Our theme this month is Strategic Planning and to help provide more excellent advice, we have a great post from our guest contributor, Steve Phalen of YourCMO.com on which strategy to pick when you’re looking to optimize marketing.
I was invited to a sales presentation by a television station the other day. They were offering discount advertising packages for small businesses. They brought in a slick-talking, good-old-boy advertising executive who proceeded to explain why all other forms of advertising pale in comparison to television commercials.
He belittled print ads, radio, cable television, and telephone directories, explaining that only television could provide effective reach and frequency. He emphasized how continual exposure is necessary to generate top-of-mind awareness that creates a competitive advantage.
As I sat there, I thought about how this pitch hadn’t changed since I got into the marketing field almost fifty years ago. At the time, it made a certain amount of sense, because those were pretty much the only advertising options people had. Today, however, the landscape is different. A small business’s primary decision isn’t which medium to choose, but whether to go with a “broadcast” or a “reactive” strategy.
“Broadcast” includes all of the legacy advertising methods. You put your information out there, and hope that people will see/hear it and be intrigued enough to search out your business. You have a vague idea what proportion of the available population will see your ad (reach) and how often they’ll see it (frequency), because the medium has done “sampling” research studies. But there is no reliable or real-time way to measure the impact of your advertisement, or to interact with potential customers unless they get in touch with you.
Importantly, you don’t know how many of the people in the broadcast medium’s audience are actually in the market for a business like yours. Many, if not most, of the people seeing a broadcast advertisement don’t care.
They don’t use the product, or they don’t live or work geographically close enough to the business, or they don’t have an immediate need (just recently bought a car, aren’t moving, have a two years left on their mobile phone contract, etc.).
So what’s the alternative? “Reactive” advertising has become a preferred option as the internet has grown so ubiquitous over the past two decades. People who are actively seeking a product or service are increasingly likely to search online for suppliers of such a product or service, giving you not only the chance to expose them to your business, but to lead them to additional information (on your website, for example). You are only advertising to interested people-eliminating the huge number of “wasted” exposures typical of broadcast advertising.
A further key point is that the prospect is identifiable, giving you the opportunity to proactively contact and interact with them, increasing your chance of making the sale. Importantly, this prospect identification also gives you the ability to measure the degree to which prospects become customers.
Reactive advertising provides measurable effectiveness, something that was, and still is, missing in legacy media. I don’t blame the TV station for putting the best face they can on their service-after all, that is what they have to sell. But fast talk can’t obscure the reality that “broadcast” media have become the secondary advertising option for savvy marketers.
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