How to maximize your ad spend: Let’s look at three media

Advertising your product or service is a given in today’s competitive world. If you want people to know what you sell, you have to tell them. Marketing communication is a necessity, not a luxury.

But, what medium should you use? Why is one better than another? Where would direct your ad dollars for the most impact?

For the purposes of this post, I want to cover three of the more commonly used media: television, radio and print (newspapers).

Let’s look at some critical changes that have occurred in recent years and how you can get the maximum impact for your advertising dollar from the different media.

Television is primarily an entertainment medium. Research shows the average person spends more time with television than with radio and newspaper combined. For many years, TV was considered the most powerful advertising choice because of the huge audience this medium provided. Even today, nearly everyone watches some TV every day.

Let’s look at three important considerations before spending money on TV advertising: limited lifespan of your ad, audience fragmentation, and ad avoidance.

Remember that once your ad has aired, it is gone for forever. There is no way your potential customer can refer back to it. This why you should make sure that you run your ad many times to embed your message in the mind of the viewer. Repetition (or frquency) is important with any advertising, but especially broadcast media.

Audience fragmentation is one of the major problems local television faces today.

Many years ago, a huge TV audience was split over only a few local channels. Community businesses could reach a large majority of their potential customers very quickly. Large national companies only had to choose from the three major networks in the USA–ABC, CBS or NBC–to reach over 80% of the population.

Today, with cable and satellite TV, this same audience is now fragmented over hundreds of channels (over 200 in the USA). The percentage of viewers on local TV has dropped dramatically. Yes you can run ads on cable and they will spread them out over ten or more channels. This shotgun advertising has not worked well for small businesses because many of these stations have only a half percent or less of the total viewers. And, what are the odds that they will be watching during the 15 or 30 seconds that your ad is presented?

Ad avoidance is also a growing problem for TV today, more so than before.

Television is primarly an entertainment medium. Because of this, viewers see advertising as an unwelcome interruption–not unlike how many people consider telemarketing. This was true 30 years ago but there was nothing a person could do about it except channel surf or leave the room. As you know this was, and still is, often done. Today, with TIVO, pay- per-view, public broadcast stations, and the multitude of satellite and cable channels, the public has shown a willingness to pay for reduced interruption from advertising.

Radio has similar problems. It is also primarily an entertainment medium. As such, advertising is also considered an interruption.

Satellite radio is one of the fastest growing industries today primarily because people, again, are willing to pay to avoid commercials. In fact, most new cars have satellite radio built in.

Similarly, radio has evolved into an entertainment source primarily while driving, and background noise at work or at home. If you buy any radio advertising, this should only be aired during drive time.

At home, radio use drops off. People can play CD’s or listen to satellite radio. This way they can choose exactly the music or programming they prefer without commercial interruption. The radio industry understands that folks do not want to be interrupted with advertising. Many times radio stations promote themselves by offering “more music, less commercials”.

Print media, especially newspapers have had their ups and downs. they have, however, steadily maintained their local readership base and strength for local marketing. Even when radio, then TV, came on the scene, people still were loyal in reading their local newspaper.

Unlike TV and radio, advertising in a newspaper is not viewed as an interruption. In fact, one of the reasons people buy newspapers is for the advertisement content. Surveys have shown between 15% and 23% of those buying a newspaper do so primarily for the advertising.

You see, people do want to see and read advertisements. They do want to – and need to – buy products and services. They just want to read the ads on their terms.

In the USA, televisions maximum reach is on one day of the year Superbowl Sunday–delivering nearly 40% of households. By way of contrast, newspapers consistently deliver well over 50% of community households. They do it every day, 365 days a year. Now that is some serious marketing power.

Another advantage over broadcast that only newspapers can deliver is engagement of the consumer at the moment they are making a buying decision. When a person is reading your ad, it is because they choose to. At that time you have their full and focused attention. And the working life of your newspaper ad is enormous because it is physical and static. Your potential customer can refer back to it anytime they wish, or even cut it out.

You may have heard on TV or radio that newspaper subscriptions and readership are dropping. This is true. But it is not to the degree they would like you to believe.

What they do not tell you is newspaper on line versions are growing much faster than the 7% or so losses in subscriptions. In fact, you will find newspaper websites are usually the busiest websites in any community. Be sure you take advantage of this.

So, you see that, local businesses who are aware of this have gone away from broadcast and back into the good old, reliable newspaper. Many of the major stores are getting back to basics and finding that print advertising seems to be given the best return on investment for their ad dollars.

Now, do note that I’m not suggesting that print should be your only advertising medium. You should, however, use this medium as a foundation on which you build an effective marketing communication plan.

And, of course, there’s the internet and what it offers. I’ll cover this marketing communication medium in another post.

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