Choosing Advertising Mediums
To save advertising dollars, you should try one medium
at a time. What works for one product or service may not
work for the next. There are many different variables
that can affect the results of an advertising campaign.
You will have to test the effectiveness of your message
in each medium to find the best vehicle for promoting
Relative impact of different advertising media
- Newspapers are generally the cheapest way to reach
a mass audience. However, newspapers carry many ads.
It is easy for all but the largest display ads to get
lost in the visual clutter. In any case, remember that
newspapers are typically scanned by the reader. If an
ad is seen at all, the headline will be glimpsed and
the copy usually ignored.
- Magazines offer a slightly better opportunity to catch
the reader’s attention. Readers tend to read magazines
more carefully than they do newspapers, and because
magazine ads are placed fewer per page, the competition
for the reader’s eye is reduced. But magazine
ads cost more than newspaper ads.
- Outdoor and transit advertisements are hard to avoid
viewing. But, despite the high visibility factor, no
one spends any great amount of time reading them. They
are appropriate for very simple messages.
- Radio offers a dramatic improvement over print advertisements.
The listener is captive to the message unless they switch
stations or turn the radio off. The cost to reach the
same amount of people that a print ad would reach, however,
is significantly higher.
- Television offers the advertiser an opportunity to
speak to a captive audience. Television viewers are
even more apt to fully “tune into” an advertisement.
The cost, though, of purchasing a television spot is
even greater than that of radio.
- Direct mail has the highest impact of any medium.
Your message reaches each recipient in a personalized
way and at a moment they have chosen to consider your
message. The cost of reaching an individual through
direct mail can be greater than television, making it
the most expensive advertising medium per person reached.
Price advertising is used when a benefit is being offered
to potential customers that is based on price points such
as special sales or everyday discount rates.
- Newspapers are the best bet if you are trying to
inform a mass audience about a short-term sale or special
price offer for a product or service. Newspaper readers
are used to looking through the paper for specials.
In some papers certain days are dedicated to certain
categories. Advertising a category item on a category
day will optimize the number of readers you reach even
though your competition from other manufacturers or
suppliers in your industry will be increased.
- Radio is a second best bet for price advertising.
The effectiveness will be increased if your product
or service has consumer recognition in your market.
Radio advertising costs more than newspaper advertising,
however, and it is more difficult to convey price information
in this format without overwhelming the listener.
- Television is too expensive for price advertising.
Unless you are mixing a price advertising message with
an image-building ad, don’t consider this medium.
- Direct mail is a real wild card. In order to make
this advertising medium cost effective for a “price”
announcement, you will need to narrow your target audience.
- Magazines don’t offer immediate access to an
audience. This may undermine the legitimacy of a special
pricing offer, especially if the sale is for a limited
period of time. Consumers don’t expect price advertising
in magazines and are less likely to respond to such
ads than if they see them in a newspaper.
- Outdoor and transit displays aren’t good for
price advertising. Many of the objections that can be
raised for using magazines as announcement vehicles
for product or service sales can be applied here as
Image advertising is used when the primary advertising
goal is to create company, brand, or product awareness
among a group of consumers so that they may be predisposed
to making a purchase from you when they are in the market
for the type of products or services you sell.
- Television is probably the best medium for image
advertising. The visual action and audio allow viewers
to feel involved with television. The per person cost
to reach viewers through television, which is typically
national in its reach, is very expensive. If you are
targeting a small, local marketplace, check out the
advertising programs offered by your local cable station.
- Magazines are not as effective as television as a
medium through which to wage an image advertising campaign.
They are a strong contender, though. The quality of
magazine printing offers a nice venue for conveying
exciting imagery. The use of color photography is especially
effective in magazine print advertising.
- Outdoor and transit displays also rely on powerful
photographs for message conveyance. They can be effective
for simple image advertising messages.
- Radio is less effective than magazines and television
when used for image advertising. Radio can’t effect
the strong photographic impact of print advertising
or the drama of television.
