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Choice Words from Schneider the Writer


No matter how big or how successful it is, one type of promotional effort is not enough for long-term visibility. You may be able to announce a new product or service with one press release or attract a selected group of prospects with one direct mail piece. While these visibility vehicles are cost-effective, they can get lost in the shuffle.

Editors receive hundreds of press releases every month. Unless there is enough advertising in a given publication, the best press release about the best product in the world will remain unprinted for a longer time than it would have a few years ago. Most trade publications adhere to a ratio of 60 percent advertising and 40 percent editorial space to defray the costs of paper, printing and postage.

Customers, who are inundated with direct mail on a daily basis, are less likely to be attracted to unsolicited mailings than they were a decade ago. Unless they are in dire need of what you offer, prospects might consider the best mailer about the best product in the world just another piece of junk mail.

At a time when trade publication advertising is down, direct mail is overwhelming and your budget is limited, what can you do to achieve and maintain visibility? The answer is to develop a sensible media mix.

A sensible media mix consists of a variety of promotional elements. While you need not spend a fortune by using only the most expensive promotional tools, you cannot avoid them completely. More importantly, proper use of one promotional tool can enhance the use of another.

Advertising is expensive. It usually costs more dollars per prospect and offers less words per inch than other forms of promotion. When you add up the production and placement costs and compare them with the leads generated, it may sound like a bad bargain.

On the other hand, consider the benefits of advertising. First, there is the exposure generated by the ad itself. By placing advertising selectively in the appropriate media, you can provide a clear, succinct message about your company. By using the same ad repeatedly in several publications, you can establish your company's identity and market niche while obtaining the best value for the creative, production and placement costs.

Next, consider the relationship between advertising and editorial space. While you cannot guarantee placement of press releases and articles, it is only logical to assume that there will be less editorial space when there is less advertising space. It is also logical to assume that loyal advertisers will receive preferential editorial treatment during recessionary times.

Finally, advertising can increase the value of your direct mail and trade show dollars. Some publications offer a free incentive to advertisers -- a targeted mailing list identifying people likely to attend a trade show, purchase a particular product within the year or engage in a discipline that requires the use of a product. By purchasing an ad, you can obtain the benefit of someone else's market research and aim your mailers at prequalified prospects who ought to be visiting your booth at a trade show.

How do you determine the appropriate media, and how do you determine the best value for your advertising? Start by reading industry publications and scrutinizing their editorial and advertising content. Request a media kit from publications that appear to be appropriate for your company and its products in order to determine the total audience reached and the kinds of people who make up that audience. Get acquainted with media representatives, who will give you the benefit of their expertise in the market.

Usually, you can "test the waters" with a press release or a free listing in a directory issue. If so, you can base your advertising decision on the number and quality of inquiries you receive. Check your media kit to determine when to advertise -- an issue focusing on a certain class of products, an industry or a preview of exhibits at a trade show. For more impact, send the publication a press release for the same issue, and take advantage of free mailing lists and other offers.

Once you have made the commitment to advertise, do it consistently and professionally, in conjunction with other promotional programs. Include professional copywriting, design and photography services in your advertising budget, Take advantage of related promotional opportunities.

Remember that advertising is an important element in building your image. Used wisely, it is critical to your media mix. Used unwisely, it is simply expensive.


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Copyright 1998 Schneider the Writer
Last modified: July 25, 1998

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