The reading level for this article is Novice

A wise man once said, “The person who saves money by not advertising is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” In today’s fast-paced, high-tech age, businesses have to use some form of advertising to make prospects aware of their products and services.

Even a famous company like Coca-Cola continually spends money on advertising to support recognition of their products. Last year Coca-Cola spent more than $150 million to keep its name in the forefront of the public’s eye. So the question isn’t whether or not you can afford to advertise, you simply must if you want your business to succeed.

Some questions you should consider before buying ads are:

  1. What media is the best to use?

  2. How important is creativity?

  3. Is there a way to buy space and time that will stretch my advertising budget?

When it comes to advertising, a lot of people really don’t know what they want, where to get it or what to do with it after they have it. This guide will help you learn to determine what type of advertising media is best for you, and learn to identify guidelines you can use to obtain the advertising exposure you need. It will help you identify ways to make your advertising more cost efficient.

Advertising is an investment in your business’s future. And like any investment, it’s important to find out as much as you can before you make a decision. You’ll be able to use this guide as a reliable reference tool often in the months and years to come.

Newspaper Advertising

Every advertising medium has characteristics that give it natural advantages and limitations. As you look through your newspaper(s), you’ll notice some businesses that advertise regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, their advertising investment is working if it’s selling!

Some Advantages in Newspaper Advertising

Almost every home receives a newspaper, either by newsstand or home delivery. Reading the newspaper is a habit for most families. And, there is something for everybody: sports, comics, crosswords, news, classifieds, etc. You can reach certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of the paper. People expect advertising in the newspaper. In fact, many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the supermarket, movies or department stores.

Unlike advertising on TV and radio, advertising in the newspaper can be examined at your leisure. A newspaper ad can contain details, such as prices and telephone numbers or coupons.

There are many advantages to advertising in the newspaper. From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper advertising can be convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes newspaper advertising offers. Even though you may not have a lot of money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads, without making a sacrifice.

Some Disadvantages with Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the newspaper offers many advantages, but it is not without its inherent disadvantages, such as:

  • Newspapers usually are read once and stay in the house for just a day.

  • The print quality of newspapers isn’t always the best, especially for photographs. So use simple artwork and line drawings for best results.

  • The page size of a newspaper is fairly large and small ads can look minuscule.

  • Your ad has to compete with other ads for the reader’s attention.

  • You’re not assured that every person who gets the newspaper will read your ad. They may not read the section you advertised in, or they may simply have skipped the page because there wasn’t any interesting news on it.

How Should I Work with my Newspaper Representative?

Every newspaper has its own sales staff, and you’re normally appointed your personal newspaper “Sales Representative.” A newspaper sales rep can be very helpful. He or she can keep you posted on special sections or promotions that may apply to your business, but always keep in mind it is the sales rep’s job to sell you advertising.

Your sales rep might say that the newspaper can layout any of your ads, pre-prepared or not. But these ads are assembly line products and are not often very creative or eye-catching. Consider using an artist or agency for your ads.

In addition, your sales rep can sometimes be instrumental in making sure your story or upcoming announcement “finds” the right reporter because the relationship between the advertising and editorial staff is chummier than most people think, even though they claim total anonymity.

Buying Newspaper Advertising Space

Advertising is sold by column and inch. You can determine the size ad you want just by looking in the newspaper in which you want to advertise. If you can’t locate an ad that’s the size you want, just measure the columns across and the inches down. For example, an ad that measures 3 columns across and 7 inches down would be a 21 inch ad. If the inch rate is $45.67, your ad would cost $959.07. In case your newspaper is still on the line rate system, remember there are 14 lines to an inch. So, if the line rate is $3.75, multiply it by 14 and you will have the cost of an inch rate. (the rate would be $45.50 an inch.)

Here are some other things to remember:

  • Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on Sundays, which is also the day a newspaper is read most thoroughly.

  • Position is important, so specify in what section you want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for exact position…but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you need it.

  • Request an outside position for ads that have coupons. That makes them easier to cut out.

  • If a newspaper is delivered twice daily (morning/evening), it often offers “combination” rates or discounts for advertising in both papers, You usually can reach more readers, so this kind of advertising may be something to consider.

Other important tips to remember are:

  • Before you advertise, have in mind a definite plan for what it is you want to sell.

  • Create short, descriptive copy for your ad. Include prices if applicable. Consider using a copywriter or ask your newspaper for free copy assistance.

