So here you are, all ready to start your business. You’ve got the phone lines set up, you’ve got your inventory ready to go, but how do you get your customers? There are several ways to reach prospective customers, but none more popular than media advertising. Even before your doors are open, you will be flooded with women in pantsuits and men in crisply pressed shirts with fancy titles like “Account Executive” or “Account Manager”. In reality, these people are salespeople. Each of them is coming after your advertising budget, promising the world, and telling you that their respective form of advertising gets more results than the rest. You have now become a piece of the 200-billion dollar puzzle.
In the past, business owners and managers could put an advertisement in the newspaper, and they could reach anyone. Reach is what everyone tries to sell. It is how many people will come into contact with your ad. With newspaper ads, they reached men, women, and even some children, because everyone always read the paper. When the newspaper was the king of advertising, they were the recipient of over seventy-five percent of all advertising dollars. In today’s electronic world however, the king is slowly being removed from his throne. Newspaper circulation continues to drop year after year. Today the average newspaper is down almost forty percent in subscriptions. The ever present “reach” that was used to the newspapers advantage is slowly slipping away. In 2001, for the first time since the beginning of advertising, newspapers did not generate the highest percentage of advertising dollars, falling to less than twenty percent of the market share. Who did they fall to? Television.
Television has taken and continues to take the advertising world by storm. With thirty second ads costing millions of dollars to run in the super bowl, it comes as no shock that television takes a whopping twenty five percent of all advertising dollars. The reason is complex, but the simple version is, more people are plopping down in front of the TV and doing less and less reading of the newspaper. Newspaper ads are stationary and you can’t see radio ads, as to where Television provides one visual paradise after the other. From beautiful women on the beach, to tough men drinking beer. Television relates to everyone, and is the most intrusive of all advertising, meaning those ads are with you in your home, or in places where they come to you, not you coming to them.
Radio advertising is the “little engine that could” of the ad world. You can’t see them, so the creative geniuses that come up with radio ads have to, in thirty or sixty second increments, grab your attention. With the radio dial only inches away from your hand, this provides some very tough circumstances. Radio accounts for approximately eight percent of all advertising dollars spent. Impressive, considering its limitations. Although not as intrusive as television, it does have the ability to speak to you in your car, and hopefully move you. Radio is the only form of media advertising that doesn’t seem to have major ups and downs. You can generally count on radio to be consistently taking seven to ten percent of he advertising pie.
Direct mailers. We all get them, and we all hate them. Or do we? Direct/Mass mailers account for almost twenty percent of all advertising dollars, putting it right up there with old standby, the newspaper. You might seem to throw away the pieces that don’t appeal to you, but when is the last time you ordered a delivery pizza…..with a coupon? Where did you get that coupon? That’s right, direct mail. Although it would seem as if advertisers could find an advertising avenue with better statistics of being seen, they aren’t willing to lose the business they get, to find out.
Times Square is littered with them, you see them all over the interstate. Some make you laugh, some make you cry, and some you just ignore. I’m talking about billboards. Billboards are one of the most expensive methods of advertising, but year after year, they are one of the most effective. If you are taking a family vacation, and hunger sets in, where do you go? If you aren’t in familiar land, you start looking at billboards to see what exit to take, and chances are you will end up eating at one of the places you saw on a billboard. At roughly five percent of all advertising dollars, Billboards continue to be one of the most effective methods of advertising. Unfortunately, they have yet to come up with a roaming billboard, therefore, the billboard exposure is brief, giving the advertiser only one shot to win over the prospective customer.
Last but not least, they Yellow Pages. When was the last time you used them? In this day of directory assistance, the internet, and other forms of electronic advertising, the Yellow Pages is outdated right? Wrong. They still get six percent of all advertising dollars. Even though radio and television stations promise to keep your commercials from airing near your competitors and the Yellow Pages puts you right beside them, people still spend a lot of money with the Yellow Pages. However, like the newspaper, people have realized the Yellow Pages doesn’t have the same effect it once did, and are seeing the advantages of using other methods of advertising, but they aren’t pulling their ads, the same as the Car dealers and real estate agents aren’t pulling their newspaper ads, they are just making them smaller.
So Mr. Business owner, the question for you is, which form of advertising should you use? There is no definitive answer, all forms of media advertising are very effective for different types of business and different types of customers. Don’t let the account executive run you over, ask questions that are important to you. Chances are, you will find out what works best for you, and no one said you have to do just one. Have your newspaper ads compliment your radio spots, or your billboard compliment your TV ad. It never hurts to try different forms because as proof of this being a 200-billion dollar industry, they all work……..of course if you have a few million to spend, those super bowl ads really seem to get attention.