NORTH CANTON, OHIO—The United States is the largest advertising market in the world, with 2020 ad spending amounting to nearly $243 billion. Internet ad spending now accounts for more than half of all media spending, while other media such as television, newspaper, outdoor, radio and magazines account for the rest. That’s a lot of Google ads, and a lot of media choices for advertisers.
The takeaway for savvy marketers in 2021: Be certain every promotional dollar grows their customer base.
A few decades ago, media choices could be counted on two hands. Those choices still exist, but now there are scores of new advertising options, thanks to the Internet. So, what to do with so many choices? In my opinion, as someone who has been in the ad agency business nearly 40 years (and hopefully learned a thing or two), here are the top three marketing tools for these challenging times.
1—Research. In an economic downturn, research budgets are often the first to go, though vital to customer satisfaction and growth. Survey your customers to determine how well your company is performing; your strengths and weaknesses; customer input regarding phone, personal and written communications; the attitudes and professional performance of your support staff; how can you boost your image, service and quality. Customers with a problem will relate this to 10 other persons. Use this research to improve future communications.
2—Media. With dozens of choices, basic principles apply to all. Newspapers, magazines, cable/broadcast TV, radio, outdoor, direct mail, public relations and online strategies are proven business builders, but continually assess each regarding their efficiency in reaching target audiences. Repeat ads to maximize efficiency through their cumulative power. Consider a mobile website, PR, blogging, Google AdWords and one or more of the social-media websites. All are extremely cost-effective and reinforce an image of your company as progressive. Your website is the hub of your marketing program, so promote your website address via every means possible.
3—Creative. This is the most important of the three because it is the bottom line of effectiveness. A bad ad is a total waste of your marketing dollar. A good ad is unique, interesting, to-the-point, tightly written, consistent and, most of all, spells out benefits to the readers or listeners. It focuses on your market position and what makes your product or service different from the competition. Good creative backed by solid research and market planning will make your ads rise above the din and increase your company’s sales, brand identity and market share.