By Kevin Nunley
Need big media advertising, but your ad budget isn’t big enough to require the help of an advertising agency? Unless you’re plunking down $250,000 or more per year for marketing, an advertising agency may do you more harm than good.
For the most part, agencies are good at placing big buys for big firms. They can easily blow a small business’ entire budget on a fast campaign that leaves you with little results. There are some smaller agencies that specialize in budgets as low as $10,000 or $20,000, but even this is sometimes more than you might have in your start-up budget.
However, you CAN capitalize on the benefits of the media even if you don’t have a large budget. Here are three tips that you can use to stretch your budget and still get media hits:
1) Be your own ad agency. Place media ad buys yourself. Radio, TV, and newspaper sales people are more than happy to work with small businesses. Radio often works with people who have just a few hundred dollars to spend (and tell us small biz folks can be the most demanding).
Get information on media in other cities by checking SRDS. They now have their media listings online at http://www.srds.com/. The first few visits are free. After that you will have to subscribe.
Many professional media buyers also use http://www.buymedia.com/. Leslie Speidel, a veteran media buyer, says these online database services have revolutionized their industry.
2) Express your opinion. Many newspapers, magazines, and industry publications print letters from readers. Your Letter to the Editor can be a good way to get exposure in a big publication.
Your letter will not get printed if it reads like an ad for your business. Instead, use your letter to let lots of readers know you are someone with inside information, or you have an interesting view, or you have a solution for a problem.
A friend who has a weekly commentary feature on a local radio station managed to get his letter printed in Newsweek.You can bet that raised his standing in the eyes of local listeners. You can get the same kind of benefit by sending a letter to the main trade publication in your industry.
Your letter carries a better chance of being published if it is about an issue that was recently covered by the publication. Pat them on the back for a doing a good job reporting the story, then add your comments (I’ve used this over and over. Editors love it!).
Sometimes you can strike a chord with readers and many more will send in letters either agreeing with you, disagreeing with you, or furthering the argument. You can get mentioned over and over in the publication, sometimes for weeks or months.
3) Use your neighborhood newspaper. Small neighborhood papers focus on a particular part of town. They carry news on events within a few mile radius of their readers. Neighborhood papers also work hard to appeal to businesses in their immediate area.
One consumer told me she pays closer attention to ads in her neighborhood paper. “I know they’re all a very short drive away. The big daily paper is advertising stores that are an hour or more away,” she said.
Neighborhood papers not only feature far lower rates than larger papers, they let you tightly focus on a particular part of town. Specific neighborhoods feature specific income levels and lifestyles. This helps you target your ads more than you can with other kinds of local advertising.
Ad campaigns CAN be a very expensive proposition, especially if you intend to utilize all the major media, but they don’t HAVE to be a budget-breaker. With a little work and some creative thinking, you can promote your company and product on TV, Radio, and Newsprint, even if you have a minimal budget.
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copy writing, and promotion packages.