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It’s a lot harder to get attention to your business today

Published Monday, Jul. 15, 2013, 5:32 pm
Filed under AFP Business

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marketingThirty-two referrals in a year. That’s all a new client of ours was able to get last year out of an annual Yellow Pages budget pushing $30,000.

Those are pretty pricey referrals – right at $1,000 per.

But then again, you have to be in the phone book, right?

Well, yeah. Maybe not with ads costing $2,500 a month, but you need to be there. And you also need to be on TV and radio, in the newspaper, and on the Internet and social media.

And it wouldn’t hurt to have placards in front yards, and rack cards in grocery stores and restaurants.

Wait, so you’re telling us that we have to do all of that to get our word out?

Yeah.

How can we possibly do all of that on any kind of budget?

You’ve just got to be smarter.

Back in the good old days, roughly 20 years ago or so, you only needed to worry about TV, radio, the newspaper and the Yellow Pages. There was the old saying about how you knew half your advertising was working, you just didn’t know which half, but generally speaking, things worked the way they were supposed to.

Cable TV started changing things even before the arrival of the Internet. Going back to the 1970s and 1980s, cable was HBO, ESPN and TBS in addition to the local channels. Which is to say, it wasn’t something that you had to think about at all in terms of your advertising budget. But now, there are literally hundreds of channels vying for and getting our attention, and ratings for the broadcast networks are declining every year as ratings for niche networks inch upward, meaning that you have to be able to read Nielsens to be assured that you’re going to get the bang for your buck that you need out of your TV advertising dollars.

Radio has seen a similar transformation – with the rise first of satellite radio, and later Internet-based services like Slacker and Pandora. Spending money with the local AM or FM station just doesn’t do what it used to do anymore.

Neither does spending money with the local paper. The days when everybody read the paper, watched the local TV news and listened to the local pop station are over and done with. Plenty of people still read the paper and watch local TV and listen to local radio, but just as many, or more, get their information and entertainment from cable, from satellite, from the Internet, that you literally miss out on reaching them if you don’t figure out a strategy for making the connections that you need to make.

And then there’s the phone book. I can’t think of the last time that I used one. There’s not even one in the house here, and it’s been years since I remember having one to thumb through.

If you’re spending all your money on traditional advertising sources – Yellow Pages, local TV, local radio, local newspapers – you’re finding that it’s a lot harder to get attention to your business. You need to diversify your marketing budgets.

Chris Graham is the president and CEO of Augusta Free Press LLC, a full-service web- and graphic-design and marketing firm based in Waynesboro, Va. More online at www.AFPBusiness.com.