Placing ads in publications or other media that might have little or no relevance to the market(s) they serve will waste your marketing funds. A targeted approach is much preferred and will generally provide a far greater return for the money spent.
The first thing we suggest is to develop a succinct and detailed promotional plan that will include the medium, the cost, when the ads or other promotional effort will take place, the market segment(s) targeted, the objective of the effort and the desired results. Bear in mind that unless the effort can be measured in some meaningful way, it becomes less attractive as a way of promoting your business.
Once your plan is developed, implement it carefully and try hard not to deviate from it by agreeing to advertise with those who solicit your ads and promotional dollars. The vendors that call wanting to sell advertising don’t understand your business and are only interested in selling something. Unless the offer fits extremely well with your overall promotional efforts, don’t fall for these offers.
Your promotional mix should include media that effectively target those you want to reach. Consider public relations (much of it is free), give away items, advertising including local and community newspapers, the Internet, magazines, radio, direct mail, social media and search engine marketing in your overall plan. Evaluate the various mediums available to you very carefully. Expect each vendor of these services to provide you with data in terms of who and how many the medium will reach. Remember that some vendors will promise great returns for your money but can’t support their claims with relevant data.
Establish a budget based on your desired promotional objectives and the intensity of your promotional efforts. Be certain to base your spending levels on targeted efforts that can be measured in some manner. Weigh the alternative media against one another and favor those with the greatest anticipated or historical returns. The adage that cheaper is not always better certainly applies to the promotional arena.
And keep in mind that a particular medium might be read or viewed by a large number of people, but is not directed enough toward your intended audience. Focus your promotional efforts as much as possible on your targeted market segments. Rank the alternative media in terms of their ability to reach those market segments and the cost to reach them.
Finally, if you don’t have experience or aptitude in promoting products and services, we strongly recommend hiring a reputable advertising agency to assist in developing your promotional plan including evaluating media against cost and projected returns. Good ad agencies can actually save you money by helping to avoid wasting promotional dollars and by enhancing your return on the dollars you do spend. We know that some businesses shy away from hiring an ad agency because of cost, but we believe this is a mistake in most cases. We can connect you with local firms who can help you get the job done.