Bang for Your Buck: Where to Put Your Marketing Dollars

adsI can’t believe I’m writing a post about advertising. Historically, this is not my area of expertise. But I’ve learned a lot helping the local businesses I work with find the best way to use their advertising budgets, no matter how modest. Working with over 100 different companies, many of them small, family-owned businesses, I’ve had the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t:

Just Because You Build it, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come.

It may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but in the real world, just because you set up a storefront and a website doesn’t mean you’ll get customers, even if you have a much-needed, quality product.  You’ve got to put your name, logo, face in front of people multiple times, so when they do need your service, you are the one at the top of their minds.

Keep it Local.

One of the prime questions people often fail to ask when considering advertising is, “Who’s my audience?” If your target market is the Hill Country, because of your location or the type of service you offer, do you really want to pay to advertise all over Austin? Why not concentrate your efforts in your specific area and get ads in two or three publications for the price of one, instead spread over the entire city, when most of the readership is never going to make the trip to your store.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

You may have heard “content is king.” It’s common marketing adage, meaning you have to offer something besides advertising to win your audience’s trust. This is why so many people write professional blogs; it builds credibility. And your brand is more likely to stick around on someone’s coffee table, where multiple people will see it repeatedly, if there are educational articles to keep it there. This can be a much more effective marketing tool than those expensive, glossy postcards that often go straight to the recycle bin. Example: I picked up an issue of Austin magazine at the grocery checkout the other day, just because my doctor’s photo was on the front cover. That magazine is still sitting on the table next to my couch, where I pick it up and leaf through it occasionally.

Be Patient.

So you run an ad in a couple issues of a community publication. Nothing’s happening. You don’t feel like you’re getting any business from it, and you want to pull out. Two things:

  1. This is a long-game process. Your return will come a year or so after you begin your campaign, as people have seen your presence repeatedly and you build your credibility in your community, ideally through multiple channels. Volunteer work and sponsoring school or charity events can pair well with your print advertising efforts.
  2. People’s minds are funny. You can ask clientele where they heard about your business, and most of the time they won’t know. The name of your company worked its way into their brains slowly, as they saw your ad in a magazine, then an article you wrote, then your name on the banner of the elementary school book fair. Case in point: In one experiment, an outdoor furniture company found many of their shoppers said they’d heard about their sale on television, when the company hadn’t even run a TV ad.

So, do choose multiple venues for your advertising dollars, but choose them mindfully. Ideally, most of the people who see your ads and contributions to the community will be your target market, and they will see them repeatedly.  And once you’ve built that positive reputation in your community, that’s when good things start to happen.


Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’’>thingass / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s