Many of us are so busy doing all the things we must do to run a business we tend to react to our competition's advertising rather than going on the attack ourselves. They advertise in newspapers and on radio and TV, so we advertise in newspapers and on radio and TV. They put out circulars, so we put out circulars.
But if your business is to prosper now and in the future, you'll need to squeeze out every bit of value from each advertising dollar.
Instead of reacting, go on the offensive using whatever type of advertising—newspaper, radio, TV, direct mail—that has yielded the greatest return for your investment in the past.
At the same time, be sure to widen your options to include other non-traditional advertising possibilities that can be far less expensive than the customary media. Dare to be different. Advertise in some non-traditional areas.
The following is a list of traditional advertising media and the particular advantages of each type:
1) Radio is an intimate medium offering advertisers the ability to spend time in one-on-one conversation with the audience.
2) Newspapers primarily are for disseminating news. Thus, such advertising (other than the classified) should be newsy, interceptive, and to the point.
3) Magazines seek to get readers involved in their subject, so magazine ads should include more in-depth information as well.
4) Television is the most comprehensive of all advertising media, allowing use of actual demonstrations to persuade the sales prospect.
5) Direct mail advertising permits users to take careful aim at targeted customers.
6) Billboards remind observers of your company's existence and its reason for being.
7) Telephone Yellow Pages advertising reaches prospects at the time they're prepared to buy.
8) Signs on trucks and cars function like moving billboards.
9) Signs directly in front of your store building could be the most effective medium of all since they connect immediately with your business.
Here is a similar list of non-traditional advertising venues and their respective advantages:
1) Point-of-purchase advertising generates impulse reactions at the place where 75 percent of the purchasing decisions are made. These can be in the form of printed signs, video messages, holograms, moving signs or carton labels.
2) Canvassing potential customers gives you personal contact with them. It requires more time than any other form or advertising, but can be highly effective.
3) Classified advertisements hit prospects on the lookout for a bargain.
4) Product brochures offer an opportunity to go into great detail about your products and services.
5) Telephone marketing is the most intimate form of non-traditional advertising and offers great flexibility. It can be used alone or in combination with other media.
6) Roadside bulletin boards help establish your business as part of the community and increase the confidence people have in you.
7) Advertising specialty items, such as calendars, pens and key chains, like billboards, remind customers of your existence.
8) Exhibiting your products and services at trade shows permits you to contact purchase-minded people who are thinking about the topic of the show or exhibits.
9) Participating in car clubs and civic groups lends credibility to your business and keeps its name in the public eye.
10) Circulars function like brochures, but don't include as much detail. They can be handed to passersby, placed on car windows or in mail boxes, or handed out during public events such as soccer matches, football games etc.
11) Small outside signs situated in high-traffic locations attract attention, particularly when decorated with bright colors and sporting a surprising offer. They are most effective when situated in highway median strips, along roadsides or on residential front yards. Realtors and politicians have been using such signs for years.
12) Bumper stickers have been used effectively for years by car dealerships and others to increase public recognition of their name.
13) Sales messages printed inside golf cups also represent a golden opportunity for advertisers.
14) Small signs or bulletins in restaurant lavatories and hallways get plenty of attention.
15) So do small signs positioned at ball parks, in auditoriums, gymnasiums, concert halls etc.
16) Signs posted on the premises of other types of businesses are also effective. Make a deal with the owners of other non-competitive businesses. You agree to display their sign provided they'll display yours.
17) Messages printed on paper car mats also are eye-catching. Make deals with car dealers and others to use those you provide in their operations.
18) Messages posted on bus stop walls are another possibility.
19) Park benches, donated to the community, also can carry your advertising message.
20) Community swimming pools offer other possibilities.
21) On-screen ads in movie theaters have a captive audience.
22) Signs posted on gas pumps work well also. Make a deal with service station owners and give away gasoline as a prize at a special promotion.
23) Direct mail flyers sent to factory workers, members of labor unions, school teachers, firefighters etc. are also a good bet; and
24) Electronic messages displayed by ATM machines—stills and videos—offer yet another possibility.
As you can see, there are many non-traditional places to advertise. Look around your community. Notice what other advertisers are not doing and apply your imagination.
Your customers are bombarded with more than 2,500 advertising impressions each day. So go on the attack and gain the advantage over the competition.
Even if you're on a limited budget, you can be a market leader in innovative advertising—increasing sales and reducing costs in the process.
Mr. Janet is president of Marketing Consulting & Retail Advising, a business consulting firm in Lock Haven, Pa.