How to Advertise Now Unsure what to cut and what to keep? This smart, 4-point checklist is your guide to recession-era advertising.

By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When money's tight, the knee-jerk reaction for many entrepreneurs is to cut back on advertising. Unfortunately, the businesses that stop advertising simply drop out of sight, taking these entrepreneurs from slow sales to no sales--fast. It's a risky move many may not recover from. Rather than eliminate your advertising in a recession, cut the fat from your campaign, and focus on the right media choices for the highest ROI.

To figure out what to cut and what to keep, use this checklist to choose the right media for your business in this challenging economy.

  1. Advertise where prospects look first.
    Where will your customers look when they've decided to buy what you sell? A vast majority of Americans research purchases on the internet before buying online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Placing advertising on search engines may be an important part of your scaled down campaign. Other search media include trade and industrial directories, both online and in print, newspaper circulars, classified ads, and shopper sections of specialty magazines. By advertising where prospective customers look, you'll shorten your sales cycle and lower your cost per sale.
  2. Use media that touch prospects often.
    Even when your customers aren't in search mode, they still interact with other important media. Discover which media touch your best prospects throughout the day. Do they read a particular newspaper? Which TV and radio programs do they enjoy and at what times of the day? If you're targeting B2B prospects, zero in on the industry publications they rely on for information. Both business and consumer prospects have favorite websites they frequent. Armed with this vital information, you can strategically place ads in media you know play central roles in their daily lives.
  3. Put your ads in context.
    Not all media that touch your prospects will be smart advertising choices. The issue of appropriate context is critical when making this evaluation. Choose media that reach your prospects when they're in the right frame of mind to be receptive to your message. For example, your best prospects may dine out frequently and be exposed to the ads inside the restroom stalls of popular restaurants. But the location of this media may be an inappropriate context for advertising your type of business. It all depends on when and how you want your customers to think of your business. Pare down your campaign to the media that put your message in the right context, and your response rates will climb.
  4. Advertise for maximum memorability.
    The very best use of limited advertising dollars is to spend your money where your campaign can be a standout. That requires sufficient ad size and frequency. With the abundance of clutter in all major media, it can be challenging to stand out with small-size, fractional-page ads. Larger ads will give you more bang for your buck because they're more likely to be seen and remembered. Rather than run small-space ads in many publications or websites, reduce your media choices to those in which you can afford to buy larger ads and advertise frequently. Narrow your broadcast selections to fewer radio stations or TV programs, and advertise to your core audience with frequency so your message is sure to penetrate. By the time the marketplace rebounds, you'll be in a solid position to expand your campaign once again.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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