Should I Include Traditional Media In My Advertising Mix?

Guest Post

Everyone knows the story – brands born, raised and killing it on digital media. Instashops, Facebook mega communities, search result domination – twenty years in and digital marketing is still the shiny new toy that makes promises of cheap lead generation and startling ROI.   So why would you look to traditional media like print, outdoor, TV and radio? Is old school advertising done and dusted or is there simply a cultural cringe preventing brands from buying media? There are a few pivotal moments in your marketing where a return to traditional media can make or break your brand. So when do you look to the airwaves and glossy pages to invest in marketing growth?

Traditional Media in 2019

Nobody reads magazines or listens to radio anymore, right? I mean, who doesn’t have a Spotify account? Who doesn’t read blogs? Who doesn’t spend their commute listening to podcasts? Actually 16 million Australians listen to radio each week. Radio and online combined campaigns deliver an average ROI of 20% and the radio market share has remained pretty steady for years. The data says that it’s simply NOT disappearing. What’s dropping is the price of radio. And print. Even TV. The love affair with digital marketing and advertising means that traditional media agencies are fighting harder for your marketing spend. This means cheaper placements and more incentives to book a campaign.

Pivotal moments where ad buys can fast track growth

Ad buys are expensive. Even if they’re getting cheaper, they’re still going to eat up your budget. So doing it right is vital. The right message, on the right medium, at the right time. Using a media buyer and planner  will help you get better ROI from your spend (and won’t cost more than going direct to multiple media reps with budgets to meet).

Launching a disruptive product to market

The wonder product or service that will change everything – the one nobody knows that they need just yet. They don’t know it exists so they don’t know to Google it. They don’t know to follow you on socials. They need education.

Media that works: Radio live reads, infomercials, editorial. These are like “influencer” campaigns on digital media – where the specific and unique benefits of your product are explored by a trusted face or voice. These deliver more information than a straight up “ad” so you can get to the nitty gritty of why your product is going to change lives.

Time to grow beyond the Facebook crowd

So you’re ready to put your product into stores. You’ve started talking to distributors and major retailers. They want to know that you’re not small fry. They want to see that there is a market for your product and you won’t just be taking up valuable shop space. They’ll want to know about your digital following and your sales history sure, but they’ll also likely ask for an advertising plan from you. They want to know that you’re committed to growing your market beyond your followers (who already drank your Koolaid). They’ll also want to know that your IP is secured – and traditional media campaigns can assist with getting your trademark approved.

Media that works: Call to action campaigns (short sharp intensive campaigns) with ads focused around awareness-raising of the product. Why it’s amazing and where you can get it now, today, right now. These should be paired with a longer term branding strategy to keep growing brand awareness over time and reminding new customers why you should be a trusted part of their weekly shop.

Time to OWN your niche

So you’ve built a wonderful niche business on digital media. It’s growing so fast that competitors have started to move into the market, aggressively. This is your niche. If you don’t OWN it now, you may lose it. Your brand needs to be the first one buyers associate with the industry.

Media that works: Cut-through campaigns. Amazing creative that gets stuck in people’s heads and makes you not only memorable but the only name that comes to mind when they think about that product.

When you depend on right place, right time

Got a restaurant? An event? Selling something that’s most notable out on the street? Something that they’re thinking about while sitting in a doctor’s surgery? Timing and placement is everything. Whether it’s a radio campaign about your fab New Year’s Eve event or a billboard with a bit of food porn across from your restaurant, traditional media can grab them when they’re READY to make a purchase.

Media that works: Building an ad campaign around right place, right time usually means outdoor campaigns (billboards, buses etc.) or well-timed print and broadcast activities. Again, placement is vital with this campaign and it can help you build your empire in a very, very short time because it’s advertising that targets buyers ready to spend RIGHT NOW.

When your audience isn’t digitally responsive

Perhaps your market is older and hasn’t yet jumped on board with social media? Try doing a remarketing campaign to a senior and see the backlash as your ‘ad follows them’ and they don’t know why – lordy! Is your audience in a specific region where you’d get far better coverage by advertising locally? Perhaps your audience loves social but has a wall of resistance to ads in their feed (oh, the backlash that happened when Instagram introduced sponsored posts!). Perhaps your potential audience simply isn’t engaged enough with social to see you in their feeds. Maybe it’s just time to enter a new market and you don’t want to dilute your social or website messaging?