  • Face your products toward the inside of the ad. If the product you want to use faces right, change your copy layout to the left.

  • Be sure to include your company name and logo, address and telephone number in the ad.

  • Neat, uncluttered and orderly ads encourage readership. Don’t try to crowd everything you can in the layout space. If the newspaper helps you with the layout, be sure to request a proof of the final version so you can approve it or make changes before it is printed.

Always make sure you are satisfied with what your advertising says and how it looks before it goes to print.

Magazine Advertising

Many of the same “print” type principles which apply to newspaper advertising also apply to magazine advertising. The biggest differences are:

  • Magazines are usually weekly or monthly publications instead of daily.

  • Advertising messages are more image-oriented and less price-oriented.

  • The quality of the pictures and paper are superior to newsprint.

  • Advertisements involve color more often.

The general rule that you can run the same ad 3-5 times within a campaign period before its appeal lessens applies to magazine advertising as well, even with a monthly publication. So it makes sense to spend extra time and money to prepare a worthwhile ad that can be successfully repeated. Over long terms such as these, however, be aware that the client (you) often tire of the ad before the audience does.

Because ads in magazines are not immediate, they take more planning. Often, an ad for a monthly magazine must be prepared at least a month in advance of publication, so ads detailing prices and items have to be carefully crafted to insure accuracy.

Since the quality of the magazines are superior, the advertising that you generate must be superior as well. Negatives are usually required instead of prints or “PMTs” (photo-mechanical transfers). Consider getting assistance from a graphic artist or an advertising agency.

There are two categories of magazines: trade magazines and consumer magazines. Trade magazines are publications that go to certain types of businesses, services and industries. Consumer magazines are generally the kind you find on the average news stand. Investigate which type would do your business the most good.

An agency can also purchase the magazine space for you, often at no charge, because the magazine pays the agency a commission directly. If you wish to purchase the advertising yourself, contact the magazine directly and ask for an “Ad Kit” or “Media Package.” They will send you a folder that includes demographic information, reach information, a current rate card and a sample of the publication.

Although most magazines are national in nature, many have regional advertising sections that allow your business to look like it purchased a national ad when it only went to a certain geographical area. This can be especially useful if your product or service is regional in nature as well and could not benefit from the magazine’s complete readership. Each magazine does this differently, so contact the one(s) you are interested in and ask them about their geographic editions. Some sophisticated magazines even have demographic editions available, which might also be advantageous.

Radio Advertising

Since its inception, radio has become an integral part of our culture. In some way, it touches the lives of almost everyone, every day. Radio, as a medium, offers a form of entertainment that attracts listeners while they are working, traveling, relaxing or doing almost anything. A farmer, for example, may listen to the radio while he is having breakfast or plowing his field. People driving to work often listen to the radio. Radio offers information such as: news, weather reports, traffic conditions, advertising and music for your listening pleasure.

What Are Some of the Good Things About Radio?

Radio is a relatively inexpensive way of reaching people. It has often been called the “theater of the mind” because voices or sounds can be used to create moods or images that if crested by visual effects would be impossible to afford.

You can also negotiate rates for your commercials, or even barter. Stations are often looking for prizes they can give away to listeners, so it’s possible to get full commercial credit for the product or service you offer.

Advantages to radio advertising include:

  • The ability to easily change and update scripts are paramount to radio broadcasting, since news stories can and often do happen live.

  • Radio is a personal advertising medium. Station personalities have a good rapport with their listeners. If a radio personality announces your commercial, it’s almost an implied endorsement.

  • Radio is also a way to support your printed advertising. You can say in your commercial, “See our ad in the Sunday Times,” which makes your message twice as effective.

What are Some Limitations to Radio Advertising?

Radio advertising is not without its disadvantages too, such as:

  • You can’t review a radio commercial. Once it plays, it’s gone. If you didn’t catch all the message, you can’t go back and hear it again.

  • Since there are a lot of radio stations, the total listening audience for any one station is just a piece of a much larger whole. That’s why it’s important to know what stations your customers and prospects probably listen to. Therefore, most of the time, you’ll have to buy time on several radio stations to reach the market you are after.

  • People don’t listen to the radio all the time…only during certain times of day. So, it’s important to know when your customers or prospects are listening. For example, if you want to reach a large portion of your audience by advertising during the morning farm report, you’ll have to specify that time period to the radio station when you buy the time.

