You Can’t Reach Everybody

When planning your advertising, one thing that paralyzes many small businesses is that they can’t decide on where they should put their advertising dollars. There are so many places that will gladly take their money while claiming to be “#1!” in their niche, so this is understandable. Most small businesses don’t have a huge ad budget, if they have one at all, so there can’t be any waste, which causes them to hesitate and delay. They are stuck, still asking the question, “where should I advertise?”

I get asked that question all the time. I do a little research into their market, and try my best to give them an honest answer based on my experience and research. It is interesting how often I am met with the same response.

But first, the back-story

Before we get to that response, let’s set up an example. Your business sells a product that would greatly benefit if potential customers could see the product selection. If you sell jewelry or furniture, this would apply to you.

Slightly off-topic, free strategy lesson:

Everyone knows what a Ford F-150 pick-up looks like, so you can talk about it without showing it.  Everyone knows what a couch looks like, but what does your couch look like?  Same for jewelry.  One-carat diamond rings look vastly different from ring to ring.  Hmm, maybe you should show your product in your advertising.

Now back to our topic.

Your hypothetical business sells a product that could benefit from showing the product selection in your advertising. Based on your budget and your area, I recommend to you cable television.

I very often get at least one of three responses:

“But doesn’t broadcast TV reach a lot more people?”

“But not everybody has cable.”

“But a lot of people have satellite TV instead of cable in my area.”

What I would like to say is, “So?” But instead I answer a polite, “Yes, that is true, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t advertise on cable.” Why is that? Because your goal isn’t to reach everybody — no one can afford that. Your goal is to simply to reach people in a way that is affordable, effective, and productive.

Here’s an illustration

Back when I was a kid, everyone read the newspaper. However, there was usually two competing newspapers in a town, so unless you had a large enough budget to advertise in both newspapers, you had to choose one. Most people chose the newspaper with the largest subscription base, because it reached the most people. They never gave a thought to the people that read the other newspaper, whom they were not reaching with their ads.

There were businesses advertising in that smaller paper. They did it because they wanted to reach those readers. They understood that the larger paper charged more for its advertising because ads in that paper reached more people. Because the smaller paper reached a smaller number of people, the ad rates were less.

Now let me ask you something. You have one advertisement. You run that ad in both newspapers.  Which ad is more effective? If the ad is the same, then it should have the same effect on the reader regardless of which newspaper they see it in, right? So then, the businesses that only ran in the smaller paper saved money by targeting a smaller group of people.

That was back then, now newspapers are declining and are in danger of disappearing altogether.  But you still have this same situation with radio, TV, and the internet.

So where should I advertise?

There is usually more than one radio station in your area, more than one television station, and a whole world of web sites. You can’t reach everybody, but you do have to reach somebody. It is silly to base where you will advertise on how many people you won’t reach. Instead, base where you will advertise on how many people it reaches and what it costs to reach those particular people.

Here’s some truth in advertising for you: the fact is that reach, the number of people who see your ad, is seldom the problem with a business’s advertising.  More often than not, the problem is the message or the frequency (the number of times a particular person sees your ad). It really doesn’t matter if you choose TV, radio, newspaper, or the internet, as long as your message and frequency are right.

So craft a great message and run it multiple times over a period of time. You’ll see results.

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