Using and Buying Media Wisely

This seems like a good time, before we get fully into planning season, to talk about the best uses of media. I touched on this briefly in my recent post the Intersection of Planning and Improvisation. But this is really a topic that deserves a full post before annual plans are laid for 2011.

The first thing you have to remember as you’re considering is that you – yourself – are a microcosm of the way the world at large interacts with media. You’re certainly not the perfect prototype, but don’t discount your experience and the way you interact with media. That’s a critical smell-test for whatever media you’re considering.

I always start with television because it’s the most expensive. The first thing to consider is if you have a good television commercial in the bag that enhances your brand position and is still relevant. If so, then it’s worthwhile to consider buying television for branding purposes. Specifically, local news/sporting events.  Think about it – what do you watch live, news and sporting events right? That’s where you need to place your buys. Cable also provides a fairly cost effect reach but understand in the age of DVR and TIVO — not many people are watching commercials. So buy wisely! Be aware of when the first run shows are running and when re-runs have it (ie don’t buy in the summer). It’s also usually not worth the expense to buy in the political season – just say no to those time periods.

Billboards and buses are usually my next stop. These are ideally suited to summer months. Think about it, people are outside, traveling, driving around more in the summer than they are in winter months. That means summer is an ideal time to buy bill boards.  Buses are also good to buy in summer. Personally, I prefer bus butts rather than sides. More people spend more time looking at the back of a bus than they do the side, so invest wisely and buy the bus butt. Because of the medium, outdoor is best suited to branding messaging, in a few words with great imagery.

From there, I usually move on to radio. Just like billboards and buses, people up their listening of radio in the summer time. Outside, working in the yard, driving to the coast, hanging out at the picnic you name it – radio tends to be the backdrop to our summer moments. As such, you will want to move your radio buys to be heaviest in summer months. Now it’s true, iPods and other portable music is cutting into this market, but for the cost – radio still has tremendous reach. In my opinion, other highly underrated radio day-parts are weekends. Same rules apply – radio provides the backdrop and the good news is that weekend day-parts are CHEAP! Everyone wants the M-F drive time, and it’s worth paying for, but weekends are a great investment. I think, M-F 10a-3p are pretty worthless — true, your radio reps will quote you all the at-work listenership numbers, but when was the last time you actually paid attention to the commercials playing on the radio when you were at work? Not often – so skip that on the buy. Radio is well suited for both branding and promotional messaging.

Print advertising should be used sparingly and just for promotional advertising. Not many people read print anymore and they tend to be the older demographic when they do.

Online – this is great for branding and promotional, more people are spending more time on line, so get a Google Adwords account and a Facebook Ads account and have at it — it’s cheap and reasonably effective. We’ll cover the details of online more in a future post.

Social Media – don’t underestimate the power of social media, it’s critical for branding, promotional, and authenticity. Spend money in this category! It’s cheap, and it will have a long term effect on your business’ success. I outlined 5 Reasons You Should be in Social Media recently here.

So that’s it – a primer on buying media for strategic marketing planning. Plan well!