Marketing: Where To Place Your Offline Ads

By Aaron Turpen of Aaronz WebWorkz

Many people new to business or who have just started their own business are at a loss when it comes to marketing. I know I was when I first started. Marketing your business online is one step, but what about offline? If you are targeting a local market or wish to do so, then you may wonder where to begin. Most people begin with the classifieds of the local newspaper.

Sometimes this works, but in my experience it is only a waste of effort and much-needed money. The market for most services and products in the larger local papers is too saturated and the cost of running an eye-catching ad long enough to be seen is very prohibitive. There are alternatives, however--many of which have worked for me and for people I've known.

The best alternatives are smaller publications: especially those that reach a fairly narrow or targeted group of people. Small newsletters, weekly newspapers, special interest magazines, etc. are great sources of advertising at a reasonable cost. Chances are that if you're in a business, you subscribe to that business market's trade magazines and publications. Right? So do your potential customers!

Another alternative, especially for businesses who serve a fairly broad market and who aim for lower and medium-income people, are classified newspapers. There are many publications (usually weekly) that carry nothing but classified ads. The "Thrifty Nickel" ads are one of the larger publications of this type--they publish locally, but have an office and distribution area in most parts of the country. The ad rates in these publications are inexpensive and gather a lot of exposure. Further, if you talk long-term with a salesperson from these publications, you can always get more bang for your buck. Ask for a larger ad, or a display ad of some kind and offer a longer contract (say six months) for the larger ad at the smaller ad's dollar figure. Because this is money up front and guaranteed sold space in their publication (and since they're usually on commission) they will generally agree.

More alternatives include movie theaters, co-op advertising, and small-scale mailbox advertising. Movie theater advertising (slideshows, posters, etc.) can be expensive, but if you target a broad market, will pay off in the long run.

Co-op advertising includes mass-mail coupon packets, mass-mail postcard packets, multi-ad bulletin boards, shared television time, and other cooperative advertising elements. These can be very low-cost and beneficial, especially if those involved together can offer a strategic partnership of some kind (i.e. a printing press and an independent small-scale editor).

If you're on a very tight budget and need results quickly, traditional forms of contact including cold-calling and door-to-door sales can get you out of trouble in the short run. If you offer a long-term service, you may get continual contracts from these forms of advertising. However, they are very time-consuming and can be a waste of resources - especially if you carry printed materials with you. The turnaround rate for these is fairly low, as most of the decision-makers may not be on-sight in the buildings you target and most people can see a salesperson (this would be you) coming a mile away and have a large list of refusals pre-programmed in their minds to turn you away. Telephone calls are not much better as the person answering is rarely the person you need to talk to. In fact, the person answering the phone is generally employed to keep people like you from "bothering" the person in charge.

A great alternative to cold-calls is print mail. Postcards are inexpensive and more effective than envelopes and make a great first impression. Especially if well designed and written. The front of the post card should be simple and contain only your return address, the prospect's address, and your other contact info. The back of the card should include color elements to catch their eye (a logo perhaps) and large print headlines to get their attention. Your sales message must be brief, to the point, and geared towards getting their reaction (i.e. phone call or walk-in).

There are a lot of alternatives for advertising out there. A good hint as to what works is to look at your competitors. How do they advertise? In what mediums? What types of ad to they typically run? How often? Most importantly, how well are they doing business-wise? If they are doing well, the answers to the other questions will tell you where you should begin in your advertising considerations.

The number one rule to use is "the longer the better." The longer you ad runs or is visible; the more effective it will be to the audience it is aimed for. Maybe they don't need your service or product this week, but two weeks down the road they might. If they don't see your ad again, they will have forgotten you. If they see your ad enough times, they will begin to associate you with that product or service.

Hopefully, you've gained some new ideas. At the very least, maybe I've reinforced your own thinking. Now go out and do it!


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