Media that works: THE RIGHT MEDIA. This is all about placement. If your audience hates digital ads, you might turn to niche or community radio sponsorship. If you’re selling to rural Queensland, a local journalist or TV ad will cut through far better than a massive national powerhouse Facebook page. Need to reach the Baby Boomers? They still love a bit of talk back radio or some good ol’ classic hits. When you’re niching your campaign, the medium matters as much as the message.

When things go bad

All PR is good PR right? Nope. If your brand, or your industry as a whole, has taken a beating in the media and you can see it’s taking a toll on profits, it’s time to change the story. If your industry has been called into question, it’s time to differentiate yourself as the “industry good guy.”

Media that works: If your brand has taken a public beating, consider doing something outlandish, powerful, cut-through. You don’t have to train a gorilla to play Phil Collins hits on the drums…. But you do have to go so far out there that the conversation becomes about your creative, not your scandal.

Public Relations Vs Direct Media Vs Advertising Agency

Pros and cons of PR activity

There are pros and cons to every option for getting media coverage. The go-to for growing businesses is usually public relations. You hire a PR professional to shop your message around. If they’re successful, you get great coverage for a moderate investment. The content that goes out is often part of a bigger story so it gets read without any psychological “ad barriers.” On the downside, publicists are expensive. If you don’t have a “sellable message,” they can gain you very little for your investment. They have no control over your messaging (the journalist decides what they want to say, not you or the publicist) and you can only hope that your target media picks you up.

Pros and cons of buying media directly from the outlet

Direct media reps are hungry for sales and will likely treat you like their new best friend. This means you’ll enjoy the experience of talking with multiple reps from multiple media outlets. Direct reps will also set no minimum budget. If your ad spend is very small, you can still buy media via a direct rep whereas some agencies will give you a minimum spend. On the downside, it means you’ll pay top dollar for ads (unless you’re a negotiation maestro). You’ll likely get contradicting advice from all the different reps as they compete for your budget. You’ll receive a lot of data that must be interpreted before you can make a choice. Once you do choose, your advertising creative will be created ‘in house.’ That means that you’re working with a copywriter, graphic designer, video producer and voice talents that you have no control over. One weak link can ruin the whole campaign. Direct is an inefficient way to book media generally.

Pros and cons of buying media through an agency

Agencies help you to create the best possible campaign for your budget. They have professional creatives, strategists and buyers on their staff so you will benefit from the very best options at every stage – with the result being a campaign that is most likely to achieve optimum return on your investment. A full service agency will make sure that your creative is SPOT ON, not just for the potential customer but for the media outlet.   Accredited agencies (reputable agencies that have an “account” with all the major media outlets) also qualify for better rates on ad buys so even with their service fee on top, you’ll likely pay less than direct – or at least, you’ll pay no more but likely get better ROI. For brands making the first leap into advertising, it’s best to go with a mid-sized agency where every new client gets the eyeballs and expertise of the lead strategist and the lead creatives. The media costs are comparable to big agencies but the minimum spend is moderate (or there may be no set minimum if they believe in the potential of your brand) and they give you their A-team rather than the office juniors.

On the ad agency down side, there are different kinds of media buyers, media clearing houses and full service ad agencies around and choosing the right agency and level of service can be confusing. Larger ad agencies will require a minimum spend before they take you on as a client and that spend is generally eye-wateringly large. If you scrape together the minimum spend, you are still the very smallest fish in a very big pond so you’ll likely get the junior creative, the junior buyer and the junior account manager. There’s no point in joining the big leagues if you’re not going to get the big benefits.

If traditional media no longer worked, the big brands wouldn’t be pouring money into it every single day. They’re loving that digital is a shiny new toy that is forcing their ad prices down. They are buying up cheap ads and getting even better ROI from them. As a growing brand, you can dip your toes into traditional media without risking everything – but with all advertising and marketing, it’s about the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.

About the Author: Kelly Thomas is Lead Strategist at ADFX Advertising Agency and has two decades experience growing brands though ad campaigns carefully crafted for maximum ROI, rather than maximum spend.

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