Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Understanding Advertising Media

05.24.2010 · Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Media, Traditional Tactics

small business outdoor advertising

As a small business owner, you have only pennies to spare for placing advertisements, so you’ve got to make them count.  It’s imperative to understand what your options are and the pros and cons of each marketing medium so that you can get the most bang for your buck.

Television – Okay it’s not likely you can afford this one, and unless you live in a really cheap market, it probably wouldn’t be worth it for your business to advertise through a TV commercial.  But we’ll take a look at what TV can do, just in case:

  • TV quickly builds reach.  You have exposure to a much greater audience through television.
  • Using cable TV, or planning your commercials to air during specific shows allows you to target by interest or demographic.
  • TV gives you motion, sound and picture all at once which, if done properly, can have a more lasting effect than a static ad.

Radio – Radio is a more viable option than TV cost-wise, and there’s a good chance you’ll reach more people that have a higher propensity toward making a purchase this way.  Radio can help your business in a distinctly different–and important–way:

  • Radio builds frequency because you’ll air a spot numerous times over the course of an hour, a day, a week, etc.  This helps create awareness of your brand and keep your small business fresh in listener’s heads.
  • Radio stations often offer ‘added value,’ by giving you the opportunity to come in studio and speak on the air about your product or service, or using your product for special contests or promo events.
  • You can target your message geographically and demographically by carefully choosing which stations, shows or times of day to air your spot.

Online – Advertising on the internet is the most targeted and direct method available.  It can also be very cost effective if you plan carefully and target specifically.

  • Online, you have the ability to target by location, race, age, gender, religion, occupation, special interests – the list goes on.  You could easily write an ad specifically for 32 year old female Eskimos that like to knit if you had a product that was perfect just for them.
  • Your ad will appear when people are looking for it.  Chances are if someone search’s for “brass cabinet knobs” that Bob’s Knob Shop will appear in the paid search results, for example.
  • You can track exactly how many people are responding to your ad, and where they are coming from.  You can then use that information to further hone your message and strategy.
  • It doesn’t take much time at all to set up online advertising.  Using Google Adwords or a similar program, you could be advertising in just a few minutes and you can spend as much or as little as you want.
  • Online marketing affords you the opportunity to interact directly with the customer in real time.  If they have further questions about a product, contacting your business is just a click away.

Newspaper – Advertising in the newspaper is becoming less and less effective because fewer and fewer people rely on the paper for their news.  Subscriptions are dropping every year, and that’s not going to change.  But there are still some good reasons to advertise here:

  • Placing an ad in the newspaper is usually a quick and easy turn-around.
  • Being in the newspaper automatically gives your business credibility.
  • Newspaper gives your small business a broad and immediate reach.
  • Of course, with the newspaper you are targeting the area to which it generally distributes, and people that support local small businesses will look here first.
  • You have the opportunity to say more with a newspaper ad because most people are already thoroughly reading the news sections.

Magazines – Weekly, monthly or quarterly publications, especially those whose subject matter is specific to your industry, might be a really good option for your small business advertising budget.

  • Magazines naturally target by interest, and sometimes are also geographic.
  • The production value of your ad tends to be higher in magazines.
  • A magazine will sit around for days, weeks, even months before it’s discarded, which gives your ad repeat opportunities to be seen.
  • If someone gives their copy of an issue away, you’ve just reached another potential customer.
  • Magazines, like newspapers, usually afford you more space for written content, if you think you can write compellingly about your product or service.

Outdoor – outdoor or out-of-home advertising can be billboards, bus stops, benches, etc. where advertising is posted for passers-by to take in.

  • Outdoor advertising is naturally geographically selective.  If you are advertising near your business, your potential customers are that much closer to you when they see the ad.
  • If your ad is on a billboard at a busy intersection, chances are good potential customers are seeing it more than once a day.  That’s a relatively high frequency over the course of a few weeks.
  • Outdoor ads are usually big and have a significant impact on the viewer.
  • Outdoor typically has a lower cost when you factor in the number of times people are being exposed to your ad.

So which options are best for small business?  A lot of that depends on your small business.  If you primarily sell your stuff online, it’s a no-brainer that you should advertise online.  If you have a quaint little shop in your town’s ‘downtown’ window-shopping district, perhaps some nearby outdoor advertising would work for you.  Maybe you own a local restaurant.  People can eat anywhere, but if they’ve heard your radio commercial two or three times on their evening commute, you’ll be top-of-mind when they think about dinner.

The one thing all these options have in common: they all cost money.  So consider carefully what features will benefit your business the most, and choose your advertising media cost-effectively.

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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