>How to Buy Advertising on Local Media – Part 1

>Just don’t do it… Just kidding.

There’s a lot to cover here, so we’re going to chunk it up over two posts to give you a chance to digest it all.

First, I’m not going to get into the debate of the validity of local, traditional media here. There is a time and a place for all media. If you have decided you need to do some local radio, television, cable, outdoor, or whatever-then here are the important things you need to know.

The Medium

When you decide you want to use local advertising vehicles, how do you find the right one? Is there one better suited for your purpose? How about is there an advertising medium that is better suited for your industry? Actually, there could be. Let me give you some criteria to judge media, and some examples.

Strength: Different media have different strengths. For example, local broadcast television has credibility, believability, and impact. Local TV can also give you signficant demographic and geographic reach.

Demographics: Specific media generally attract a core audience based on demographics. For example, if you are trying to reach a young audience, say under 21, you generally want to stay away from local radio advertising. Instead, you will have to look for specific cable networks on which to advertise.

Budget: To get results with advertising, you need to do enough of it (more on scheduling in the next post). That is partly determined by your market size, and partly determined by the medium you use. For example, a full-page newspaper ad in Houston costs more than a full-page ad in Elkhart, Indiana. However, you can do a direct mail campaign to 5,000 people for the same budget in both cities.

For small businesses, the larger your market size, the less likely it is that you will be able to afford traditional media. Instead, you may need to rely on local publications or other guerrilla marketing tactics. What you need to know is how much money will you need to do the campaign effectively.

Purpose: When your biggest marketing problem is location and you need to let people know where you are, outdoor (billboards) might be your best choice. When you want people to know you have the lowest prices (and you do have them), print can be powerful. The thing is you have to match the purpose of your campaign to the medium you use.

Wow, that’s a lot of information to get a handle on, isn’t it? Now you can see why so little local advertising is done effectively. How exactly are you expected to get all this information to make an informed decision?

The Media Rep

Unless you are an expert in the media you are buying, this is the most important part of the equation. Be forewarned though, media reps are trained to sell you advertising, not get you results. It is a rare rep indeed that actually knows how to use their medium effectively.

So here is how to pick the right media rep: Use questions. Question them about how they learned to get results for their clients. Question them about the lessons they’ve learned over the years working with clients. But the most important question you can ask your media rep is this: “What’s the best schedule to get results for me?”

If they have the answer without hesitating, then that rep is not for you. Because the real answer is “it depends.” When asked, the media rep should immediately start asking you about what you want to accomplish, what’s your message, and a myriad of other questions related to your business. If instead, they whip out an advertising package, end the meeting as quickly and as politely as you can.

Advertising Package – A pre-packaged advertising plan presented by the media rep with a determined budget and schedule.

These packages are designed to add revenue to the media company by packaging low-demand inventory into a plan that sounds palatable to the advertiser.

Find this special media rep, and you have found gold. Use them as a consultant and rely on their advice, even if it seems irrational. They are the equivalent of your investment adviser and can determine whether or not you get a return on your advertising investment.

We’ve covered the where and the who. In the next post, we cover the how and the what: scheduling and your message. See it here: How to Buy Advertising on Local Media – Part 2

Related Posts:
Power to The Small Business Blogcast: George Parker on Advertising
More Bad News for TV Advertising
Why Advertising Alone is So Ineffective

Small Business Marketing Seminar – Get a marketing plan for your business! DIY Marketing for Small businesses is coming to Temple, Texas on February 28. For details and registration information see our website: The Marketing Spot.


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