Become a smarter media buyer

By Mark G. Auerbach

Let’s assume that you have a good marketing plan, and some excellent collateral materials, that you know your market, and you also assume that your media buying is both cost effective and results driven. How do you take things to the next level while taking into account the rapidly shifting media market?

There are three kinds of potential consumers out there. First, the “enthusiast.” Just let them know how and where to buy your product and service, and they’re onboard. Second, the “interested.” They may be interested but require a “push” or incentive to become enthusiastic. And third, the “uninterested,” who won’t respond to anything. Forget about them.  A good media plan concentrates on the enthusiastic and attracts the interested.

If you don’t know your current market, how can you build on it? You should be capturing your consumers basic information (zip code, how they buy, and what media influenced their buying decisions). Choose your media that will reach like-minded people.

A much-altered media landscape

The media landscape has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. Have you kept pace with the changes? There’s a glut of new media opportunities out there, as newspapers cut their print editions, local radio dwindles, and networks become more regional and less local. “Drive time” doesn’t exist anymore per se, as many people work from home, or stream their media on their devices on demand, not the broadcast schedule. And, many people have discovered podcasts, and there are thousands of them vying for attention.

Don’t go for big numbers first. It’s quality, not quantity that counts. Our local daily claims to have several hundred thousand readers, which may be true, but they’re regionally located, and in all age groups, not necessarily the age group and location that best reaches your enthusiasts. Go for the media source that reaches the quality of person you want. We have a couple of hyper-local arts blogs in our area, and for one of my clients, I can reach 500 eager theatre-goers with one small ad, rather than casting my net in the large daily.

Advertising is a partnership. If you advertise (invest in the media source and the ad rep’s commission), what benefits and perks are available to you? If you’re a non-profit, is there a special rate? If you prepay your ad, is there a discount? Is there a frequency rate? Are there any value-added opportunities, i.e. a feature story, a listing in their directory of advertisers, better ad placement? A media outlet wants your business, and they will negotiate. And, if you partner, remember that partnerships are a two-way street.

Track your success

When sales come in, ask where your customer heard of your product. Note how they made a purchase: online, in-person, by phone? Find out where they’re from. Then, you can build and track your own analytics. And be sure to ask that your ad actually ran. If it’s in print, ask for a tear-sheet. If it’s in broadcasting, ask for an affidavit of performance.

And realize that advertising may not have an immediate effect. If you’re monitoring your advertising, and you see, after an extended period, that it’s not effective, switch course.

Media buying isn’t something you can do casually. If you’ve got a major budget, you might consider using the services of a professional media buyer. They make their money on commissions from placing ads, and fees for services. Because they buy for many clients, often in bulk, they may have access to better rates, or better connections, and can demand better placement.

Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn. Mark also produces ArtsBeat in print in The Westfield News, on radio for Pioneer Valley Radio and on TV and radio on WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. He also produces the TV and radio series On The Mark and Athenaeum Spotlight with Guy McLain.

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