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Take advantage of local advertising: TV, newspaper or magazines? If your advertising budget can’t cover all the bases, evaluate which ones make the most sense for your shop

Take advantage of local advertising: TV, newspaper or magazines? If your advertising budget can’t cover all the bases, evaluate which ones make the most sense for your shop – business corner

Lynn Fey

When advertising a business, owners have an array of media outlets to choose from. Marketing is certainly not a hard science, but it has an immense track record we can study. And, we can draw some good conclusions about what has worked, what hasn’t worked and why.

Knowing the options and understanding the benefits and limitations of each local advertising medium helps eliminate guesswork and maximize effectiveness.

Newspaper

Like all advertising venues, newspaper advertising has its pros and cons. Newspapers are generally the cheapest way to reach a mass audience, and the timing is fast. An ad can appear just days after deciding to advertise.

You can also change ads frequently and convey a lot of information, and often the newspaper will assist with the design and production at little or no charge. They can also provide valuable information on the buying habits of their readers, which is helpful when evaluating future marketing options. That’s the good news.

The bad news with newspaper advertising is that the quality of the reproduction is often poor, and the competition for attention is fierce. It is easy for all but the largest display ads to get lost in the visual clutter. Repetition and size will help your ads stand out.

In any case, the reader generally scans a newspaper. If an ad is seen at all, the headline will be glimpsed at and the copy largely ignored. And, newspaper advertising has a limited life–a new edition each day–meaning your beautiful ad could easily be tossed in a recycle bin or land in a birdcage.

When does newspaper advertising make sense? It’s a winner when you want to inform a mass consumer audience about a short-term sale, event or special price offer.

Yellow Pages

Yellow page advertising is one of the most cost-effective local service mediums for many area-specific service businesses. In my experience, service businesses (plumbers, carpet cleaning services, lawn services, etc.) benefit most from this form of advertising.

When consulting the yellow pages, a consumer knows the type of service they want, and they are ready to buy.

The downside? Yellow pages require a firm, one-year commitment, and you can’t change your ad once the book is printed. It’s also expensive, and for many small business owners, it can deplete their entire advertising budget.

Since custom framing is a mixture of products and services, yellow page advertising may not be as effective as it is for other businesses. However, I have known custom framers who have had wonderful results from this form of advertising.

My advice is to not go crazy when purchasing yellow page ad space. Wait and measure the results you net over the year. Start small, and most importantly, thoroughly evaluate the benefits you reap each year.

Consumer Magazines

Home shelter magazines can be a great option for reaching a targeted audience of a very specific group of consumers who love home decorating and meet the demographic profile of the ideal custom framing consumer. Basically, you can reach virtually your entire target market.

Consumer magazines allow you to wage a very effective image advertising campaign. The quality of magazine printing offers a nice venue for conveying the beauty of custom framing, and readers tend to peruse magazines carefully, hanging on to each issue for a long time. For advertisers, magazines are a great source of consumer buying data and cross-marketing promotion activities.

Disadvantages include cost and lead-time. Most magazines are produced months in advance of the actual release date, so they don’t offer the flexibility of newspaper advertising, and changing your ad can be costly in film charges. The cost of reaching your audience on a per-person basis is relatively low; however, the overall expense of ad production and placement can be out of reach for many small businesses.

As a business owner, take advantage of pre-created ad materials supplied by vendors or, as a franchisee, through your parent company. These materials are typically high-quality, well-designed money savers.

If you own multiple locations or can establish an agreement with like-minded yet non-competing custom frame shops in your area, you can combine your efforts and budgets to build consumer awareness.

Television

Cable advertising makes television more affordable than it has been in the past and also offers a wide range of programming. It’s a great choice for image building, and you can zero in on any consumer group you are looking for. Many local cable stations will create your ad for free or at a relatively low cost.

Consider television to draw ongoing retail traffic, create a special promotion for an event, grand opening or personal appearance, combat new competition in a proactive way and to build a local brand name.

Television’s downside is its high price. For a successful, image-building TV ad program, you need enough marketing dollars to sustain a long-running campaign. Also the television remote, begrudgingly referred to as a “zapper” in advertising circles, can make commercials disappear.

Radio

For most retailers, radio is a wonderful medium. It offers the lowest “cost per thousand” of any medium.

Radio is a mobile medium that’s everywhere and affordable in both airtime and production. You can get an ad on the air quickly and change your ad message frequently.

The disadvantages of radio are that it has no visuals and no holdover–once it’s heard, it’s gone. It’s also often used as background noise. I have met many custom framers who have effectively used radio in their local markets, but there are challenges. Because custom framing is such a visual product, it’s difficult to convey its beauty over the radio.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is generally the best bet for a small business that is trying to quickly boost sales today. It allows you to reach a specific, targeted audience and helps to foster customer loyalty and build brand awareness over time.

Direct mail has the highest impact of any medium and comes in a variety of forms (postcards, flyers, letters, e-mail newsletters). Your message reaches each recipient in a personalized way and at a moment they have chosen to consider your message.

The downside? Direct mail is often confused with junk mail. You must make sure to target the right audience because the only difference between direct mail and junk mail is the recipient. Your piece will be viewed as direct mail if it is sent to the “right” person, so your mailing list is critical.

This article touches on only a few local marketing options. As a small business owner, you can adjust quickly and respond to market changes faster than larger competitors. Start by being aware of your options so when the need arises, you are prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.

Lynn Fey has more than 17 years of marketing experience with a diverse range of products and services. She currently owns her own marketing consulting firm, InSight Solutions, which is based in Atlanta. She can be reached at lynnfey@aol.com.

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