Maximize Your Ad Campaign Dollars

Advertising isn't cheap, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune to promote your business. Try stretching your ad dollars with these tips:

Target your market
Make sure that you reach your target audience, but don't overbuy. In large metropolitan markets, advertising in daily newspapers and on television can be costly, and you may end up paying for a much larger audience than your business serves. Find targeted media that focuses on your service area, such as community or neighborhood newspapers.

Look into regional ad buys. Some publications have regional or demographic editions where you can place an ad for a fraction of the cost of advertising in the regular edition. And cable TV stations offer local advertising that is broadcast only in certain markets.

Check into discount options. Most publications offer an agency discount of 15 percent; if you act as your own advertising agency, you may qualify. You can also get frequency discounts for advertising several times in one publication. Monthly magazines, for example, usually offer 3-, 6- and 12-time rates. Moreover, many publications offer retail rates or special rates for other types of businesses.

Buy remnant space. When you purchase leftover space or airtime that a publication or radio station can't fill, you won't get to pick your spots, but you can save anywhere from 30 to 80 percent.

Consider classified ads. The classifieds aren't merely for job openings, and they're available in magazines as well as newspapers. They're much cheaper than standard display ads, and many publications let you run mini display ads in the classifieds. Classified-ad categories include a broad range of consumer and business products and services.

If an ad works, stick with it. Run it more than once or in more than one publication. Repetition is effective, and you'll save money by keeping the same ads.

Use co-op funds. If you're a retailer, take advantage of co-op advertising funds offered by your vendors. Co-op programs reimburse you a portion of the cost of an ad that mentions the vendor. Most co-op plans have strict rules, so check with your vendors and follow the guidelines.

Try to barter. Find out whether a publication or radio station will let you pay for advertising with goods or services. This may be an option if you're working with a small media company. Sometimes called "trade" ads, these barter deals are often struck with restaurant advertisers, but it is possible to barter with any number of business products or services.

Reuse ads. If you have a good-looking ad, make the most of your investment in the creative work. Reprint the ad for use as a circular, handout, or direct-mail piece.

Whatever medium you choose for your advertising, you'll have to steer clear of the Top 10 Effective Advertising, such as failing to distinguish yourself from your competition.

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