One of the most popular times to reach people is during Drive Times (from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) It’s called that because most people are going to or from work during this period, and because most people listen to their radio when they drive. Unfortunately, radio stations know that this is a favorite time to advertise, so commercial costs are much higher during this time.

  • Radio as a broadcasting medium, can effectively sell an image…or one or two ideas at the most. It is not, however, a detailed medium…and is a poor place for prices and telephone numbers.

  • Radio listeners increase in the spring and summer, contrary to television audiences which increase in the fall and winter and decrease in the summer. This is an important aspect to consider when you are choosing advertising media.

How Should I Buy Time on the Radio?

Like a newspaper, each radio station has its own advertising staff. Each wants you to believe that their station is the absolute best buy for your money…and many will go to great lengths to prove it. But if you’ve done your research, or you are using an advertising agency, you probably have a good idea of the station you want to buy time on and when. If you don’t know which stations you want to use, ask each station for its own research, that is, the type of programming, musical format, geographic reach, number of listeners and station ratings.

By getting the station ratings and the number of people it reaches, you can figure out the cost-per-thousand people (CPM) by simply dividing the cost of a commercial by the thousands of people you are reaching.

Example: Cost of commercial = $35.00, Audience reached = 45,000 people.

Cost of commercial per 1000 people = 35/45 = $0.78 per 1000

Without getting complicated, here are two cardinal rules for radio advertising:

  1. It’s better to advertise when people are listening than when they are not.

  2. It’s better to bunch your commercials together than to spread them apart.

A lot of radio sales reps will try to talk you out of advertising during specific times. They’ll offer you a reduced rate called TAP (Total Audience Plan) that splits your advertising time into 1/3 drive, 1/3 mid-day and 1/3 night. This may sound like a good deal, but airing commercials during times when your audience isn’t listening is bad advertising. If however, you are sponsoring a show such as Paul Harvey or the Morning Farm Report, it makes sense to advertise once or twice a day on a regular basis, since those programs have regular listenership. Frequency is a vital element for effective radio advertising.

Since you can’t automatically recall the radio commercial and hear it again, you may have to hear the same commercial two, four, or maybe six times before the message sinks in. If you missed the address the first time, you consciously or subconsciously are hoping the commercial will be aired again so you can get the information you need. That’s the way radio advertising works. And that’s also the way you buy it.

Most of the time, radio advertising should be bought in chunks. High frequency over a short period of time is much more effective than low frequency over a longer period of time. It’s important for your audience to hear your spot again to get more information out of it. For example, if you wanted to advertise a two week campaign and you could afford 42 radio commercials, the following buy would serve you well: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, place three spots between 7-9 a.m. and four spots between 3-6 p.m. for two weeks. Notice that both day and hour periods are concentrated.

By advertising in concentrated areas in tight day groups, you seem larger than you really are. And people hearing your concentrated campaign for two or three days will think you’re on all the time. The radio sales reps may try to sell you three spots everyday on the station for 14 days (a total of 42 spots). But your campaign won’t be nearly as effective.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your commercials:

  • If you’re including your address in the commercial, simplify it. Instead of “134525 East Pines,” say “at the corner of First & Pines, next to Gumbies.” It’s easier to remember.

  • Don’t use phone numbers in your commercial. If you have to mention your phone number, refer to the Yellow Pages in the local phone book.

  • Radio works better when you combine it with other advertising media.

  • Check out the price differences between 60-second and 30-second commercials. Normally, 30-second commercials are only 1/3 less than 60’s, which makes a 60-second commercial a better buy.

  • Be creative with your radio advertising, too. If it sounds like all the rest of the commercials, it won’t stand out. Your message won’t be heard nearly as well. Advertising agencies are usually quite good at producing creative radio commercials.

If you decide to write your own radio scripts, remember these basic copy writing rules:

  • Get your listener’s attention immediately.

  • Write in conversational style.

  • Avoid using buzz words or jargon.

  • Repeat your important points.

  • Make your ending strong and positive with call-to-action for response.

Television Advertising

Television is often called “king” of the advertising media, since a majority of people spend more hours watching TV per day than any other medium. It combines the use of sight, color, sound and motion…and it works. TV has proven its persuasive power in influencing human behavior time and time again. But it’s also the “king” of advertising costs.

Advantages in Television Advertising

Television reaches very large audiences-audiences that are usually larger than the audience your city’s newspaper reaches. The area that a television station’s broadcast signal covers is called A.D.I., which stands for “Area of Dominant Influence.”

