Spread the Word
Branding • Advertising • Media • PR
Making Smart Media Choices
Unless you have money to burn, you can’t possibly use all of the advertising options available today. So as a rule of thumb, select only those that will reach your target market in a cost-effective way, then narrow your choices by evaluating the options from your customer’s perspective rather than your own. You may not read the daily newspaper, listen to NPR or follow anyone on Twitter or Facebook, but your target market might. Put your message where your customers are most likely to see or hear it.
One final caution: Beware of spreading yourself too thin. A successful ad campaign relies on consistent exposure and frequent repetition. Twelve small ads, placed once a month in a single magazine, are more effective than one 60-second TV commercial airing just twice in a week.
Newspapers Options include large and small circulation daily newspapers, weeklies and shoppers; select only those that will best reach your target market.
Magazines More targeted than newspapers in subject matter and audience, but also more costly. Narrow your choices, then study circulation numbers and reader demographics to ensure that you will reach your target market.
Television Provides the opportunity to promote products/services both visually and audibly, but cost-per-thousand-potential-customers-reached can be steep.
Radio Less expensive than TV, but with many similar benefits: captive audience (many listen while driving), targeted audience (format/programming varies by station), local market appeal. Drawbacks: short life span and sometimes low audience comprehension (people tune in, but don’t pay strict attention).
Direct Mail Includes brochures, fliers, newsletters, postcards and coupons sent by “snail mail” directly to existing and/or potential customers; mailing lists are key — compile your own or rent one from a company specializing in direct mail.
Outdoor Advertising Includes billboards, transit advertising and signs on site; exposure time is short, so these vehicles must be attractive, readable and to the point.
Specialty Advertising Includes giveaways such as pens, mugs, caps and T-shirts with your company name/logo with a dual function: free “gifts” for customers and advertisements for your business. For best effect, make them useful, reflective of your business and inexpensive but not cheesy.
Company Websites The face of your business and where potential customers often go first to learn about the products/services you offer; may include a mechanism for customers to shop online, if applicable. Use an experienced website designer to be sure your site is both computer and mobile friendly.
Email Marketing Allows for quick distribution of promotions, newsletters and coupons. Just remember to abide by the CAN-SPAM Act; failure to do so can result in hefty fines. Be sure that every person on your distribution list has given permission to be on the list and has the ability to easily unsubscribe if desired. Email marketing services can provide templates, maintain your list and connect to your social media sites, thus freeing you for other management tasks.
Social Media Successful utilization of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube may build a fan base for your firm and create a personal desire to respond to every comment or query. To avoid wasting precious time that could be better spent on more lucrative business-related activities, set a limit on your social media involvement and stick to it. Better yet, designate a staff member to be your social media “specialist.”
Review Sites A website that gathers customer reviews about businesses, products or services, and location information can be your best friend if you offer quality merchandise and exceptional service — or your worst enemy if you don’t. Restaurants, hotels, retail shops and businesses providing personal services may find review sites like Google Plus/Local, Yahoo Yext, Yelp and Angie’s List useful. Consider adding links to your website and/or Facebook business page. Include a physical address and phone number; add photos and a directional map if possible.