Do you want to learn how to get your message heard by your audience so you don’t waste your advertising money? In this article, we will discuss ideas on how to break through the clutter to make sure your audience hears your message. One of the little ironies about advertising is you will be become tired of your ad long before your audience does.

I had a great time at HVAC Comfortech in Baltimore, MD recently. There were many fine presenters, but for me the highlight was listening to Mark Matteson speak on Friday’s opening session. As always, Mark was entertaining, insightful, thought provoking, and just plain funny. Mark spoke about having written goals, he stated, that if you know the “what” and the “why” of your goal then the “how” will take care of itself. I came away from that session with many great ideas and very good positive feelings.

Following this line of thinking, ask yourself, what are your marketing goals? What do you want to achieve? Why did you set those goals? If you have you have the “what” and the “why,” you’ll figure out the “how.”

According to the CBS News show Good Morning America, the average person sees over 5000 ads per day. That’s a ton of ads when you consider all of the sources, TV, radio, online, outdoor, newspapers, and magazines. Is there any wonder why it is so hard to reach people? It is especially difficult to get a message to its intended recipient these days with DVRs, when people can fast-forward through commercials, click past ads online and just flip the page past an ad in a magazine or newspaper.

Entertaining ads and commercials get your attention, but you don’t want your ads or commercials to be so entertaining you lose sight of the product. Have you ever seen a commercial that was so entertaining you didn’t know what they were selling? Does it make you want to watch more closely the next time to try to figure out what they’re selling? Most folks will just ignore the commercial, but some try to figure it out. If you analyze these commercials, you’ll find they work because they entertain and they engage their audience without assaulting them.

Another highlight of Comfortech for me was the Thursday morning opening session. Mike Eruzione captain of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team spoke about leadership. I had the opportunity to hear Mike, 15-years ago when I was with York International. He delivered an excellent message about teamwork. Back then, York sponsored the ’96 Atlanta Olympic Games; I had the chance to meet many US Olympic champions that year. I learned with TEAM, “Together Everybody Achieves More.”

At Comfortech, Mike said that he was a captain among captains. All of his team members were leaders in their own right. He outlined the process Herb Brooks, coach of the US Olympic Hockey Team went through to find the best players for the team. Herb started with a large group of players, kept cutting players from the team until he had the right players in place. Mike explained how Herb mixed European style of play with the North American game, and created a fast-paced style, which ultimately became the underlying foundation of the 1980 gold medal team.

In your marketing approach, take a page from Herb’s playbook and be inventive. Try combining different styles or techniques to find something that gives you an edge. Try painting your company trucks an unusual color to make them highly visible. Your vehicles are rolling billboards; carry that color and theme into your building and into your online, print, and broadcast media programs. Be consistent and stay with the same theme, year-in and year-out. Remember to focus on your plan and to work your plan. Your goal is to grow awareness and earn share of mind.

Ask your employees to donate 4 hours of their time on a weekend to answer telephones during the membership drive at your local PBS TV station; it will be a lot of fun and good for your team. Sponsor the membership drive; take over the studio, have all of your employees wear company shirts while answering the phones. Provide matching contributions to anybody that donates over $100. If you do this, during your shift, the host will be saying, “’Johnson Air’ is providing matching contributions tonight for anybody who donates over $100.” You can set a limit on how much you want to spend; you could for example decide to spend up $10,000. Ask yourself, how much would you spent on a direct mail campaign or a TV commercial?

Sponsor the local high school marching band. Sponsor their car wash fundraiser. Get creative, do something for the community. Sponsor a wish for a child at the local Make-A-Wish chapter. Volunteer with the local Habitat for Humanity organization. Provide free service for needy people in your community and then ensure your local media covers the event.

Why try these things? Try them because they are different, and the audiences that you can reach through these efforts are inclined to watch or become involved. People are more open and less guarded during these types of events. People who support a high school marching band for example are inclined to support the band sponsors.

The last couple of weeks we talked about using news releases to generate free publicity. If you launch a new marketing program, hold a community event, or sponsor a local charity, issue a news release to the business section of your local newspaper before the event takes place. Contact all of the local TV and radio stations as well. If you have a Facebook business page make sure, you post your information there also.

Without speaking to you individually and studying your market, it would be difficult if not impossible to provide a list of things that will absolutely work in your market. What works in a smaller market might not do as well in a larger market and vice versa; however, you know what worked for you in your market. What marketing device provided the biggest return? What program provided the second best response? What produced the third best ROI for you? What would happen if you combined these two or three programs? How would you carry that theme to your website, to your trucks, and to your print materials?

The main things to remember are find new ways to get the attention of your audience by entertaining, by engaging their mind, and by enticing them to want to know more about your company. Combine your most successful marketing campaigns and see if you can get higher response rates. Stand out from the rest by doing the unexpected.

Develop your message, hone it until it is razor sharp, and use it consistently until you penetrate the awareness of you audience. Think Aflac, consistent message, consistent image, they even use the same actors consistently in their commercials. Once you understand what they are doing, you start looking for certain actors to show up in the commercials almost like a cameo appearance. Obviously Aflac has a huge marketing budget, but you can take note of what they do and scale it to work within your budget. I hope this helps you cut through the clutter.

This past week I launched my new website. Please stop by www.fracicaenterprises.com and check it out. Send me an email and let me know what you think, or visit my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FracicaEnterprises.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, technical training, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies find their voice in an ever increasingly crowded market place. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the website www.fracicaenterprises.com.