Making the Most of Your Advertising Dollars

That’s a great question that becomes increasingly more complicated with the proliferation of online advertising. Just a decade ago, the choice was much simpler—television, radio, print or outdoor. Then, along came cable television with its multiple channel tiers, each with its own targeted audiences.

Still somewhat manageable, media placement was still fairly straightforward for a business owner, especially one in mid-Michigan. Larger organizations continued to rely on their marketers or agency to make the best advertising decisions and, in turn, provide evidence that the ads actually worked in attracting customers.

Online ads complicate mix

Everything traditional advertisers knew about placing media was pushed aside with the growth of online advertising. While the Coca Colas and Apples of the world were the first to tip their proverbial toes in the Web advertising pool, small businesses looked the other way in hopes that they could continue advertising in their tried-and-trusted outlets.

Done right, the results of effective online ads were undeniable, attracting the attention of small business owners who wanted to diversify their advertising mix and take a chance on the Internet. Wanting to remain competitive, traditional outlets launched their own cyber sites to encourage current advertisers to remain faithful. Newspapers and TV outlets enticed advertisers with free placements on their websites when they purchased traditional advertising. This gave smaller businesses the chance to swim in the online pool with the big fish.

Some liked what they found; others weren’t impressed. The curious thing about advertising, especially online advertising, is that it takes commitment in both money and time. Those not allocating enough resources get lost in cyberspace, while businesses who want in and out quickly are a mere blur that never got noticed.

Know your e-stuff

Knowing how to navigate through all the online advertising opportunities requires a certain expertise so that you’re not putting your ad dollars into a black hole that demonstrates no return on your investment. Be it search engine optimization and Google ads or pop-ups and online phonebooks, the choices are nearly limitless. Good, strategic selections, however, limit these options when determining targeted audience, messaging, appropriate venue and other important decision points.

Making these critical placement choices is the first step. Next, a business needs to identify how it will measure success. Online metrics include impressions, cost per click, click-through rates, conversion rates, demographic information capture, responses to call to action, and offer redemption. Every dollar invested should be aligned to a measurable outcome in order to effectively measure ROI.

Know your customer

Fortunately, much of what makes traditional advertising effective also works for online ads. Knowing your customer (or potential customer) will help you best decide where to place your advertising dollars.

For example, colleges and universities want to attract high school teens and young adults. Putting all their ad dollars into a printed daily newspaper and network TV won’t hit their targets, who get the majority of their news and education information from the Web. Coined as “EduSeekers” by Google, 41 percent of their media consumption is online with only 13 percent being spent on newspapers. Conversely, institutions of higher education nationwide spend 52 percent of their ad budgets on newspaper and allocate only 1 percent to online advertising.

So, you can see how important it is to understand not only who your targeted customers are but also where they spend their time seeking information on products or services. Not knowing can be a costly or fruitless endeavor.

Yet the question remains: Where should you invest your business’ advertising dollars? It could very well be online as a Facebook ad or through Google Adwords and display ads. Or, it may be during the season finale of Dancing with the Stars on ABC or your local business magazine. Just remember to put your hard-earned money where your customers are and where you can measure the results.

Lorri Jandron, MBA is the president and CEO of Edge Partnerships, a full-service marketing, public relations, branding, advertising and advocacy agency in Lansing’s Old Town.








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