- Newspapers are not always an effective medium for
carrying an image ad. The graphic reproduction is poor
and the consumer has been conditioned to look at newspaper
ads for price announcements, not image messages. If
you do use newspapers as vehicles for running image
advertising, make sure your ad space is large, perhaps
as much as an entire page.
- Direct mail is a tricky medium to use for image advertising.
A “junk mail” label is the trap you risk
here but it can be effective if it carries an original
message and it looks appealing enough to make people
interested in reading it.
Local service advertising
Local service advertising is used when a service is being
offered to consumers within a specific locale or small
- Yellow Pages or phone book advertising is the most
cost-effective local service advertising medium for
many area-specific service businesses. Advertising in
the Yellow Pages requires a firm commitment for one
year. If you are just starting out in business, don’t
purchase too much ad space. Wait until you see what
kind of results you net over the year. In this medium,
your ad can be smaller than your competitors’
because you are appealing to consumers who are already
seeking your type of service.
- Newspapers can offer a highly effective format for
advertising locally available services. Localized papers
often run a directory of area tradespeople that readers
automatically turn to in search of services. Metropolitan
newspapers may group related services, such as educational
or computer related services, together on an editorially
related page on a specific day each week.
- Direct mail can be a highly effective medium for developing
local service trade. The expense involved in implementing
a direct mail campaign, however, may render this medium
- Television certainly has impact, but this will be
far outweighed by its expense. Unless your company has
an image that must be communicated in order to attract
clientele, such as a dating service might, this isn’t
a good option.
- Radio spots are a poor bet for local service business
advertising. Use it as a last resort if other mediums
don't work for you. Try to find a station that covers
the town or region you serve.
- Outdoor and transit ads are a good bet for image ads
While business-to-business marketing efforts should
be centered on sales or telemarketing programs, advertising
can play an important role in a successful sales effort.
- Direct mail allows you to target an audience comprised
of those businesses most likely to respond favorably
to your products or services. Your product or service
may have a practical application in many industries,
but try to limit your mailings to those with the most
probable buying potential. Always track your responses.
- Magazine advertising in trade-specific publications
that cater to your industry can be effective. There
are hundreds of trade publications that will allow you
to target your customer base more narrowly and at a
- Radio is a distant third choice for business-to-business
advertising. It can be effective if you find a business-only
station or a station, such as an all-news one, with
a heavy concentration of listeners who are business
- Yellow Pages can be the best choice for a few business-to-business
companies in the service sector, but is totally inappropriate
for most others especially product-based businesses.
- Newspapers aren't generally considered high-impact
vehicles for business-to-business advertising. One obvious
place to advertise in newspapers is in the business
sections of both local and national general and business
newspapers. However, most small business won’t
have much luck attracting responses through these fairly
- Television may work for huge national business-to-business
advertisers like airlines, but is unlikely to work for
- Outdoor and transit displays have scant applicability
in business-to-business advertising.
Direct response advertising
Direct response advertising is used when you want to
prompt an immediate response from potential customers.
You want them to make an on-the-spot decision to purchase
your product or service directly from you and not through
a retailer or dealer.
- Direct mail is a good first choice if you are trying
to sell a product directly to consumers that is not
available through retail outlets. It is expensive, but
by limiting your target audience to those most likely
to place an order, it can be more effective than using
another medium that may create interest but not an overwhelming
desire to buy.
- Television is a remote second choice because it is
very expensive. It is no coincidence that most direct
response ads you view on television run on weaker networks
or local access channels during nonpeak viewing hours.
- Magazines work well if your industry has a specialty
publication that allows you to target a specific audience.
- Newspapers aren’t particularly effective venues
for direct response advertisers. You do find these types
of ads in national magazine supplements to Sunday papers.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this can work
for you. Some direct response advertisers who chose
the newspaper medium purchase ad space at remnant prices,
when the publication has odd ad spaces to fill in at
the last moment. Still others negotiate deals to buy
ads at further reduced rates when the publication can’t
even find advertisers to place at remnant rates.
- Radio can be used, but isn’t recommended. Very
few listeners are likely to write down product or ordering
By Streetwise Small Business Start-Up