Question: Where To Focus Advertising


I have a question about where to focus our advertising. We just signed a year contract with the largest newspaper in Delaware. It is in their weekly supplement that goes out on Thursdays in the newspaper itself and is sent by mail to residents. I receive one myself. We are able to change our ad week to week (with advanced lead time) and which zone our ad is placed at no additional fee. Before signing the contract we contacted 8 various businesses who are already featured in the supplement and all of them were very pleased with the response to their ads.

My question is I have a breakdown of the zip codes we are already drawing business from through the internet and phone books. Would you draw from those areas or focus on virgin territory? We have 48 ads to run (1/8 of a page, color) of which 2 will be full page ads, color.

First thing, a quick sanity check… what kind of businesses were these that were pleased with the response to their ads?  This is important.  If they are not service businesses or ‘health’ businesses, their results may not be meaningful. 

The important question is do your ideal prospects read and BUY from this publication.  Also what do they buy.  Clipping food coupons (Thursdays are generally ‘food days so lots of grocery ads) and signing up for a stop smoking program are very different buying behaviors.  People who buy tires or are clipping coupons to save a dollar on dog food are not necessarily a good market match for hypnosis services.

Message – Market – Media must all match for your business and your prospects.

In the future, I recommend you don’t enter a long term contract unless you know the media has already worked for you.

As for the location question… If it were me, I would first test ads in the areas you are already attracting business.  Then I would take the winning ad(s) and test them in areas with similar demographics PLUS geographic proximity to your business.

I would make each ad a Lead Generation piece with a special offer.

Here are things I would test:

  • Headlines
  • Offers
  • Response Mechanisms (phone vs website)
  • Reporting Problem Niches (do you get better response from weight loss, pain management, sports enhancement, etc.)
  • Zip Codes
  • Location of ad (if they will let you do it, ideally you want to be ‘above the fold’ for best response)

It’s important to test only ONE thing at a time.  Otherwise you don’t know what is causing the changes.

Also, ask if you can run A/B split tests each week. You could find winning ads much faster that way.

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