Some advantages of television advertising include the following:

  • Advertising on television can give a product or service instant validity and prominence.

  • You can easily reach the audiences you have targeted by advertising on TV. Children can be reached during cartoon programming, farmers during the morning agricultur al reports and housewives during the afternoon soap operas. A special documentary on energy sources for heating homes and business will also attract viewers interested in heating alternatives.

  • TV offers the greatest possibility for creative advertising. With a camera, you can take your audience anywhere and show them almost anything.

  • Since there are fewer television stations than radio stations in a given area, each TV audience is divided into much larger segments, which enables you to reach a larger, yet, more diverse audience.

Disadvantages in Television Advertising

Because TV has such a larger A.D.I., the stations can charge more for commercials based on the larger number of viewers reached.

The cost of television commercial time is based on two variables:

  1. The number of viewers who watch the program.

  2. The time during the day the program airs.

One 30 second television commercial during prime time viewing (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) can cost 10 to 30 times more than one radio spot during drive time (which is considered prime listening time).

While the newspaper may cover the city’s general metropolitan area, TV may cover a good portion of the state where you live. If such a coverage blankets most of your sales territory, TV advertising may be the best advertising alternative for your business.

Producing a commercial is also an important variable to consider. On the whole, television audiences have become more sophisticated and have come to expect quality commercials. A poorly produced commercial could severely limit the effectiveness of your message, and may even create a bad image in your customer’s mind.

Advertising agencies or TV commercial production facilities are the best organizations for creating a commercial that will be effective for the goods or service you are offering. But the cost of a well-produced commercial is often more expensive than people think. Some TV stations will claim they can put together commercials for “almost nothing.” Before agreeing to this, find out what “almost nothing” means. Then, determine if the commercial quality and content they are proposing will represent your firm’s image.

Many companies use the station’s commercial production facilities for creating “tag lines” on pre-produced commercials. Often, the station will help you personalize the spot for little or no cost…if you advertise with them. Remember, more than anything else, when it comes to making a TV commercial, you get what you pay for. And when you’re buying commercial time, it makes sense to have the best sales presentation possible.

Remember, like radio, the message comes and goes…and that’s it. The viewer doesn’t see your commercial again unless you buy more placements.

Creativity: A Vital Element

When you advertise on TV, your commercial is not only competing with other commercials, it’s also competing with the other elements in the viewer’s environment as well.

The viewer may choose to get a snack during the commercial break, go to the bathroom or have a conversation about what they just saw on the show they were viewing. Even if your commercial is being aired, viewers may never see it unless it is creative enough to capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to consider the kind of commercial you are going to create…and how you want your audience to be affected. Spending money on a good commercial in the beginning will pay dividends in the end.

Don’t Use TV Unless Your Budget Allows

Attempting to use TV advertising by using a poorly-produced commercial; buying inexpensive late night commercial time that few people watch; or just placing your commercial a couple times on the air will guarantee disappointing results. To obtain positive results from TV advertising you must have enough money in your budget to:

  1. Pay for the cost of producing a good TV commercial.

  2. Pay for effective commercial time that will reach your viewer at least 5-7 times.

Properly done, television advertising is the most effective medium there is. But it is big league advertising…and you shouldn’t attempt it unless you have enough money in your budget to do it right.

If you’re still attracted to TV, it’s a good idea to call in an advertising agency for production and media buying estimates. Then, figure out what sales results you can expect. With such data, you should be able to reach a logical advertising decision.

Buying Television Advertising Time

There are many things to know and consider before buying a TV programming schedule. That’s why, in most cases, using an advertising agency or a media buying service is recommended when advertising on TV. If these services are unavailable, find a TV representative that you can trust. Your agency or representative can help you select the programs you should advertise on in order to reach your market. Also, ask about “fringe” time, adjacencies and package plans.

When you are engineering your schedule, remember that repetition (or frequency) is a very important ingredient to use. Make sure your audience sees your commercial with the context of the programs you’re buying. Ask for a commercial affidavit. Normally, it doesn’t cost any more and the station will provide you with a list of the exact times your commercial was run.

Other Considerations

For an effective and inexpensive way to get your message on the TV screen, consider using pre-prepared TV commercials that may be available to you through a manufacture or distributor you deal with. You can add your name and logo to the end of the commercial for little or no cost. Look at cooperative advertising too. Many companies offer prepared advertising materials you can use and at the same time may pay for a portion of the advertising schedule.

