Monthly Archives: December 2014

Anatomy of Bus Bench Ads

First Generation Bus Bench Ad; Soon To Be Retired...

First Generation Bus Bench Ad; Soon To Be Retired…

When you’re in business, effectively engaging your prospects and potential customers is half the battle of generating revenue.  However, when you communicate via different advertising media (e.g. TV, radio, internet, outdoor, etc), you have to make sure that the design has been properly tailored.  If the ad design doesn’t match the media, you risk the possibility of losing a lot of money.  Case in point; our bus bench ads.

In 2014 we began using bus bench ads to extend our marketing reach around our retail office.  While the bench didn’t “break even” from the standpoint of how much we spent on it versus the revenue generated, it did bring us some customers.  With that said, we went back to the drawing board when it came time to redesign it for our contract renewal.  Why?  Well, we felt that the original version may have been a little too “busy” and cluttered.  Thus, we tried to streamline it so that it delivered our message in line with the media (i.e. quick view, limited space and only a few seconds to capture your “on-the-go” audience).

Revised, Revamped and Ready To Reap Revenue!

Revised, Revamped and Ready To Reap Revenue!

Designing for outdoor media is a challenging communication task.  It requires that one transmit their concept with both clarity and focus.   With that being said, here are the top ten points to keep in mind when developing effective outdoor advertising:

The Five W’s.  You want to convey the what, where, why, when and who in the most expedient manner possible.  Some of you may say that the w’s aren’t in the order that you remember them in from school.  Well, when it comes to advertising, the prospect wants to know what’s in it for me before they even care who is offering it.  Thus, tell them what you’re offering, where they can get it, why they need it, when they can buy it and who you are in that order.  They can always find out who you are, but that isn’t going to initially spark them to continue reading your ad.

Keep your message short. Refine your message to its most basic elements; you may only have 30 seconds of their time if you are lucky.  You’re NOT trying to sell them on the spot so don’t waste your time or money attempting to do so.  Remember, you just want the person to desire to learn more about the goods and services of the company so they will follow your call to action.

Use a “call to action.”  The main reason businesses fail to make the sale is because they never ask for it!  If you want the person to do something, explicitly tell them what steps they should take.  Things such as call now, visit this website or visit us at 123 Anywhere Street are what we’re referring to.  If your space is limited, at a bare minimum the ad copy should be designed so readers have the essential information and are stimulated to respond.

Use bold, vibrant colors.   Colors that complement and contrast each other work best. Using more than two or three different colors isn’t advisable.  Designs have better readability with opposite colors used next to each other for higher contrast. With colors that are too similar, design elements can blend together at a distance and get lost.

Eliminate unnecessary information.  You’re probably not advertising services from Chicago to prospects in Florida.  Thus, eliminate items such as area codes and city names if they aren’t absolutely needed.

KISS.  Keep it simple sweetheart!  Limit the complexity and number of concepts communicated.  The more that prospect has to digest, the harder it will be for them to remember just what it is you do.

Use photos and graphics.  There is a reason that Jared’s picture is on the benches.  Pictures help to create intrigue, convey mental images as well as help an ad stand out.  For example, if you see the bench with Jared’s face on it, you might just look at it simply to satisfy your curiosity as to who that guy is?  Ads with images are viewed far greater than those with only text, so make sure to use those pictures!

Use large, clear fonts. You want to ensure that you copy is readable; especially for the most important concepts of the ad.  In our first generation benches the company name was the most prominent.  In the second generation we changed this so that our services were primary.  Why?  See the five w’s above.

Use intrigue. Make your prospects want to learn and know more about you and what you have to offer.  Thus, be intriguing in both words and imagery.

Keep the layout simple.  Remember, you’re trying to say a lot in a little amount of time.  Make sure that the layout is clean with a clear-cut message and focus.  Remember less is always better.

Marijuana, The IRS and Taxes

MedicalMarijuana

It’s almost impossible not to notice the wave of marijuana legalization spreading across the country.  Even Congress is getting into the act.   Research hemp crops were recently included in the 2014 Farm Bill.  Furthermore, Congress defunded DEA raids on state-legal marijuana facilities in the 2015 stop-gap funding bill.

Regardless of one’s personal feelings on this topic, it’s obvious that voters, legislators, and Congress are, for the most part, on board for the ride.  In some states, this is driven by the expected tax revenue.  The IRS, however, still has a few things to say when it comes to marijuana.

First of all, for those folks out there that are already medical marijuana patients or have considered getting their “card,” you should know that the costs of obtaining medical marijuana are NOT deductible as a medical expense on Schedule A of your personal income tax return.  The reason for this is that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the United States Controlled Substances Act.

If you have deducted your medical marijuana expenses in the past, and you ever get audited, do note that this deduction will be disallowed, and you’ll be subject to paying taxes, penalties, and interest as a result.  In order to claim a deduction for this in the future, Congress will need to reclassify cannabis as, at the least, a Schedule II drug.  If this is an important personal issue to you, your best course of action right now is to lobby your representative and senator, rather than testing this in tax court (it’s already been tested, and the IRS won).

On the business side of things, it gets even more complicated.  Under Internal Revenue Code Section 280E, dealers of Schedule I controlled substances are not permitted to deduct the ordinary business expenses involved in selling their products.  This means that recreational and medical marijuana dispensary owners cannot deduct the most common business expenses incurred in running a business, such as rent, utilities, wages, marketing, security, etc.  To get an idea of how the tax court is thinking about this subject, feel free to take a look at the Olive v. Commissioner case and the ruling of Judge Diane L. Kroupa.

Marijuana businesses are still allowed to take a Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) deduction from gross revenue.  COGS includes the hard cost of acquiring marijuana for resale, for example.

Businesses that provide other services beyond just selling marijuana are allowed to deduct reasonable business expenses for those other services and products.  For example, many medical marijuana stores also offer various naturopathic services, yoga classes, massage, etc.  Expenses related to those services are deductible (reference: 128 TC 173 (2007)).

Whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or contemplating opening a marijuana related business, it’s important to seek proper legal, tax, and accounting counsel to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.