It is very easy to spend money on advertising. It’s far harder to get results from advertising.
People who are not marketing or PR experts (also known as “normal people”) often confuse marketing tactics for strategies, or rush headlong into impulse purchases of advertising space without giving any thought to their target audience.
Why? Because small business owners who wear many hats don’t have time to get MBAs in marketing. They’re busy making widgets, so their marketing and promotional decisions are often driven by the salesmanship of their ad rep at the local radio station, TV station or newspaper.
Your ad rep shouldn’t be making your purchase decisions for you. She works on commission. When you ask her how much ad space to buy, her economic future dictates that she say “more than last month.”
If you have a solid marketing strategy in place, AND buying advertising is the right tactic to help implement your strategy, buy it smart.
If you’re going to buy advertising at all (something I seldom recommend, because the return on investment is often so low), find a media outlet whose demographic profile is the best match with the ideal client you’re trying to reach, or choose a form of advertising that will allow you to tightly target the impressions to your ideal demographic.
If you’re a startup firm, your first step—before buying your business cards, designing a brochure, putting up a website or buying ad space—should be to determine your niche. That will help you figure out who your ideal customers are, given your market niche.
Are your ideal customers male or female? How old are they? How much disposable income do they have? What problem does your product or service help solve?
Does your ideal customer live in a house? An apartment? An RV? What kind of car do they drive? What hobbies do they pursue? Do they have kids living at home? Do they have parents living with them?
When you can answer these basic questions about your ideal customer, it will help you come up with a list of potential publications or media outlets to research. What TV channels do they watch? What do they read? Are they on the Internet? Do they read magazines related to your product or service?
The more targeted your advertising message is, the more likely it is to be relevant, and the more likely it is to be remembered. So don’t buy a single minute of airtime or a single column inch of ad space unless you know exactly how many of your target customers are likely to see it.