Your advertising media are the communication vehicles you use to convey your marketing messages. That’s why, in addition to selecting ones that reach your targeted audience, you’ll want to make sure they provide you with the best possible results for the least amount of time and money.
In this article, I’ll go over the most commonly used direct response advertising vehicles/types for small to medium-sized businesses, such as:
- Direct Mail
- Magazine and Classified Ads
- TV and Radio
- Internet Ads
- Outdoor Media – Billboards, Transit Signs
- Press Releases and PR
- Yellow Pages
Obviously, the trick is to match your message to your market using a suitable vehicle. For instance, it makes no sense to advertise your retirement community using a fast-paced, loud, radio spot on a hip-hop station… no matter what the salesperson says! So before you buy, make sure you’ve correctly identified your target prospects; created messages that motivate them and selected the appropriate advertising.
Here are some general tips for choosing your advertising medium.
1. Unless your target audience is broad, it’s best to choose 2-3 primary advertising vehicles… ones that you can afford to dominate. Never, ever rely solely on one form of communicating with the public – this is simply too risky. Rather, choose media that complement each other and ensure that your prospects hear about you in multiple forms.
2. Choose methods according to cost, targeting and response… Any campaign can be broken down into costs per thousand, and if you’re using direct response advertising (which you should) benchmark your success using costs per sale. Your expenses include cost of design (also known as creative), production (producing or printing your ad), and placement (radio, advertisement, list purchase and postage).
As a general rule, the more targeted the medium, the higher the cost. In return, however, you should expect a higher response rate, so the cost per response can be lower than cheaper methods.
Choose advertising and publicity methods that are suitable for your target audience. Companies that sell advertising can provide you with a lot of helpful information about their audience. Also, it’s a good idea to look at other types of businesses that continually use various media. Then make sure they’re targeting the same audience as you. Bottom line: avoid guesswork, by testing before committing to major purchases.
3. Make sure you know your total marketing budget less what’s already spent or “promised”. This assumes that you’ve already developed this and that it’s based on:
- Industry norms
- Needed profit margins
- Available cash
- Opportunity costs
- Company’s risk tolerance
- Average Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – the value of a customer over their time with business with a company. Simply put:
CLV = Revenues Received – Cost to Get and Keep
4. Find out what your competitors are spending on media in the same markets. For example, if you decide to run a radio ad in the Chicago market twice a day, on two stations for two weeks and a competitor is running a similar ad in the same market but running it 15 times a day, on 15 stations for 15 weeks you’d be foolish to waste your money by trying to compete… no one is going to notice your spot. This is another reason it’s so important to use reputable advertising agency to buy this type of advertising (goes for TV as well).
5. Even though your budget will significantly dictate your medium selection, you must also be aware and sensitive to your own sales cycles. For instance, if you’re the owner of an air-conditioning equipment company you understand that consumers don’t purchase a unit every year. Therefore, your communication has to be consistent and ongoing so you’re “top of mind” when they’re ready to buy. Also, you should develop another communication, particularly in the heat of summer, for folks who have a “burning” (no pun intended) desire to buy now.
Moreover, if you’re a jeweler you may want to beef up on your advertising right before Mother’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day and do little, or nothing, in August.
6. Track and measure your results… Advertising is an intricate science. Therefore, the best way to be sure that something is, or is not, working is to measure it using predetermined indicators. Gauge the effectiveness of your advertising from the beginning by keeping detailed records on what you did; when; to whom; for how much; and what happened.
Admittedly, the results of certain advertising are difficult to gauge. However, if you don’t measure and record your results you may be wasting money and missing the opportunity to make your decisions much easier the next time around. Key indicators to be assessed are cost per thousand, cost per response and percentage response.
Remember also that advertising forms a part of your business plan which is aimed at being profitable. If your advertising does not produce an incremental gross profit (more than costs directly associated with the medium) you need to know why.
7. Understand and adhere to laws… Before choosing your advertising methods, make sure that you are aware of all local, county, state, and federal laws about data protection, consumer rights, customer privacy and opt-out regulations. This is especially important if you are involved in maintaining and using mailing lists (e-mail and otherwise), personal customer data, telemarketing, direct mail, fax-marketing and e-mailing.