From the October 2006 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Maximizing Your Media

How to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

If I leave my house in Connecticut and keep heading north and east, I’ll eventually get to Massachusetts.  But if I want to get to Boston in three hours, I better look at a map before I leave.

So it is with media planning.  Developing a plan with a high likelihood of reaching your goals takes some extra time, but it’s a lot more efficient in the long run.

Here are some suggestions on getting the most from your media plan.

Review Past ResultsIf you track your results, you have a wealth of information to help you chart your course.  Avoid common mistakes like these:

1)  Making decisions based on gut instinct instead of actual results.  Very often gut instincts mislead us.

2)  Relying on insufficient data.  You need at least 50 responses for results to be statistically significant.

3)  Not isolating variables.  For instance, if you change ads, offers and headlines without a “control,” how do you know which elements helped?

Study the CompetitionYour competition can give you a lot of help.  Note where they advertise, how often, and with what offers.  If they’re tracking results, pay close attention to what they repeat because they’ve already figured out what works.

Identify Your CustomerMore than once, I’ve had clients tell me their customers are mostly female…but a review of their list showed them to be predominantly male. The implications for media planning are significant.

Quantify as much as of your customer profile as you can, such as percent male/female, median age, and geographical distribution.  Bear their interests in mind, too.  Are they do-it-yourselfers?  Interested in outdoor décor? 

Consider Types of MediaDecide which media type is best for you.  Direct mail and inserts provide enough space to make a direct sale.  Most other media requires a two-step lead-generating approach.

Often geography plays an important role.  Perhaps you’re selling container gardens to city dwellers, or maybe your plants will only grow in northern zones.  Geographical factors like these have implications for your media selections.

Establish Your BudgetTo establish your budget, work backwards from your sales goal.

For instance, if you know you need to sell 50,000 plants next year and advertising usually costs you $3 per plant sold, that suggests an advertising budget of $150,000.

Develop Your PlanOnce you’ve laid the groundwork, how do you develop the best possible plan?

First, compile information on specific media choices within your strongest media types.  Make a spreadsheet with all the important data -- such as timing, cost, demographics, and geographic distribution -- for each possibility.

Divide the choices by category.  For instance, lists of tool buyers, plant buyers and magazine subscribers will all perform differently from one another.

Decide which categories to concentrate on and select the strongest possibilities in each, based on how well they match your customer profile and the cost per thousand prospects reached.

Negotiate RatesBefore finalizing your plan, negotiate the best deal you possibly can.  Patience, persistence and strategy are key.  For tips on negotiating media savings, see our earlier article Mega Media Savings: How We Bought $97,413 or Media for $14,966.


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Helpful Articles

For helpful how-to articles from past issues of Let’s Grow, our newsletter of marketing insights for the garden industry, click on the links below.