Stretch your ad budget by marketing more effectively

10 Ways to Stretch Your Ad Budget


No matter how big (or small) your ad budget is, you probably struggle with making the most of your marketing dollars. While outspending your competition is ideal, not every business has the resources to match competitors’ budgets.

What can you do to stretch your marketing dollars? The marketing experts at LNP Media Group have put together some strategies to maximize your advertising impact.

1. NARROW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

No matter what you say, how you say it, or how often you repeat it, if you’re talking to the wrong people, you’re wasting your time. A good place to start is by spending some time researching your market. To maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing plan, create a narrowly-defined profile of your ideal customers.

Think about things like:

  • What age are they?
  • Do they own a home?
  • Where do they live?
  • What special behaviors define them? Do they shop a lot? Watch movies? Mow lawns? Save money?
  • What special needs unite them? Do they hate to waste time? Want great customer service? Are they picky eaters? Environmentally concerned?

While it may be hard to eliminate occasional business in favor of your “best” prospect, a narrowly defined target market is essential for efficient marketing and media decisions. Try not to think of keeping a targeted profile as excluding anyone, but rather keeping your messaging focused on the people who will make the most impact. Once you reach your best target audience, “all the others” will find you as they enter the market.

2. HONE YOUR MESSAGE

It’s easy for companies to get caught up in talking about what they do, sell, offer, or provide. Many marketers want to impress prospects with talk of awesome features or a long list of services. If you want to get customers to pay attention, however you must stop telling them about your business and focus on helping your prospects.  

How does your product or service make life better? Safer? Healthier? More convenient? Will I save time? Will you cheer me up?

Promote the benefits of your products and services

When talking to businesses, start by explaining how you can help them find leads, close sales, reduces operating expenses, save time or avoid unpleasant situations.

The most effective messages focus on the benefits you provide, but they are explained from the customer’s point of view.

Not sure if you’re featuring the right benefits? Give them the “So what?” test. For every business “benefit” you come up with, ask yourself, “So what? Why does this benefit matter to them?” Keep asking the question until you’re able to create messages that start with “You get…” instead of “We offer.”

3. CREATE A COMPELLING OFFER

Customers are inundated with advertisements. One way to get more attention and to drive immediate action is to include a limited-time offer in your ads, such as a seasonal product, weekly sale, coupon, a discount code or free gift.

Any time you include a promotion or limited-time offer in your ads, you should also clearly note that the supply is limited or include an end date (Offer ends on Saturday!) There’s a reason why the terms “act now” and “while supplies last” have been over-used. Time and time again, marketing proves that this kind of perceived exclusivity raises the value of the product and motivates the prospect to act. 

Creating new, limited-time offers is also a way to bring in new customers. For years, fast food restaurants have been relying on seasonal and limited-time menu items to draw in a broader audience.

The auto industry relies on limited-time offers like 0% APR or discounts on trade-ins. Famously, JCPenney learned, the hard way, that everyday low prices don’t attract customers as well as big, flashy sales.

You can also use offers to drive business during slow periods. For example, if Tuesdays are your slow day, offer 20% off on Tuesdays. If you want to sell more bagels, include a buy-one-get-one coupon for bagels in your ad. Want to launch a manicure service in your salon? Promote the launch with a half off offer for the first 40 appointments.

4. MAKE AN IMPACT WITH AD FLIGHTS

The way you schedule your media can help you increase your impact among your best prospects.  An ad flight is grouping ad placements over a short period of time, alternating with periods without advertising. Flights can work weekly, monthly or seasonally.

For example, a restaurant might make a big splash by choosing to advertise heavily for two weeks, and then go dormant for two weeks. A garden center might spend the majority of their budget in the spring, halting ads when the peak planting period ends.

Buying ads in flights may even enable you to match or exceed competitors’ ads for short periods.

The other advantage of flighted bursts is that you may be able to get preferential pricing.

5. SUPER SIZE IT

Next, just as running ads in flights may create more impact, running fewer ads at larger sizes is another way to increase your psychological impact. For starters, bigger units are more noticeable. They stand out from the ad clutter. Larger placements also allow you to include more benefits. And while frequency helps build awareness, it is important to ensure that each ad has impact and stopping power.

Not sure if your business will get more impact from lots of smaller ads or fewer larger ads? Do a test. Run a series of smaller ads, and then a series of larger ads.  Include a small offer in both, measure results and see which strategy garners the most attention for your business.

