advertising, in general, any openly sponsored offering of goods, services, or ideas through any medium of public communication. At its inception advertising was merely an announcement; for example, entrepreneurs in ancient Egypt used criers to announce ship and cargo arrivals. The invention of printing, however, may be said to have ushered in modern advertising. After the influence of salesmanship began to insert itself into public notice in the 18th cent., the present elaborate form of advertising began to evolve. The advertising agency, working on a commission basis, has been chiefly responsible for this evolution. The largest group of advertisers are the food marketers, followed by marketers of drugs and cosmetics, soaps, automobiles, tobacco, appliances, and oil products. The major U.S. advertising media include newspapers, magazines, television and radio, business publications, billboards, and circulars sent through the mail. With the advent of the wide availability of electronic mail and access to the World Wide Web in the 1990s, the Internet has also become an important advertising venue. An individual’s interests, opinions, browsing history, and the like can be tracked and used by Internet firms to offer businesses, political organizations, and others the opportunity to target their advertising much more specifically than in the past. Such use has also been criticized as a violation of privacy, and is more restricted in the European Union. Since many large advertising agencies were once located on Madison Avenue in New York City, the term “Madison Avenue” is frequently used to symbolize the advertising business. The major criticisms of advertising are that it creates false values and impels people to buy things they neither need nor want and that, in fact, may be actually harmful (such as cigarettes). In reply, its defenders say that advertising is meant to sell products, not create values; that it can create a new market for products that fill a genuine, though latent, need; and that it furthers product improvement through free competition. The Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, both founded in 1917, are the major associations
A successful advertising campaign will spread the word about your products and services, attract customers and generate sales. Whether you are trying to encourage new customers to buy an existing product or launching a new service, there are many options to choose from.
The most suitable advertising option for your business will depend on your target audience and what is the most cost effective way to reach as many of them as possible, as many times as possible. The advertising option chosen should also reflect the right environment for your product or service. For example, if you know that your target market reads a particular magazine, you should advertise in that publication.
The following list is an introduction to advertising tactics that you could use. Remember, you can always be creative in your advertising to get noticed (within advertising regulations).
Newspaper advertising can promote your business to a wide range of customers. Display advertisements are placed throughout the paper, while classified listings are under subject headings in a specific section.
You may find that a combination of advertising in your state/metropolitan newspaper and your local paper gives you the best results.
Advertising in a specialist magazine can reach your target market quickly and easily. Readers (your potential customers) tend to read magazines at their leisure and keep them for longer, giving your advertisement multiple chances to attract attention. Magazines generally serve consumers (by interest group e.g. women) and trade (industry/business type e.g. hospitality).
If your products need to be displayed in colour then glossy advertisements in a magazine can be ideal – although they are generally more expensive than newspaper advertisements.
Magazines do not usually serve a small area such as a specific town. If your target market is only a small percentage of the circulation, then advertising may not be cost-effective.
Advertising on the radio is a great way to reach your target audience. If your target market listens to a particular station, then regular advertising can attract new customers.
However, sound has its limitations. Listeners can find it difficult to remember what they have heard and sometimes the impact of radio advertising is lost. The best way to overcome this is to repeat your message regularly – which increases your costs significantly. If you cannot afford to play your advertisement regularly, you may find that radio advertising does not generate strong results.
Television has an extensive reach and advertising this way is ideal if you cater to a large market in a large area. Television advertisements have the advantage of sight, sound, movement and colour to persuade a customer to buy from you. They are particularly useful if you need to demonstrate how your product or service works.
Producing a television advertisement and then buying an advertising slot is generally expensive. Advertising is sold in units (e.g. 20, 30, 60 seconds) and costs vary according to:
- the time slot
- the television program
- whether it is metro or regional
- if you want to buy spots on multiple networks.
Directories list businesses by name or category (e.g. Yellow Pages phone directories). Customers who refer to directories have often already made up their mind to buy – they just need to decide who to buy from.
The major advantage of online directories over print directories is that if you change your business name, address or telephone number, you can easily keep it up to date in the directory. You can also add new services or information about your business.
If your target market uses print and online directories, it may be useful to advertise in both, although print directories are being used less.
Outdoor and transit
There are many ways to advertise outside and on-the-go. Outdoor billboards can be signs by the road or hoardings at sport stadiums. Transit advertising can be posters on buses, taxis and bicycles. Large billboards can get your message across with a big impact. If the same customers pass your billboard every day as they travel to work, you are likely to be the first business they think of when they want to buy a product.
Even the largest of billboards usually contain a limited amount of information; otherwise, they can be difficult to read. Including your website address makes it easy for customers to follow up and find out more about your business. Outdoor advertising can be very expensive especially for prime locations and supersite billboards.
Direct mail, catalogues and leaflets
Direct mail means writing to customers directly. The more precise your mailing list or distribution area, the more of your target market you will reach. A direct mail approach is more personal, as you can select your audience and plan the timing to suit your business. A cost effective form of direct mail is to send your newsletters or flyers electronically to an email database. Find out more about direct mail.
Catalogues, brochures and leaflets can also be distributed to your target area. Including a brochure with your direct mail is a great way to give an interested customer more information about your products and services. Learn more about leaflet marketing using letterbox drops and handouts.
Being on the internet can be a cost-effective way to attract new customers. You can reach a global audience at a low cost. Many customers research businesses online before deciding whom to buy from.
A well-designed website can entice customers to buy from you. There are a number of ways you can promote your business online via paid advertising or to improve your search engine rankings. Learn more about doing business online.
Other ways to advertise your business online include promoting your products or services on social media sites, blogs and search engines and other websites that your target audience visits. Find out more about social media.