Cable Advertising

Cable advertising is a lower cost alternative to advertising on broadcast television. It has many of the same qualities as broadcast television, and in fact, since it offers more programming, it’s even easier to reach a designated audience.

The trouble with cable is it doesn’t reach everyone in the market area, since the signal has to be wired instead of broadcast, and also because not everyone subscribes to cable.

If cable does reach a large part of your market, have an advertising agency investigate its cost or call the cable company’s advertising sales department. Chances are the commercial time will be 10 to 20 percent of the costs of regular broadcast time.

Yellow Pages

Telephone book advertising is another way to reach your market area. It allows you to place your business listing or ad in selected classifications within the book, with the theory being that when people need your product or service, they look up the classification and contact you.

Much of the “sell” copy for a product or service, therefore, does not have to be in your ad content, since the people who have looked up your classification are already in the market to buy. The thing to be aware of when you write the ad is the other firms’ ads within your classification. In other words, why should the reader select your firm over your competition? That is the crucial question — and your ad should provide the answer.

Telephone Yellow Pages salespeople often employ the technique of selling as large of ad as they can to one company, then showing the other companies in the same classification what the one company is doing so that they can match it or beat it. This is not the best criteria for determining ad size, but is definitely good for the ad salesperson.

To determine the size you should use, consider the following:

  • Your ad should be large enough to incorporate the vital information the reader needs to make a contact decision (as mentioned above).

  • Remember your lessons in print advertising. Keep your ad clean, creative and eye-appealing. Even though the phone company will “design your ad for free,” some firms employ graphic artists and advertising agencies to create a Yellow Pages ad that really stands out.

  • Give yourself a budget to work with. Figure out how much you want to spend on Yellow Pages advertising for the entire year, then divide it by 12. That will give you the payment that is automatically attached to your phone bill every month.

  • Do something unique or different. If no one else is using color, use color. Even shades of gray can make an ad look better and more appealing.

Advantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

  • One ad works all year long.

  • Gives your prospect a method of easily locating and contacting your business, even if they didn’t initially know your name.

  • Can help you describe the differences between you and your competition.

  • You pay by the month instead of one large payment.

Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

  • You must commit to an entire year of advertising.

  • You are immediately placed with a group of your competitors, making it easy for the prospect to comparison shop.

  • Some classifications are so cluttered with advertising, your ad is buried and ineffective.

  • It is only effective when a prospect looks you up in the correct classification, assuming the prospect knows what classification to look for in the first place.

If you require more than one classification, your Yellow Pages representative often has packages and programs that can save you some money. In addition, the same is often true if you need to be advertising in more than one city or market.

Yellow Pages advertising is an important medium to consider in our fast-paced, information-hungry society. People really do let their “fingers do the walking” instead of driving around blindly. Make sure your Yellow Pages ad is attractive and informative enough to be the one or two businesses the prospect actually does select to call. And then make sure you have the resources to deal with the inquiry. After all, there is nothing more annoying than being put “on-hold” by a busy checker or being served by an uninterested or unknowledgeable employee.

Outdoor Adverising

When people think of Outdoor Advertising, they usually think of the colorful billboards along our streets and highways. Included in the “outdoor” classification, however, are benches, posters, signs and transit advertising (the advertising on buses, subways, taxicabs and trains). They are all share similar advertising rules and methods.

Outdoor advertising reaches its audience as an element of the environment. Unlike newspaper, radio or TV, it doesn’t have to be invited into the home. And it doesn’t provide entertainment to sustain its audience.

Some Outdoor Advantages

  • Since it is in the public domain, Outdoor Advertising assuredly reaches its audience. People can’t “switch it off” or “throw it out.” People are exposed to it whether they like it or not. In this sense, outdoor advertising truly has a “captured audience.”

  • It’s messages work on the advertising principle of “frequency.” Since most messages stay in the same place for a period of a month or more, people who drive by or walk past see the same message a number of times.

  • Particular locations can be acquired for certain purposes. A billboard located a block in front of your business can direct people to your showroom. Or you can reach rural areas efficiently by placing a billboard in each small town.

  • Outdoor advertising is an excellent adjunct to other types of advertising you are doing. In fact, it is most effective when coupled with other media.

Some Outdoor Disadvantages



    This Sales & Marketing article was written by on 2/28/2005

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