6. MAKE THE MOST OF MOMENTS

Today, many of your best sales prospects have mobile phones they use to find products, stores, restaurants and more, and you can reach them as they perform these searches. Google calls this Marketing in the Moment and recommends using paid search advertising to reach customers who have one of these needs:

  • “I want to know”: They are searching for information – like how to solve some problem
  • “I want to go”: They need directions and may be doing a “near me” search
  • “I want to do”: “How do I fix my dryer?”
  • “I want to buy”: They’re seeking a product and they’re ready to buy

Many of these searches create marketing opportunities for your business; advertising on search engines enables you to capitalize. The key is to ensure that your advertising targets the right search terms and provides a highly relevant offer. For the customer seeking to fix their dryer, they may want help and parts. Can you provide that? If so, you may win a new customer. For the customer searching “lunch near me,” telling them about your specials may pull them through your door.

Another key to “marketing in the moment” is to ensure that your place of business appears on search engines for local searches. So when a hungry customer enters “restaurants Lancaster” on Google, you want to be on the list. To make this happen, you need to add your names and address into local directory listings like YellowPages, Manta, Mapquest, Yelp and others.

7. REPEAT YOURSELF

No matter what medium you choose for your marketing, repetition is key to success. While studies vary widely on the most effective level of repetition, most marketers agree that it’s wise to try for six to nine impressions. That means you want your prospects to see your message at least six times.

In print, frequency is pretty straightforward, but in digital marketing you have a variety of tools to help you reach your desired frequency. One of the most powerful is retargeting. You may have noticed that you sometimes see the same ads as you move around the web. If that car site you visited keeps appearing on other websites you visit, it’s no coincidence. It’s possible to track website activity and send ads to visitors long after they’ve left your site. This type of repetition is called retargeting, and it builds brand awareness with your best prospects — people who have already visited your website. As with print, keep repetition between six and nine exposures to maintain high interest levels and impact.

8. COMBINE MEDIA TO GET BETTER REACH AND FREQUENCY

Your customers are interacting with a variety of online and offline media, so your advertising plan should be built around intercepting them in a variety of places. For example, newspaper advertising can reach consumers with larger ads in a highly engaged environment. A consistent schedule of newspaper advertising creates a familiarity that leads to awareness and trust of your brand.

Adding a digital advertising component to your plan can increase both the reach (number of people who see your advertising) and frequency (how often the same people see your ads). But understand that the way people interact with digital ads is different than the way they do with print. In digital, the ads are smaller and the attention span is shorter. Choose LancasterOnline as a supplement to your print advertising campaign or run ads on Facebook or Google. That way, sales prospects see your brand with their morning coffee, when they check the weather online over lunch and when they search online. The result will be an increase in brand awareness that may result in sales leads and store traffic.

9. BECOME A SOCIAL MARKETER

Social media platforms offer targeted, engaged online audiences. It’s a new type of media for most businesses, but if used wisely, it can become one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.

At first glance, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram seem like free tools that businesses can use to directly engage with their audiences. Like any other type of marketing, however, effective social media marketing takes time, skill and some financial commitment.

Social media users determine what they see and which unpaid messages come to them. While communicating with friends is fun and easy, most of these social media platforms also make it very difficult for businesses to bubble up on newsfeeds without a paid component.

That doesn’t mean that social media needs to be pricey. Our marketing experts recommend a mix of organic (unpaid) content combined with paid messages to targeted audiences. Since social media platforms regularly change rules, formats and advertising options, it’s also important to keep up to date on the changes.

10. NEVER STOP TESTING

No matter how much you strategize and estimate, there’s only one sure way to know how well your marketing is working: test it.

Testing one idea or approach against another will help you understand how each decision affects your businesses’ success. Try a limited number of advertising initiatives on two or three platforms, and keep careful track of which ads and offers generate the best results for your business.

Most marketers know they need to include offers or coupons to track advertising impact and these same tools are one of the most effective ways to test digital marketing. Don’t rely on reports limited to clicks and impressions; you need to determine if digital ads drove prospects to action.

Finally, be patient. Testing just one campaign on a particular platform isn’t enough to provide accurate insight into whether a given tactic is working. Instead, experiment with ads over different time periods, targeting slightly different audiences.

Once you’ve got enough data to start making decisions, you’ll become more confident about what works and what doesn’t drive business. Monitoring relevant metrics across your ads is one of the most effective ways to make the kind of smart decisions that increase impact and create efficiencies.

* * * *

None of these strategies for marketing in the moment require large ad budgets, they just require smart planning. LNP Multi-Media reps can help make sure that you’re meeting your customer’s moment by moment needs. Contact us and let’s talk about the best times and places for you to place your information and advertising.