A company must use media. If your company doesn’t use media, for all practical purposes your company doesn’t exist.

The major media include television, radio, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, direct mail, telephone, and online. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, reach, frequency, and impact. An advertising agency devotes a major department to the work of finding the best media for attaining a given level of reach, frequency, and impact for a given budget.

At one time a company was able to reach 90 percent of the U.S. audience by advertising only on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Today it is lucky if these three media channels can reach 50 percent of the audience. Companies have to parcel out their budgets over dozens of media channels and vehicles. That’s why targeting is critical. The mass market cannot be reached inexpensively anymore.

Media people are always searching for new media vehicles that are more cost-effective or attention-getting. They are now putting your ads on blimps and racing cars, and in elevators, bathrooms, and next to gas pumps. Yet as ads proliferate, they are in danger of being less noticed.

Your media efficiency can be greatly enhanced by moving toward database marketing. Not only can you send offers to selected members in your customer database, but you can buy additional names from list brokers.

These brokers offer thousands of lists, such as “women executives earning over $100,000,” “business professors teaching marketing,” and “motorcycle owners.” You can test a sample of names from a promising list. If the response rate is high, buy more names on the list; if low, don’t use that list.

You can reach the chosen prospects by phone, mail, fax, or e-mail. The good news is that you can measure the return on your advertising investment. The future of media lies not in more broadcasting, but in more narrowcasting.

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