ratio is difficult. This is due in part to the changing landscape of branded content as more publications turn to the medium. As a result, you can receive wildly different rates for sponsored articles.
Small businesses with limited marketing budgets should be cautious when approaching different publications. Ultimately, widespread reach is less important than targeted audience. Do your research and you may discover that smaller, niche publications are more effective in generating customers and much less expensive.
For spa retailers, advertorials are an especially viable alternative to traditional print and web advertising. Unlike conventional marketing, it provides an opportunity to inform your public about new product lines and increase brand awareness in an industry where brand recognition lags behind. Through engaging, informative content, you can offer a platform for the benefits and value of your products. Few other advertising opportunities give you the flexibility and space to promote your business in such thorough detail.