Your market research should produce a clear understanding of who your potential customer group is, which in turn will provide pointers as to how to reach them. But even when you know whom you want to reach with your advertising message it’s not always plain sailing.
The Fishing Times, for example, will be effective at reaching fishermen but less so at reaching their partners who might be persuaded to buy them fishing tackle for Christmas or birthdays.
Also, the Fishing Times will be jam-packed with competitors. It might just conceivably be worth considering a web ad a page giving tide tables to avoid going head to head with competitors, getting into a gift catalog to grab that market’s attention.
If a consumer already knows what they want to buy and are just looking for a supplier then, according to statistics, around 60 percent will turn to print Yellow Pages (or similar); 12 percent will use a search engine; 11 percent will use telephone directory inquiries; 7 percent online Yellow pages.
Only 3 percent will turn to a friend. But if you are trying to persuade consumers to think about buying a product or service at a particular time then a leaflet or flyer may be a better option. Once again it’s back to your objectives in advertising. The more explicit they are the easier it will be to choose media.
Above or below the line
Advertising media are usually clustered under two headings, above the line and below the line. It has to be said that the line is becoming increasingly indistinct but it is still a term that is part of the lexicon in setting the advertising budget.
Above the line (ATL) involves using conventional impersonal mass media to promote products and services, talking to the consumer. Major above-the-line techniques include:
TV, cinema, and radio advertising: The vast array of local newspapers, TV channels, and digital radio stations can make this a more targeted advertising strategy than has been the case.
Print advertising in newspapers, magazines, directories, and classified ads: Print of all forms has the merit of having a long life, so it can be used for handling more complex messages than, say, radio or TV.
Internet banner ads act as a point of entry for a more detailed advert.
Search engines: Search engine advertising comes in two main forms. PPC (pay per click) is where you buy options on certain keywords so that someone searching for a product will see your ‘advertisement’ to the side of the natural search results.
Google, for example, offers a deal where you pay only when someone clicks on your ad and you can set a daily budget stating how much you are prepared to spend, with $5 a day as the starting price.
Podcasts, where internet users can download sound and video free, are now an important part of the e-advertising armory. Posters and billboards.
Below the line (BTL) talks to the consumer in a more personal way using such media as:
Direct mail — leaflets, flyers, brochures: Response rates are notoriously low, often less than 1 percent resulting in sale, but direct mail has the merit of being a proven method of reaching specific targeted market segments.
Direct e-mail, social media, and viral marketing: The latter is the process of creating something so hot that the recipients will pass it on to friends and colleagues, creating extra demand as it rolls out. Jokes, games, pictures, quizzes, and surveys are examples.
Sales promotions, including point of sales material: Activities carried out in this area include free samples, try before you buy, discounts, coupons, incentives and rebates, contests, and special events such as fairs and exhibitions.
PR (public relations): This is about presenting yourself and your business in a favorable light to your various ‘publics’ — at little or no cost. It is also a more influential method of communication than general advertising — people believe in editorials.
There may also be times when you have to deal with the press — anything from when you are trying to get attention for a new product to handle an adverse situation, say if your product has to be recalled for quality reasons, or worse.
Letterheads, stationery, and business cards are often overlooked in the battle for customer attention but are in fact often the first and perhaps only way in which a business’s image is projected.
Blogs, where the opinions and experiences of particular groups of people are shared using online communities such as MySpace, for example, are an extension of this idea. Neilson NetRatings reported in 2008 that over 2 billion community sites are viewed every month in the UK alone.
Push or pull Like above or below the line, push and pull are different advertising strategies used for achieving different results. Pull advertising is geared to drawing visitors into your network if they are actively looking for your type of product or service. Search engines, listings in on- and offline directories, Yellow Pages, and shopping portals are examples here.
Push advertising tries to get the word out to groups of potential customers in the hope that some of them will be considering making a purchase at about that time. Magazines, newspapers, TV, banner ads and direct mail both on- and offline are examples here.
As with above and below the line, the distinctions are fast becoming blurred, but the message used in your advertising will be different. With a pull, there is the assumption that people want to buy, and they just need convincing that they should buy from you. Push calls for a different message convincing them of their need and desire in the first place.
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