Choosing and Advertising Medium to Maximize Results
Value for Your Dollar is Key
There is a series of questions you must give thoughtful responses to prior to any effective advertising campaign to get the best value for your advertising dollar. If you just throw money out there, your odds of being effective are close to nil. No pre or post evaluation of the effect of the advertising program you take compounds the problem spending. So what is the process?
Start with an Outcome In Mind
How obvious a statement is that? Of course you want your outcome to be to sell more of widget c over the next 3 weeks, right? Did you communicate that with the people putting together your ad?
When spending money in business, every dime needs to be a qualified expense. Advertising, when done properly, works. Advertising, when done improperly, can be devastating. So start at the beginning and decide just exactly what is it that you plan to pay all this money for. You intend to give up some part of your budget to...
Here you have to decide what it is you are really trying to do. Established companies often are just trying to improve their image, maybe their "green" initiative or some other community associated concept. Power companies may be wanting to lobby the market they are in to soften them up for a rate increase by showing how they are such good stewards of the air, water and resources. Chemical companies may want to do an expansion and need to point out how many employees work at that stinking place that had 3 spills into the local river or lake last year. The government, from local to Federal, may run ads to point out services that are being under-utilized or recently made available that folks need to know about. None of these particular ads would be the traditional ad intending to sell something, but can still be very effective advertising.
Large, multinational brands spend millions on advertising. Mr. Wrigley is probably the most famous advertiser. Even though he owned over 90% of the chewing gum market he spent nearly 20% of his gross profit on advertising saying "he still didn't have 100% and didn't want someone else to have 11%." A large multinational brand evaluates every dollar spent on advertising to determine the effectiveness of that dollar. Yes they spend many, many millions of dollars, and can generally identify very specifically the effects of how that next advertising dollar would affect sales.
So the idea of determining whether your intent is to advertise to improve your company's image, to gain community support for an initiative or to improve sales is the first step in the process. Of course there are other reasons to advertise, so figure out what it is you intend to accomplish prior to spending the next dollar and then think about who you want to reach.
Choosing Your Target Carefully
Mass market advertising is the most expensive marketing there is. Reaching everyone who needs to buy a new car, candy bar or a new pharmaceutical means heavy spending in multiple markets in a consistent, long term way to reach and implant your message. In the early days of radio and television, print to some extent, used very effective jingles implanting the message in every man woman and child from that era. Today I can recite jingles from several companies, from the Texaco Star to M&M candies where their slogan hasn't been used for over 30 years. Effective yes, expensive, very!
With the advent of the internet, cable TV and cirrus satellite radio advertising making, the decision of where to spend a dollar isn't any easier, or is it?
In the old days you had to use your local newspapers, local radio station, and if you went all out you went to a local major market and did a TV commercial. Building the commercial for print required special programs only print ad agencies had or maybe the local paper might. Magazines were almost prohibitive in their cost.
Today most companies can develop their own ads with creative staff and some off the shelf software that makes a fairly professional presentation. I believe you can still benefit in most cases by using a professional advertising agency when the dollars are available. It is their job to not only develop the ad for the specific market but also find the ad placements that make the most use of your limited advertising dollars. When they are using 15-30% of your budget for their share, you better get great results.
Once you have identified your desired end result, confirm your target market. If you are not looking at a broad demographic, by age, sex, race, or nationality, or today even sexual orientation, consider where the best place to find this demographic is. Yes, you can drill down to black, female, bisexual, Australian 30-40 year olds with 2 children and a dog. But what are you going to sell to those 10 people? Maybe you need to reach technically oriented geeks in the 20-40 year old range - whole lot better size group, and better market dynamic.
Now you can determine how you are going to reach them best. 20-40 year old geeks may best be reached by inserting pop up ads on You Tube videos for all I know, but you need to do that research - and it is available. Spending money on demographic research is a good use of some advertising dollars. If you spend 30% less on reaching the right target market because of good research, and the research cost was less than that 30%, probably 10%, then it was a good move.
Whatever medium you use, print (trade publications with ads or advertorials, billboards, magazines, newspapers, fliers, business cards, park benches, urinal readers, bathroom stalls, restaurant menus for example) or television (commercials, infomercials, or sponsoring programs) radio with ads, online stories, or coop the ad with a short sponsored story. Then, of course, there is the internet with all sorts of advertising opportunities like pop up ads, banner ads, click through ads blogs, blog sponsorships, twitter, facebook and so on and so forth.
Be sure to quantify all sales prior to any attempt at an advertising program. Run the program and as it is going forward, check sales every single day. Over the course of weeks, see what happens and watch sales. If you can identify when the new sales start and drop off, it will be of great value on the next advertising planning. Good luck!