If you don’t have the luxury of being able to afford a marketing professional or advertising agency, you might need to prepare an advertising campaign yourself. Before you embark on any advertising campaign, it pays to understand what advertising is or isn’t.
What is advertising?
Advertising is the use of paid announcements in the media to promote your company brand, image, products, services or a special event like a limited offer or sale. It’s a non-personal form of promotion requiring the advertiser to pay through a selected media outlet. Considered a one-way form of marketing, it’s often viewed as a method of reaching many people.
Advertising takes the place of one-on-one selling to entice the consumer to call you, visit your store, go to your website, buy your products or engage your services. Advertising works by helping to build your brand (your company name and image along with the products and services you sell)
Advertising builds and maintains market share.
Advertising works to help consumers become aware they have a choice of brand (products or company), and to be able to make that choice according to their individual needs, likes and dislikes. It’s most effective when it reaches the right target audience for the products and services being offered.
An advertising strategy should be designed to influence consumer behavior to purchase your products or services.
The advertising strategy is more important than the creative aspect, as the wrong strategy can mean targeting the wrong market segment therefore failing to achieve your marketing goals.
Advertising is a sub-set of marketing and not to be confused with an overarching marketing strategy. The downside of course, unless the advertising is targeted correctly, it can be a waste of promotional dollars.
Most advertising is directed towards the promotion of goods and services or an idea. The goal of advertising is the promotion of goods, services or an idea to a targeted audience through persuasive advertising or informative advertising.
Contrary to what most people think, an advertisement does not directly sell your products and services. Why? Because people don’t buy from an advertisement.
The consumer needs a reason to take notice of an advertisement. It must grab their attention, generate interest, activate a desire for them to make further inquiries regarding your product or service offering. For example, the advertisement itself needs to inspire the consumer to either visit your website, shop on-line, physically visit your place of business, call or email you regarding the products or services they are interested in. Only then does the consumer make the decision to buy from you or not.
Simplistically, when a consumer sees an advertisement, they are not in an immediate position to respond to the message hence why your advertisement needs to have a call to action.
Before you embark on an advertising campaign, it’s important to understand what you want your potential customer to do. In other words, what is your advertising objective? Once you have established what you want the customer to do, you can then choose the right advertising medium that will meet your advertising objective.
Advertising involves either purchasing space in some form of print or on-line media or purchasing time in some form of communication media that either promotes your business or the products and services you sell.
The medium you choose to advertise will vary depending on both your target market and what you want to promote at any one time. Where you choose to advertise will depend on the most effective medium for the advertising dollars you have budgeted to spend.
The most common medium for advertising includes:
- Newspapers and magazines
- Movie theaters
- Social media
- Direct mail, emails and facsimiles
- Outdoor signage and billboards
- Your own vehicles
- Other forms of transport such as trains, trams and buses
Choosing the right medium
Deciding where and when to advertise depends on your target market.
One of the most effective ways to identify your target market is to create ideal customer avatars commonly referred to as buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of who your ideal customers are. Buyer personas are based on market research along with real data you’ve collected about your current customers. Buyer personas also identify what type of advertising medium your ideal customers are likely to respond to.
Your budget can be a huge factor when choosing an advertising medium to work with for some advertising mediums are much more expensive than others. Very few businesses can afford to use television as an advertising medium because it is so expensive – not just the air time but also the production costs.
The lead-time you have before placing the advertisement is also a consideration. Some advertising mediums need to be booked or prepared a long way in advance whereas others can be used at short notice.
Frequency is also a factor to take into consideration. Taking a single advertisement in a daily paper may not get you the impact you need for your advertising dollar. Newspaper advertisements only appear for one day before the average person discards the paper. On the other hand, advertising in a magazine might be more advantageous as magazines are often kept in reception areas for customers to read for many months at a time.
The message you want to portray also determines the advertising medium you choose. If you are looking to promote your business generically, billboards, vehicle signage and directories might be your choice. You wouldn’t use a directory to advertise a short-term promotion since an advertisement in a directory usually lasts for a year – whereas your promotion may be a limited time offer.
