How do I use advertising to attract quality customers at the least cost?

Advertising is one of the key elements of your Marketing Plan.  The strategies you develop here will strongly influence the success of your business.  It is easy to overspend on advertising so develop your strategies carefully and stay within your budget.  Do not fall prey to the “specials” that businesses in the advertising trade may offer.  Stay with your plan and your budget.

There are some rules of thumb to observe about advertising:

  • Repeat your message at least three times to be most effective.
  • Your ad budget should be 1%-3 ½ % of revenue—consider doubling it in the first year.
  • Spend 60% of budget evenly during the year; 40% during the busy season.
  • Try to use two media types for your advertising, e.g., 60% TV/radio; 40% mail.
  • The message must maturely inform the target audience and be persuasive; not cutesy.

Advertising methods and related costs are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Word of Mouth-The best kind of advertising so make sure everyone you know is aware of your business.  Hand out business cards prolifically.  Place business cards, flyers and brochures in other local businesses.  Many stores, including chains, will permit posting or will take your card for referencing. Deliver flyers to nearby homes and businesses.  File news releases with local media.

Yellow Pages-Do list your business in the yellow pages.  If you have a land line phone, you get the name of your business and the number listed for free.  If you have a cell phone, you can buy a listing for about $25/mo.  A one inch ad, including five or six lines of text including your phone, fax, e-mail or web address costs about $40/mo.  The number to call in the Evansville area is 1-800-382-1777.

local newspaper is typically read by 75% of its total market; men and women almost equally. 71% of people 18-34 read it and 84% of people over 55 read it.  84% of people with incomes of $55K+ and 80% of homeowners read it while only 65% of renters do. Be sure you know the demographics of the customers you are trying to reach.  The cost of a business card size ad is about $250 one time, a ¼  page ad about $1,325 one time. Discounts for repeat ads are substantial e.g., the same ¼ page run 13 consecutive weeks costs about $865 each time.

Newspapers also print and deliver coupon booklets.  A typical coupon booklet might be

7 ½”X4 ½ “ and costs about $800 for one time and about $725/ea. for three times;  a half coupon

(3 ¾”X4 ½”) is $450 one time and $425/ea. for three times.  The big advantage of coupon advertising is that it is easy to measure the response by the number of coupons that are returned.

Locally published magazines, e.g., Evansville Business Journal and Evansville Living Magazine, typically have a relatively low readership but, their readers may fit your demographic needs.  The readership’s household income approaches $100,000, 25%-60% of which are business owners, managers or directors.  Ad rates range from $160 to $680 for a 1/3 page color ad depending on the magazine; a business card size ad is about $175. There are discounts for multiple insertions. Contact the Evansville Courier Press, 812-464-7472, www.courierpress.com  or Tucker Publishing, 812-426-2115, www.evansvilleliving.com.

Radio stations target a specific set of listeners so, picking a station with listeners in your demographic set is critical.  Before picking a station to do your advertising, clearly identify who you are trying to reach and shop the stations for penetration of that market. A station might have 20,000 listeners, 89% of which own their own homes, 21% of which are managers or business owners, 15% are professionals and 58% have incomes of over $50K and 79% are male.   A 30 second ad for this news talk show station might be $12-$20 for the 6 a.m.-9a.m. time slot Monday through Friday, $3 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. A 2p.m.-5 p.m. slot might be $15-$19, $7-$10 and $7-10, respectively.  The price depends on the ratings and the time slot.

Cable TV advertising is affordable and can be effective.  A cable TV provider such as Insight Media might charge from  $2 to $9 for each 30 second spot commercial, depending on the time slot for the commercial, for coverage of Metropolitan Evansville plus Newburgh (73,000 homes).  That would be for 20 channels including AMC, Big 10, Cartoon, E, Hallmark, MTV, SciFi, SOAP, etc. This is the lowest of the four tiers of pricing.  The highest ranges from $6 to $97 depending on the time slot and includes ESPN, ESPN HD, Lifetime, TBS, TNT, etc. for the same 73,000 subscribers (viewers could be more). Production of first 30 second standard commercial is free.  Demographics are available on each time slot. Contact the cable TV supplier for the area you are trying to reach for more information.

As an example of TV station pricing for commercials, a representative station charges $25 for a 30 second ad in the 6 a.m.-8 a.m. time slot, $90 for the 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. “Judge Judy” slot, $125 for the 6 p.m.-6:30 p.m. News, $800 for the 7 p.m.-8 p.m. “House” slot and $750 for the Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. “NASCAR” slot. Fifteen second commercials are available and cost 60% of a 30 second ad. Production cost of the first commercial is free. Their market is 32 counties covering a population of 535,000 people compared to the 73,000 Cable TV subscribers.

Media advertising (newspaper, magazines, TV and radio) may best be purchased through an advertising agency because they buy space or time in volume and can pass along the savings.  Many are listed in the yellow pages.  Much of the information provided here was provided by Media Mix Communications, Inc., 812-473-0600,www.mediamix1.com.

Here are two examples of Direct Mail advertising that have proven to be effective.  The first is an advertising “wrap” that is known in this area as the “Red Plum Wrap”. It is a four page piece with ads on all four pages and it holds all of the other advertising pieces in a “package”.  The Postal Service delivers it weekly to 127,000 households in the Evansville area.  It is claimed that 72% of the households look at this mailing and that 39% make a purchase from it.  A four color ad on the “wrap” costs between $1,726 and $2,921 including layout, printing and mailing costs. A four color 8 ½ X 11 insert ranges from $1,107 to $1,282 complete. These can be targeted to specific zip codes and include a minimum of 20,000 homes. To learn more, contact Valassis/ADVO, 812-471-9011, www.valassis.com.

Data Mail, Inc. uses the postal service for specifically targeted direct mail using census data and zip code data.  Mail pieces can be post card, four page flyer or envelope inserted.  As an example, a customer wanted to send a direct mail piece to sales people who operate out of their homes so Data Mail produced a  four color, 5 ½ X 8 ½  post card mailing to 742 people within a 100 mile radius of Evansville for $747 complete.   If desired, Data Mail will use a mailing list provided by the customer and they will also produce mailing lists only.  In one instance of a very targeted search, Data Mail supplied a list of 1675 companies which met the criteria along with the name of the chief decision maker at a cost of $400.  For more information, contact Data Mail, Inc., 812-484-9227, www.datamailinc.com.

Billboards can be effective especially when used in conjunction with radio advertising because the 71% of people who listen to their car radios pay greater attention to billboards as well.  A 10’ X23’ billboard poster rotated monthly between 12 different billboards throughout the city, costs about $600 per month using the same ad and about $650 per month using a different ad on each of twelve billboards.  The price includes production and printing costs.  Contact Lamar, 812-477-9203, www.lamar.com, for more information.

Mall Advertising is available at the Eastland Mall.  Representative options and prices follow:

  • Sky banners-5’ X 9’, $750/mo. + $280 printing charge

                    -8’ X 14’ $1,500/mo. +$700 Printing charge

  • Table Tents-$500/mo. For 100 tables
  • Door Clings-$500/mo. (3 per entrance)

Other services are also available. Contact Eastland Mall, 812-477-7171.

There are other modes of advertising which business people can explore including the internet and a separate FAQ covers that very important medium.

Advertising FAQ