Mid-Missouri Marketing Resource Blog

2 of 12 Causes of Advertising Failure: Big Reach Small Budget

Posted by Stacey Cole on September 28, 2015 at 10:15 AM


Let’s see if this story sounds familiar… a local business owner spent months researching her marketing options. She knew she wanted to be on a few radio stations, she was interested in TV because that’s where all her competitors were, and of course she knew she needed to be online. Her employees insisted they invest in direct mail, and a close friend swore they’d regret it if they didn’t do billboards.

This was a lot for one small business.

When adding these up -- even after scrapping TV and direct mail -- her costs were still exceeding her original marketing budget. She decided to go with it and give it a shot. She figured “go big or go home.” However, she ended up spending way more than she wanted, and with lackluster results in the end.

Why weren’t the results matching the investment level?

This is one of the most common causes of advertising failure small businesses report to us here at Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group. High-spending, low-impact campaigns not only hurt the budget, but also harm long-term ROI. That’s why we encourage two types of strategies: “start small” and “conquer a medium.” Both of these help companies reap the benefits of targeted marketing by deploying frequency best practices to help businesses grow from the bottom up.

Solving the Big Reach Problem with Frequency and Targeting

With so many media platforms competing to be the number one place to advertise, even the most experienced business owners may be tempted to try reaching more people than their budgets will allow. After all, when more people see an advertisement, it logically follows that more people will stop in a store or purchase a service. However, mixed-media only works when each element has enough repetition to become memorable. And to become memorable, you need to understand why frequency is important to your advertising.

Frequency is the number of times a person interacts with an advertisement, whether they see it on television, it pops up while they are browsing the web, or heard it on the way to work. There is the Rule of Seven, a popular belief that a customer should be exposed to advertising at least seven times to become memorable. This has been borne out by hard data: a study by Microsoft puts the exposures between 6 and 20, with a 30% conversion rate.

It would take a substantial budget to reach 100% of a targeted audience at such a frequency rate. Instead, marketers may be better off staying within budget while connecting with only 10% of the audience. This can be accomplished by finding a balance between frequency and reach, which can make a smaller segment of the audience more valuable than the 100% as a whole. This means taking a closer look at your ideal and repeat customers to understand who purchases items already (and for what purpose), as well as who you would ideally like to see come into your store.

This information can be used to help you find the most effective advertising medium or space. A sporting goods store, for example, could advertise on sports talk radio, where a smaller group of young, athletic adults can be exposed. For that specific niche, this strategy is more effective than advertising on a Top 40 station that has far more listeners but too broad of a market.

Once you’ve found your ideal audience, frequency will continue to help build brand awareness in your community or targeting area. Frequency is the reason why Nike’s “Just Do It” has remained its slogan for over 26 years and why we think of Wheaties when we hear “Breakfast of Champions” (used since 1927), according to The Financial Brand. That is why it’s important to get the message across clearly. For example, having an ad on the radio should include a strong storyline as well as conclude with a catchy, easy to remember call-to-action or incentive.

So, How Much Frequency Do I Really Need?

An important point to understand about advertising frequency and how much you need, is that it truly depends on your goals. Are you looking for action and direct response? Or are you focusing more on brand exposure in the marketplace? This is why there is no “one size fits all” with advertising. On one hand, a time-sensitive special event, like a grand opening, might need a much, much higher level of frequency (multiple ads within an hour even) compared to an ongoing branding campaign.

Turning Your Smaller Budget into Marketing Gold

Commonly, we see smaller businesses (with smaller marketing budgets) thinking they need to run during the best times (with the highest reach) in order to get results. While with radio, popular drive times can account for larger listening audiences, this does NOT mean you must focus on these dayparts in order to find success. Sometimes that one commercial you could buy during the busiest, and most expensive day part, could be turned into 3 or 4 commercials in other dayparts that would increase your frequency… and ultimately your results.  

If you are working with a smaller budget, the best route to take is often to focus on one medium, and even one radio station, and dominate it. If you can’t dominate a station, dominate a day of the week. If you can’t dominate a day of the week, dominate a daypart. It’s as easy as that. How many times can you deliver your message to one person with a time period? Then multiply that because no matter what time of day it is, people are listening!

Preventing Advertising Failure Through Conscious Repetition

The business that wants to do too much with too little will hit an advertising wall fast. When budget is a major concern, it is important to understand why you should be more conscious of frequency over poor exposure. Finding the right audience and conveying a message the optimal amount of times will lead to better budget dollars spent, better brand awareness, and better return on your investment.

Learn about all 12 Causes of Advertising Failure by downloading our free eBook here

The 12 Causes of Advertising Failure courtesy of Roy H. Williams , author of The Wizard of Ads & Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.


Topics: Advertising, Marketing Strategy, Business Growth Strategy

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