Newspapers are a good medium for branding, promotion or describing your products and services. Your message however needs to be effective because you only gain the attention of the reader for a very short time. If your advertisement is not read on the day it appears, chances are it won’t be read at all.
While free newspapers may seem like a good place to advertise, the readership is not committed and likely to discard the paper. People who pay to have a newspaper delivered are more likely to read it cover to cover.
For a newspaper advertisement to be effective it must be strong on graphics and visuals to get the attention of the reader. This is because most people scan the newspaper and don’t read every word or every page. Additionally, the print quality is usually not the greatest with a limited opportunity to use color for effect.
Choosing to advertise in a newspaper because it has the cheapest rates may not be the best choice if their circulation is limited. You need to analyse the cost of the advertisement versus the distribution. Local newspapers can penetrate the local community in which you operate as all readers are your potential customers.
Radio is a medium that can reach people in a variety or places at a variety of times. It could be in their car, in the workplace, at home, on holiday…. the possibilities are endless. Radio stations also appeal to different segments of the market. One may play rock or pop music, others country music and still others talk-back. Each one will appeal to a different segment of the market. Make sure when you are using radio for advertising, that you target the right times and frequencies that best match your target market.
Radio stations will have statistics on their listeners. Understanding their listener demographics will help you to choose a radio station that matches the segment of the market you want to target. Radio can also be a very effective method of promoting a particular day or event such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Black Friday.
Radio is also good for limited time offers that prompts potential customers to take immediate action to call you and place an order on that day or that week.
The downside of radio is that you are always limited to the target audience of the station you choose to advertise with. It also can become an expensive medium to use if you need to reach many people over a period of time. The most expensive time of day to advertise is drive time, when people are driving to and from work and unfortunately – this is also the most effective time of reaching an audience.
A radio advertisement must be broadcast more than once as the method of communication is auditory. People remember what they see more than they remember what they hear therefore repetition is important for radio advertising to be effective. This repetition adds to your costs.
Television is an excellent medium in which to advertise products and services because it is highly visible by combining the use of colour, graphics, movement and audio. Most small businesses find the costs of using television prohibitive. You could consider using smaller or local television stations that offer cost effective advertorials (a paid interview where you promote your products or services).
One of the downsides of using television is the production costs. You must take into consideration the time it takes and the expense of hiring a professional television production company. They need a brief, time to film and edit the visual and audio in preparation for the television station.
Effective television commercials, like radio, comes down to frequency of the message and prime advertising spots for which you pay extra.
Advertising in a directory
When you are starting a new business you could miss out on being in a printed directory because the lead time is so far in advance. However, many directories offer an on-line version where you can list your business details.
If you do use a print directory, it’s hard to know how much you should spend on an advertisement. Prices vary per size, shape and position. This very much depends on your budget. However, a “smaller well-presented advertisement” can sometimes be more effective than a larger, poorer presented one.
Buy the biggest size you can afford!
If you are unsure of the type of advertisement to produce, look through the directory and mark all the advertisements (of any product) that captures your attention. Photocopy them and then ask yourself: “Why did this particular advertisement grab my attention? Was it the heading, the size, the layout, the photo, the illustration?” Keep the photocopies as ideas on how you want to present your own advertisements.
A wider and broader advertisement is more effective than one that is taller and narrow. This is because people find it easier to read left to right than up and down.
When advertising in a directory, be careful not to try to convince readers to buy your products and services. By searching through the directory, they have already decided to buy, they are now trying to decide what company to use! Your advertisement needs to project a reason for them to call you or to visit your store and not your competitors. This is where having a well thought through value proposition is important.
The disadvantage of advertising in a directory is that you are surrounded by your competition. Therefore, it’s very important that your advertisement stands out from the rest.
Unlike an on-line directory, always, always, always check a proof of your advertisement before it is published. You cannot change a mistake after the directory is printed. A year is a long time if you must live with a mistake!
