Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Maximum Impact Media Advertising

If you sell a product or service, and want to be successful quickly, you must tell people about it through advertising and marketing.

TV, radio and newspaper are still considered the major media for effective marketing off-line.

However, a lot has changed with these top three marketing vehicles in the past 15 years.

In this article some critical changes are revealed that have occurred and how you can get the maximum impact for your advertising dollar.

Television is primarily an entertainment medium. Research shows the average person spends more time with television than with radio and newspaper combined. For many years, TV was considered the most powerful advertising choice because of the huge audience it provided. Even today, nearly everyone watches some TV every day.

There are three things you must consider before spending money on TV advertising - limited lifespan of your ad, audience fragmentation, and ad avoidance.

Keep in mind that once your ad has aired, it is gone for good. There is no way your potential customer can refer back to it. This fact makes it imperative that you run your ad many times to embed your message in the mind of the viewer. Frequency is important with any advertising, but especially broadcast.

Audience fragmentation is one of the major problems local broadcast television faces today.

At one time, a huge TV audience was split over only a few local channels. Community businesses could reach a large majority of their potential customers very quickly. Large national companies, such as Coke, only had to choose from the three major networks - ABC, CBS or NBC - to reach over 80% of the population.

Today, with cable and satellite TV, this same audience is now fragmented over 200 or more channels. The percentage of viewers on local TV has dropped dramatically. Yes you can run ads on cable and they will spread them out over ten or more channels. This shotgun advertising has not worked well for small businesses because many of these stations have only a half percent or less of the total viewers. And, what are the odds that they will be watching during the 15 or 30 seconds that your ad is presented?

Ad avoidance is also a very rapidly growing problem for TV today.

Because the public watches TV primarily for entertainment, they see advertising as an unwelcome interruption - not unlike the hated telemarketing. This was true 30 years ago but there was nothing a person could do about it except channel surf or leave the room. As you know this was, and still is, often done. Today, with TIVO, pay-per-view, public broadcast stations, and the multitude of satellite and cable channels, the public has shown a willingness to pay for reduced interruption from advertising.

Radio has similar problems. It is also primarily an entertainment medium. As such, advertising is also considered an interruption. Satellite radio is one of the fastest growing industries today primarily because people, again, are willing to pay to avoid commercials. In fact, most new cars have satellite radio built in.

Additionally, radio has evolved into an entertainment source for primarily driving, and background noise at work. If you buy any radio advertising, it should only be aired during drive time.

At home, radio use drops off. People can play CD's or listen to satellite radio. This way they can choose exactly the music or programming they prefer without commercial interruption. The radio industry understands that folks do not want to be interrupted with advertising. Many times radio stations promote themselves by offering "more music, less commercials".

Newspaperes have had their ups and downs, but have steadily maintained their local readership base and strength for local marketing. Even when radio, then TV, came on the scene, people still were loyal in reading their local newspaper.

Unlike TV and radio, advertising in a newspaper is not viewed as an interruption. In fact, one of the reasons people buy newspapers is for the advertisement content. Surveys have shown among 15% and 23% of those buying a newspaper do so primarily for the advertising.

You see, people do want to see and read advertisements. They do want to - and need to - buy products and services. They just want the ads on their terms.

TV's best day of the year is Superbowl Sunday, delivering nearly 40% of U.S. households. In striking contrast, newspapers consistently deliver well over 50% of your community households. They do it every day, 365 days a year. Now that is some serious marketing power.

Another advantage over broadcast that only newspapers can deliver is engagement of the consumer at the moment they are making a buying decision. When a person is reading your ad, it is because they choose to. At that time you have their full and focused attention. And the working life of your newspaper ad is enormous because it is physical and static. Your potential customer can refer back to it anytime they wish, or even cut it out.

You may have heard on TV or radio that newspaper subscriptions and readership are dropping. This is true. But it is not to the degree they would like you to believe.

What they do not tell you is newspaper on line versions are growing much faster than the 7% or so losses in subscriptions. In fact, you will find newspaper web sites are usually the busiest web sites in any community. Be sure you take advantage of this.

