You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Timing is Everything ...especially when it comes to buying advertising.

By Kathy J. Kobliski

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: When is the best time for a small business to spend money on advertising?

A: No matter what size your business is, the best time to buy advertising is in the first quarter-always. The next best time is the third quarter. These are the months when most radio and TV stations are hungry and offer low rates and special packages to lure advertisers who may not otherwise bother to advertise (see Negotiating Radio Ratesfor special package information), and that spills over to print media.

Inventory needs to be filled to make budgets, and the buyer is really in the driver's seat. Rates can drop by half in the first quarter, so look at your budget, and hunker down with the reps from your chosen forms of media. Always be willing to politely leave a deal on the table, and don't be discouraged by the word "no." Nine times out of 10, they'll call you back and say OK.

Some possible reasons why you'll get a no:

  • Your rep is under pressure to make his or her own personal budget. That's not your problem.
  • They don't want you to turn into one of those clients who insist on a lower rate every time, knowing it's possible to negotiate.
  • If it's an election year, political commercials receive (by law) the lowest rate that's been given to any client for the previous 12 months. And political campaigns can run as many ads for that low price as they want. So stations have to be careful about what rates they show.

But there's another way-it's called "free spins." Say you have a budget of $1,000 and you want to buy 20 commercials, normally $100 each, for $50 each. On paper, you pay $100 each for the first 10 commercials and get the remaining 10 as "free spins." That lets the rep show a rate of $100 per paid spot on the contract, while you come away having paid $1,000 for your 20 commercials.

More reasons to buy in the first quarter:

  • You can enjoy an additional 5 percent discount if you sign on for 26 consecutive weeks and 10 percent if you sign on for 52 consecutive weeks. You don't have to run the same number of commercials each week to qualify-just something each week.
  • Buy "remnant advertising" and agree to purchase "up to" a certain number of commercials, or space, each week or month. For example, if a radio or TV station has unsold inventory in time slots that would benefit you, they can pop your commercial in at the last minute for a fraction of the normal spot cost. Once inventory is gone, it's gone, and they'd rather sell it at a lowball price than get nothing at all for it. Just be sure to specify the top dollar amount you're willing to spend per week or month and the time slots you'll accept in the contract.

It's the first what are you waiting for? Higher rates?

Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her book,Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy via her website at

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business Solutions

Save an Extra 20% on the Ultimate Microsoft Bundle Featuring Windows 11 Pro, Office, and More

Pick up this package of popular Microsoft products for only a fraction of the price through April 16.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business Solutions

Visualize Data for Better Business: MS Visio is $23.99 Through April 16

Set your team up for success with a reliable tool for creating organizational charts, diagrams, and more.

Business Solutions

Scan Easier and More Affordably with This 20% Discount

iScanner is a mobile app that makes document management, editing, and sharing easier.