Three Tips to Make the Most of Your Advertising Dollars Photo by David Hilowitz, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dhilowitz

Whitney Lewis, Marketing Specialist and Customer Service Associate

Have you ever noticed when your car starts acting up you suddenly hear a hundred different car dealership commercials on the radio? Or maybe your air conditioning goes out in the middle of July and you begin to realize just how many HVAC trucks drive through your neighborhood in a day? Another example that gets me all the time: Without fail when hunger strikes, Applebee’s, Chipotle and all their restaurant cohorts begin dancing across my TV and making my stomach growl even louder.

It’s no coincidence. I, like all consumers, am more in tune to advertising that applies to my current needs (or wants). The opposite is also true. With the exception of some really bizarre commercials that you can’t help but notice, you probably aren’t aware of the advertising of products that don’t interest you. For instance, if you’re a parent of a teenager I bet you don’t notice Pampers commercials the way you did when you had toddlers running around. And I’m just guessing that florist commercials don’t jump out at you on an average day quite like they do the day before your wife’s birthday (which you forgot to buy a present for). Am I right?

You see, despite the common belief, advertising doesn’t make us buy anything. It might make us aware of a product or service that we didn’t otherwise know about, but if that product doesn’t solve a problem or meet a need that already exists in our lives, then most of the time we won’t even notice it.

So what does this mean to those of us trying to sell our products or services? There are three key lessons to take away from this busted myth that will make the most of time and money spent on advertising.

Know your target audience.

There is a group of people out there looking for what your company has to offer. You just have to figure out who those people are. Determine the segment of consumers who have a need that your product or service addresses and get to know them. Be as specific as you can as you narrow down their common demographics, interests, personality types, etc. This may require some research, but it’s sure to be worth it.

For example, a local Kansas City store selling running gear might determine that their target audience looks something like this: Runners in the Kansas City metro area between the ages of 25 and 55, with active lifestyles. They are health-conscious individuals who enjoy being outdoors and consistently take part in group runs such as 5Ks and marathons. (This is just an example and not based on facts or research.)

Know where to find them.

Once you’ve determined who your product or service will help, you can begin to figure out how to find those people. Based on your target audience’s demographics, personalities and interests, you can probably begin to narrow down the media that will most likely be in front of your potential customers.

From our running store example, we could probably infer that the health-conscious target group might also frequent local health food stores, so placing bus-stop ads outside those stores might be a good choice. That’s just one idea, but you can take it much deeper as you go through all of the information you’ve gathered. Be creative and think about where this group of people probably spends their time, and place your messages there.

Don’t waste your money.

Finally, once you’ve determined your target audience, and where you can find these potential customers, you need to act on it. Run TV commercials, magazine ads, radio spots, social media promotions and any other media that makes sense… but only if it makes sense. Don’t spend your efforts sending your message to someone who’s not interested or through media that your target audience will never see.

Again with the running company scenario— runners who enjoy time outdoors probably do not spend an exorbitant amount of time in front of the television set. If you’re fishing in that pond, you’ll probably go home empty handed, so focus primarily on the people that want your business and the places those people spend most of their time.

While you may reach some potential customers by randomly advertising without a game plan, but not nearly in the same masses that you would if you targeted your messages. And you were interested in getting the most for your advertising time and money weren’t you?

A little about Whitney: I love summertime and homemade ice cream. These are just two things that make me excited for the upcoming months. Add a beach and a good book and I’m in heaven! Currently I’m reading the third book in the Hunger Games series and am not ashamed to admit that I’ve jumped headfirst onto this bandwagon.