Now you can see why today's trend among business people who are in-the-know is away from broadcast and back into the old, reliable newspaper. Most all the major stores are getting back to the basics and finding the print advertising to be the best return on investment. So will you.

Newspapers, of course, should not be your only advertising medium, but it is the solid foundation on which you build an effective marketing plan in today's environment.

Marketing - Back to the Basics

Too many entrepreneurs and small businesses dive right into the thick of operations without following basic marketing principles. In business, as in most things, it pays to occasionally take a step back and evaluate the bigger picture. Drafting a very basic marketing plan can help you focus on the right activities, target the right customers and set the best prices.

The STP Process

STP is an acronym for Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. It represents the highest level of your marketing plan. Ideally, you should start this process before your product or service is ever brought to market. It can still be a worthwhile exercise for and existing product though.


Segmentation is simply a fancy way of saying that you need to identify your customer. Think of every possible customer. Now, start slicing that population into smaller, more defined segments (thus the name segmentation). It's best to start big here - for example: split individuals from businesses. Now, go into each segment and divide it further. You could split individuals further by sex, age, socio-economic status, geographic location, interests and hobbies and so on. At this point, try not to pigeon-hole yourself by prematurely selecting segments. Remember, you're trying to find meaningful groups of potential buyers that will exhibit similar buying behavior.

Your goal is to identify opportunities. Once you feel that you have subdivided the market finely enough, then you need to evaluate those segments. Try to quantify how large those segments are, how reachable they are and how unique they are from one another (i.e. is there considerable overlap from one to the next?).


The next step in the process is to look at the segments you've created and make some decisions about which segments of the market you are going to go after. One of the first decisions you will have to make is whether to target a "mass" market or instead whether your marketing efforts will be more focused. That is to say, are you going for a larger, less defined segment or a smaller more defined segment. The general trend over the last decade has been to go after more defined segments. The extreme here would be to go after a "niche" market which is just a fancy term for a highly defined, fairly small segment. The reasoning being that there will be less competition for those segments.

The segment you choose will have a profound effect on everything else you do. You need to carefully evaluate the most appropriate route for you business. When deciding between different market segments, you will want to try and identify the competition for that segment, the potential value of the segment (i.e. how large is it, how expensive will it be to reach it with advertising, etc.).


You've segmented the market and you've chosen the segment that you are going to go after. The last part of your marketing plan will help you define how you are going to "position" your product or service to your selected target market. This is where you will invoke another handy acronym called the 4P's - Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.


You need to focus your product towards your selected target. What do the people/firms in your segment want or need? If you are working with an existing product, you need to make sure it fits your intended target market. If it doesn't, can it be altered so that it does? It's critical to match the right product with the right customer.


Pricing your offering is an art. You must consider many factors, such as the stigma different price points carry - for example, being too inexpensive sends a message that your product may be junk. It's also critical to consider the competition here. It makes little sense to target the same market with a similar product at the same price as your competitors. Entire books have been written on the subject of pricing. The important thing to keep in mind is that you can't lock yourself into a cost plus profit margin way of thinking. Instead, consider the price independently at first in terms of your competition and the value your offering brings to the customer.


This is what most people think of when they hear the word marketing. As you can see though, it takes a fair amount of work before you get to this point. Promotion is simply how you intend to get the message to your customers about your offering. Will you use commercials, magazine advertisements, radio, the internet, mass mailings?


Lastly, you need to think about how you will bring your product to market. This is sometimes referred to as marketing channels. That is to say, will you sell directly to the customer or will you sell to distributors or retailers who will then sell it to customers? Where geographically will you sell your product? Will you sell entirely on-line or in a traditional brick-and-mortar location?

Bringing it all together

You probably already have some or most of your marketing plan in your head. However, following this tried-and-true process can help you formalize your marketing strategy and can help you to identify holes in your business and it sometimes can help you identify opportunities that you might not have thought to exploit.