Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finding the advertising medium that works for you.

I was asked to be part of a focus group conducted by a local newspaper last week. Like most newspapers, this local newspaper is looking for new footholds in the crumbling landscape of print publications. So, they invited a group of regular advertisers to share our opinions on advertising in general and newspaper advertising specifically.

After we all introduced ourselves, the moderator lobbed her first question.

“What advertising medium works most effectively for your business?”

As the only advertising agency in the room, I decided to keep my mouth shut. In my business, we use all different mediums. In general, I don’t have a preference for one over another. My fellow panelists certainly did, though.

Of the nine other advertisers in the room, no two had the same answer. The top media choices ranged from television advertising to search engine marketing to direct mail with newspaper, radio and outdoor advertising thrown in for good measure. The Yellow Pages even had a fan. Go figure.

Which just goes to show, there’s some medium for everyone. Unfortunately, you may go broke before you find it. So, allow us to lend a few key points we’ve learned about some mediums along the way.

Cable Television: Cable is an affordable way to get your business on television, but it is most effective in small areas or targeted by content. A local restaurant can buy one cable zone and effectively reach its target market of a few miles surrounding its location. A golf retailer can effectively target golfers by advertising in golf tournaments on cable.

Outdoor Advertising: Billboards, bus shelters and bus benches provide great navigators to your business. Turn here, left at the light or 1.5 miles ahead can make new customers from regular passersby. Outdoor ads are also effective for promoting short, repetitive messages. How many times have you seen a 1-800-INJURY or www.carcrash.com message while driving around town?

Direct Mail: Yes, a lot of direct mail winds up in their garbage, but not if your message is something they need and there’s something in it for them. We recently sent register boaters an innovative mailer offering a discount on polarized sunglasses at a local store. It worked swimmingly.

Search Engine Marketing: Paid online marketing options like pay-per-click offer fabulous tracking so you can see who’s clicking and who’s calling. They first have to be looking for what you are selling, though. SEM is great for getting driving people searching for chocolate chip cookies to your website, but sugar cookie buyers may never know you exist.

Obviously we can’t cover every advertising medium in just one blog, so stay tuned for future media reviews posted here.