March 24, 2013

Three Ways to Save Money on Advertising

Ask For More, Look Behind You, and Follow the Money

By Ed Avis

I have been in some form of the advertising business, both as an ad salesman and as a buyer, for 20 years. Here are three basic money-saving ideas I’ve learned from both sides of the desk:

1) Ask for more. In the old days, when you decided on the size and frequency of your ads, you were done. These days you shouldn’t stop there – make sure you ask your ad sales rep to provide a package that includes online benefits, too (or, if you’re buying mostly online ads, ask for print, too). Usually combo packages cost hardly any more than either a digital or print ad alone. Having both benefits you two ways: First, you’ll be reaching part of the publication’s audience that prefers one form of interaction over the other. Second, since many people read print AND go online, you’ll be hitting some of the audience TWICE for essentially the same advertising money. And don’t get me started on the value of frequency…

2) Frequency discounts can be retroactive. You already know that every publisher offers discounts when you buy more than one ad at a time, but keep in mind that most publishers will retroactively provide frequency discounts. That means if you’ve been paying the 1x rate and get to three ads, ask the publisher to apply the 3x rate to your third ad AND subtract the difference from the 1x and 3x on the first two ads. For example, if the 1x rate of an ad is $4,000, and the 3x rate is $3,000, when you get to the third ad ask the publisher to give you the $3,000 rate for that third ad minus $1,000 for each of the previous two ads you ran. That way your third ad will only cost $1,000. Some publishers might refuse to do this, but it can’t hurt to ask.

3) Track the money. Figuring out where your sales leads come from is one of the trickiest parts of advertising. Even giant companies don’t do this well, because sometimes even buyers don’t remember how they heard about your company! But you should try, and here are three tips: 1) Ask every customer you can how they heard about your company, and keep doing this, even with established customers (some advertising is designed to keep marketshare, not just grow it); 2) With online advertising, see if you’re getting direct response. Ask the publisher about “click throughs” and use Google analytics to track traffic to your website; and 3) See if your business from a segment is growing. This is a long-term metric, but it’s also the best. If you run six months worth of ads targeting a specific audience and notice that you are suddenly getting more business from that audience, you can assume your money was well spent.

Advertising is an investment in the future of your business, and if you try these tips, your investment should pay off a little better.

Do you have other tips you’d like to share? Please email them to Ed Avis.

March 24, 2013