Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can You See Me Now?

What medium are you using to increase your business visibility? No, I'm not talking about a clairvoyant - though that would be nice. I'm talking about a means of communicating your information; for example, print, TV, radio, billboards, etc.

Let's break it down. You have a business - big or small. It could be an appliance store with 100+ employees or it could be just you and your hand-made jewelry. Doesn't matter. You have a product or service to sell, and you need to market it. And no matter what size your business is or how small your budget, there's a medium for you.

We'll start with the basics, and the pros and cons of each.

1) Television
Television can be a great way to give a wide exposure of your business, especially if what you do involves strong visuals. For instance, you're a furniture store wanting to showcase your inventory. You're a medical practice with a comfortable waiting room and an easy-access building. You're a restaurant specializing in ambiance and beautifully presented food.

Television is also a good medium to consider if you want to target a certain audience. Sure, if you want to run a :30 commercial on "Dancing With The Stars" it's not going to be cheap, but you will reach a HUGE audience in a prime time market. But there are certainly many cost-effective options, including package deals, and the increasing popularity of the lower-priced cable stations. Many times, the TV stations can help you with production as well. The con here of course is that TV CAN in fact be expensive, and you do have to have the frequency to make it worth your while.

2) Radio
I'm a big fan of radio, and here's why. It's a good deal, and it's easy. I'm pretty familiar with the stations in town, and can direct any client to the station or stations they will fare best in based on their target audience. I write the spot, the station produces it, and you can be on the air sometimes within days, based on availability.

Radio certainly can give you the frequency that you will not get on TV. And though many may say that radio has gone by the wayside in favor of ipods and other devices, there are still a plethora of "radioheads" out there listening to everything from heavy metal, to easy listening, to good old talk radio. The only con here is the challenge to sell your product or service without it being seen. (That's where I come in.)

3) Print
Read anything online, and it'll tell you "print is dead". I disagree. Sure, circulation numbers for newspapers and magazines have seen a decline since the dawn of the online versions, but print still works for a certain market in certain situations. For example, I do read the newspaper online. However, nothing compares to sitting down with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper - the real paper. I would guess that many people - especially the older generations - agree.

Trade and general interest publications are still a safe bet. And local magazine are still doing well. In Peoria, movers and shakers in the business world should not pass up InterBusiness Issues, to advertise in or to read. If you're medical, Healthy Cells is a good place to be, and with a contract you can even publish occasional articles. That's double marketing right there! There's also Midwestern Family Magazine - a great read with tons of ideas on things to do in Central Illinois. The cons here: ads can be pricey, and unless you sign a contract, you won't reap the benefits of a frequency discount. There are deals to be had, however.

4) Billboards
I have really come to appreciate billboards in the past few years, especially since Adams Outdoor unveiled the digital billboards. Eye catching and ever-changing, you can't help but spot them at various locations around the area. Billboards are advantageous especially if you need to market something timely: a seminar, an open house, a new business, a change in location. In addition, if there is a billboard NEAR your place of business, you need to snatch it up before your competitor does. (And I say this from experience). Again, there are deals to be had, and with the right reach and frequency, you WILL see results.

5) Online
Anything you can see, read or listen to is probably available in an online version. Clickthrough ads on sites such as ciproud.com, week.com, or pjstar.com can be one of the fastest ways to direct people to your website and can be a great supplement to any of the above mediums. The benefits are that for the most part, you can change the ad regularly and easily, and clickthroughs can be measured daily, so you can get a true sense of how many people saw your online ad and followed through to your website.

6) Miscellaneous other mediums
There are a host of other mediums that are available based on your budget and the goals you want to achieve. From direct mail, coupon books, cinema advertising (yes, you CAN advertise on the big screen!) to shopping cart advertising, the back of grocery receipts, and basic yard signs to name a few. These require a bit more research and have a more fine-tuned market, but do produce results for the right business or service.

So if you want to be seen, check out a medium. Better yet, contact me and let me check them out for you. Above all, make sure you allocate dollars for media into your budget. It is necessary, and if researched and planned and placed the right way, it will affect your bottom line in a positive way and you'll be seeing rising sales in your future.

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