Outdoor advertising includes a variety of outdoor signage that includes:
- Moving vehicles
Outdoor signage by its very nature is usually seen while people are on the move, therefore the message needs to be clear and concise. Outdoor signage can be very cost effective in relation to other forms of advertising. For instance, a sign-written vehicle or business sign can be very cost effective because of the longevity of the signage after the initial costs are paid.
Advertising in magazines
Magazines can be an excellent medium for advertising niche products and services. For instance if you specialize in a niche market, advertising in an industry magazine could reap long-term rewards as people tend to keep niche magazines for a long time.
For example, if you sell boating camping and fishing products, advertising in a related camping boating and fishing magazine could be beneficial. People who have a keen interest in camping boating and fishing have a tendency to keep these magazines.
Magazines can convey your message in color which makes it a suitable medium for advertising. The downside can be the cost factor along with placement and lead times. You usually need to book a long time in advance and don’t always have control over the position of the advertisement in the magazine concerned.
Direct mail targets the customer directly by way of a mail out. It includes mailing out brochures, fliers, letters, price lists and is used by many businesses to penetrate a mass market. It is a very flexible medium to use because you can target any sector of the market at any time covering a generic promotion or a specific promotion. When planned, executed and refined to target your specific market, it can be a very effective way of gaining visibility.
The mailing list
The success of a direct mail campaign will depend on how well you prepare your mailing list. If your mailing list is not targeted to the right market, no matter how good the promotional package you are offering, your promotion will have no impact. You can either use a list from your current customer base or create a new targeted list.
White Pages are not the only directory where you can source a mailing list. There are business directories, trade and industrial directories as well as organizations such as The Chamber of Commerce who produce their own directory.
Direct mail is a great method of targeting lots of people all at once. You can’t possibly door knock or set up personal appointments for every potential customer. The purpose of direct mail is to reach more of your target market than with other marketing options. Keep in mind, even with a high response rate from a direct mail campaign, be prepared to send out a series of mailings. Frequency and consistency is the key.
The disadvantage of a direct mail campaign is that it can be expensive in terms of the cost per unit if you include envelopes, postage and the printed matter into the equation. Therefore, you must be sure that the people you are mailing are your target customers and that your material is not perceived as junk mail instead of direct mail.
Social network advertising, also known as social media targeting, is a group of terms that are used to describe forms of online advertising that focus on social networking services such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter for example. These online advertisements blend into users’ newsfeeds which is proving to be more effective than interruptive banner formats on-line.
Advertising on social media platforms can be very complex, especially Facebook due to their algorithms. Facebook also frequently changes the rules so if you do use Facebook for advertising, you need to abreast of these frequent changes.
Social media is particularly good for creating subscriber lists especially if you use a lead magnet like a free download. They are also excellent as you can set daily spending limits and monitor the views, downloads and responses through o-line analytics. If you find a campaign is not working – it’s easy to change things up.
Other forms of advertising
There are other forms of advertising you can also consider using:
- Signage on the back, side or interior of a bus or taxi.
- Fliers that are dropped in letterboxes.
- Fliers placed under the windscreen of cars in a parking lot.
- Advertising in movie theaters as part of their regular advertising program.
- Fax or E-mail Attacks where you send out messages or fliers through this medium.
- Advertising your name on various promotional products such as business cards, calendars, pens, bags and other promotional products.
Keep in mind, advertising won’t sell inferior products and services more than once.
On a final note
Spend time researching your target market and what advertising medium your potential customers are likely to respond to. If you do, your advertising campaign will be far more effective.
In a Nutshell
- Advertising is the use of paid announcements in the media to promote your company brand, image, products and services or a special event like a limited offer or sale.
- Advertising takes the place of one-on-one selling to entice the consumer to call you, visit your store, go to your website, buy your products or use your services.
- The goal of advertising is the promotion of goods, services or an idea to a targeted audience through persuasive advertising or informative advertising.
- Advertising involves either purchasing space in some form of print media or purchasing time in some form of communication media that either promotes your business or the products and services you sell.
- Choosing the right medium depends on your budget, lead time and your target market.