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Choosing a Method of Advertisement for a Business

Updated on November 15, 2014
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Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising and public relations.

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Advertising is one of the most difficult investments a company, particularly a small business, has to make. Choosing a method of advertisement for a business often feels like gambling. Don't do it at all, you get nothing. Roll your dice by investing in one type of ad placement, you get nothing. Roll your dice by investing in the same placement next year, you hit the jackpot.

There's got to be a better way of selecting advertising methods that have the highest potential to work, right?

Here is a radically different approach on how to determine the right ad method to use. Traditionally, people start by looking at all the media venues (such as magazines, direct mail, television, etc.) that they have available. But that is really the endgame of advertising. You need to start with where...

The Where Question

Where are your customers when they are in the market for what you sell? This is not about their ZIP code or city. Where are they physically when they would make a decision to either buy the product? At home? In the office? In the car? Surfing the Internet? Take some time to seriously think about that question because it is quite profound and often overlooked.

For those who might not be familiar with it, P.O.P. (point of purchase) marketing is entirely based on the where question. People waiting in line at a store usually have these things on their minds:

  • "I'm hungry."
  • "I'm bored."
  • "Oh, I forgot..."

So that's why you will see items such as sugary or salty snacks, gum, magazines and batteries marketed near retail checkout lines where they are likely to make a buying decision for these items.

Let's say that you own a fast food restaurant. Typically where are people when they decide to run over to a quick service restaurant? They might be a couple of places. They might be in their cars. So billboard type advertising on roadways near your establishment may be good. Signs and billboards near heavily trafficked (driving or pedestrian) routes near office complexes could also be good placements.

Another example would be heating and cooling contractors who put weatherproof stickers on thermostats, as well as the equipment when installing. Why? Because when people are feeling too cold or hot, what do they do? They run to the thermostat. Next, they might wander over to the unit to see if it's working. (By the way, contractors used to ask homeowners to put their stickers on the Yellow Pages. Why? Because that's where people used to turn to find help. Today, it's the Internet.)

Those are examples for consumer level services. What about B2B (business to business)? Same rule applies. Say you offer computer repair service and parts. What's the most likely thing folks in B2B might do if they don't have an established "tech guy" on call for computer maintenance? Google it! So your best "where" might be Google AdWords or advertising on other search engines.

The major point is that you want to invest a good portion of your marketing dollars in advertising methods that connect with your key customer prospects where they are most likely to be when making a decision to buy what you sell.

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Available Advertising Options

After you have figured out some likely "where" scenarios for your customers, it's time to select your advertising methods. While the major methods are discussed here, be on the lookout for new options in the online and mobile space.

  • Television. More interactive features and multi-device Internet viewing are being added which bodes well for advertisers. Direct response advertising (such as infomercials) can be effective for consumer products in particular.
  • Radio. While it is touted as being effective for reaching target customers "everywhere" (home, car, work, etc.), traditional radio is getting competition from online (Internet) radio, with dramatic increases in listenership since 2008. This is good news since listening via the Internet offers more opportunities for clickable online advertising.
  • Internet and Email Marketing. Offers a wealth of advertising placement opportunities, both on desktop and mobile devices. However, Internet advertising must be carefully chosen so that it reaches the right target audiences when they are in a buying mood. In fact, the Internet's downside is that there might be too many options to choose from, making ad decision making overwhelming. Pay per click (PPC), cost per thousand (CPM), sponsorship and social media advertising models are available. Because of its ability to reach people on both desktop and mobile devices with direct response offers, email marketing can be one of the most cost effective and relevant mediums available to today's marketers.
  • Magazines and Newspapers. The Internet continues to topple print media, even though the topical or regional nature of the media still makes them attractive options. Many publications have added online components or have even discontinued print versions altogether. Carefully consider whether prospects would actually be in a buying mood when viewing. May be a better choice for "awareness" advertising and content marketing efforts.
  • Direct Mail. Like print media, direct mail is being challenged as an advertising medium. However, it can offer finely targeted marketing campaigns (by geography, demographics and timing) that can convert to leads and sales.
  • Billboards and Signs. Still an attractive medium for local advertising since, unlike other methods, billboards can't be "turned off" by the user.
  • Promotional Products. Imprinted merchandise has one of the lowest cost per impression investments when compared other methods. As well, if chosen properly to be used where a customer would be in a buying mood (example: on a desk at work to encourage business purchases), promotional products can be effective advertising tools.
  • "Yellow Pages" Type Directories. These publications are still viable in some communities. But be very aware that the new "Yellow Pages" is the Internet.

Disclaimer: The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne

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    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      I found this information interesting and useful. It confirms for me the "where" in where to send business brochures for potential customers to see: doctor's offices/waiting rooms. Thanks, heidithorne. Good hub.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, Janis, for reading and commenting! Totally agree with the potential for healthcare waiting areas for referral business.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

      Having been in advertising (in a past life), as well as a small business owner, I know the importance of getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Your Hubs are a wealth of information for anyone looking for that edge in today's competitive marketplace! :)

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thank you, lindacee, for checking out my hubs and for your kind comments! Always glad to connect with others who have been in the advertising and small biz game. Cheers!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This Hub is packed full of information and helpful strategies. My father-in-law owned a small business for many years. But he never sold online. He did very well placing coupons in newspapers. Times certainly have changed thought and we are always evolving. Great advice!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks CraftytotheCore! Indeed, much has changed in the advertisement world over the years. Interestingly, some of the "old school" techniques, such as direct mail, can help cut through the online advertising clutter. Thanks for adding your story to the conversation! Have a great day!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Just saw the power of location in action! Our garage door opener went on the fritz after several years. When we had a repair done years ago, the repair company had placed a removable decal with their information right by the garage opening button. Guess who I called? Yep, that same group (they're working on it already). That was very efficient advertising!

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Lots of tradies here like to put their sticker on whatever they are servicing (eg a washing machine etc). Then, years later, they are getting lots of repeat calls from customers too lazy to compare pricing. I think this is a great marketing strategy. Put your contact details on whatever it is (as a webmaster, I add them to website bums) and then reap the rewards when you've done heaps of them. Voted useful!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Indeed, Suzanne Day, I gotta admit I'm one of those lazy homeowners. :) It's just too much work to research new trade folks. In fact I just had another interesting related situation. We wanted to get our air ducts cleaned. Had it done a couple years back and I was satisfied with the work (they did our entire HVAC system install, too). But we found a coupon for a super low cleaning price and made an appointment. About an hour before the time, they called and said their tech had been injured on the previous job and couldn't make it. Red flags! Was the tech trained right? Did he have improper equipment? Were they properly insured? Ack! So I called the same folks from a couple years back (with their info on our system).

      Thanks for adding your experiences to the conversation! Have a beautiful weekend!

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