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WHAT MEDIA TO USE?
Okay, the big day has come and you now feel that the time is right to advertise.  But you are confused!  You only have a limited budget, and don’t know how to get the most bangs for the buck.  What media will provide you with an effective and affordable way to promote your business so that after you spend your hard earned money you’ll have gotten new customers?

First of all, every type of media has pros and cons.  Here are a few: 

Billboards work okay if they are in a high traffic area and have a short, easy to read message, but they could be very expensive, and many times your ad is moved from a good location to a bad location, especially if you are advertising on a limited budget and utilize this type of program.   The better locations are normally the most expensive.  Also, you must remember that the prospective new customer has only a fraction of a second to see your message as they speed by, and the amount of traffic during the time of the year are factors.  Will they take the time, or be able, to write down your contact information?

Television & Radio normally reaches a large audience, depending on the area, but doesn’t always reach your desired demographic. Effectiveness depends on the time of day the ad is run, and if you have a limited budget, normally your ad isn’t given the premium times.  Time of the year is also a factor.  Needless to say, if everyone is away on vacation, your exposure could be less than at other times of the year.  Also, important is where the time slot places your ad.  If you are advertising a product for senior citizens, and your ad is placed in a program about snowboarding, your chances are slim to none that you’ll be getting any new customers for your hard earned money.

Imprinted products such as pens, key chains, baseball caps, t-shirts, etc. normally get your name out there, but do they work?  I personally have six baseball caps, at least thirty pens, various t-shirts, three calendars, and an unknown amount of small writing pads that I’ve picked up over the years.  To tell you the truth, I have never contacted any of the companies that paid their hard earned cash to have these things imprinted.  Also, no one has ever come up to me when I was wearing an imprinted baseball cap or t-shirt, and asked me to stop and wait a second so that they can write down the imprinted information.  If my life depended on it, I couldn’t even name one company’s name imprinted on any of the products I currently own.  I know that the companies that provide imprinted items say your business name must be seen so many times before it is recognized, but is this really the way?

Print media – newspapers are a good way to reach a large amount of the local population, but aren’t always able to zero in to the demographics you want to reach.  An ad in a newspaper is normally very costly, and on a limited advertising budget, you’ll normally get a small, hard to read, black and white ad placed somewhere in a section of the newspaper that people normally don’t go to.  Other factors are the time of the year, weather, and days of the week.  Needless to say, there are less readers when most of the population is on vacation, away for the weekend or holiday, or if the weather is terrible and they don’t even go out of their homes to pick up the paper on that one important day or week that your ad appears.

Print media – magazines are good because they normally reach the demographics their advertisers want the reach.  Since they are usually a specialty publication, and are usually read by only the people that are important to the advertiser, advertisers usually get good results.  But you must be careful about the circulation they provide.  Also, magazine advertising could get expensive if you are looking to run a full-color ad in a national publication.  Unlike newspapers, readers of magazines normally are more educated and keep the magazine for reference long after they read it, so your ad will continued to be viewed long after it is run.  Be sure to advertise in a publication that is published on weekly or monthly, instead of annually, semi-annually or quarterly.  Readers will only pick up the publication once, so the ones that sit on the racks for longer periods of time are a waste of rack space and your money.

Online advertising is the newest and fastest growing way to advertise.  The Internet now provides everything from links on sites, to banner ads on sites, to small ads on sites, to pay per click advertising.  Be very careful when deciding that this is the way to go.  Get all the facts about the amount of guaranteed exposure you’ll receive.  Just because a web site gives a great sales presentation doesn’t mean you’ll be getting any exposure.  This could be a very expensive way to advertise should you be looking for maximum exposure.  An important hint - having your own web site is extremely important in today’s business world.  A well-designed web site can provide you with worldwide exposure. 

Okay, now that you are even more confused, I will end with few last tidbits.  1- Find out the amount of exposure you are going to receive, for the amount of money you are willing to spend, before committing to an advertising campaign.  After all, even if it only costs you $1.00, it is a wasted dollar if you don’t get anything in return.  2 - Be sure to track your advertising for effectiveness by ascertaining from new customers how they found out about you.  3 - The experts say it takes at least three to four times before your ad works, so be ready to commit for a longer period of time.  4 – When designing your advertising campaign ad, use the “What would interest me” technique.  If the ad doesn’t get your attention, it won’t get the attention of others.  Keep it short and make it eye-catching.  5 – Logos, although they are important to you, aren’t always an important part of an ad.  If the public recognizes your logo, why are you advertising?  You want to reach the folks that don’t recognize your logo.  Ad message is more important than a logo, especially if you have a limited space to work with.

Rick Priolo is the publisher of Today’s Senior Magazine at http://www.todayssr.com and he can be reached at rick@todayssr.comToday’s Senior Magazine is a free monthly magazine that is the most read senior publication in their areas of distribution throughout California.