With each passing month, marketing decisions become ever more complicated. The list of traditional opportunities is long enough by itself: magazines, catalogs, direct mail, email, Google adWords, card decks, inserts, TV, radio. Add to that more recent entries — product listing ads, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram, Google Plus, and more — and it can be hard to know where to start. Here are 5 critical questions to help you sort out the choices:
1. Will you reach the right audience? The very first step is determining exactly who you want to reach. Do you sell to businesses, consumers, or both? In a specific geographic area, nationwide, or worldwide? What’s the average age of your buyer? Are they male or female? What’s their level of product knowledge or gardening ability? If you don’t already have a profile of your best buyers, consider doing a survey or series of surveys to find out.
Once you have a crystal clear picture of your ideal buyer, assess how well different media reach them. Most advertising reps can provide a wealth of demographic and geographic data to help you determine how well their media target your particular audience.
2. Is the audience in shopping mode? Certain types of media are more conducive to shopping than others. For instance, online searches are frequently the starting point for shopping behavior. People looking through a catalog are generally in “shopping mode.” Pinterest users usually are looking for products that will solve problems or enrich their lives.
Other media may offer superior targeting capabilities, but the people they reach may not be in shopping mode. For example, you may be able to pinpoint your market with great accuracy on Facebook, but most Facebook users are catching up with friends, rather than shopping.
3. Are they shopping for what you’re selling? When a medium reaches the right audience, and the audience is in shopping mode, look a little closer. What types of products are advertised there? Is your product line a natural fit? If your competitors advertise there regularly, that’s likely to be a good sign. The best match for your marketing budget is the “go-to” place for information on products like yours.
4. Do the economics work? Even if you reach exactly the right audience, and they’re looking for exactly what you sell, otherwise ideal media won’t work if you pay too much. Before advertising anywhere, always determine how much product you need to sell to break even on your media cost. Then investigate to see if your ROI expectations are reasonable.
Sellers of low priced products often encounter this challenge. Otherwise perfect media must be eliminated from consideration when narrow profit margins make it unfeasible. The number of sales required to break even on many low margin products eliminates higher priced choices, like direct mail.
5. What’s required for an adequate test? When trying any new media, you want to test enough that you can reach a definitive conclusion — without testing so much that you risk making an expensive mistake if it doesn’t work. It generally takes about 100 responses to get a statistically valid reading on any given test segment. If the cost of reaching that benchmark is prohibitively high, it’s best to investigate other options first.
Whether you’re sizing up traditional media or new options, the decision making process is the same. Thoroughly investigate these five questions, and you’re well on your way to formulating a sound plan that makes the best use of your advertising budget.