Advertising Is An Art, Not A Science

f money were no object, it would be relatively easy to decide which media to use to
market your product or service. But even with a hearty ad budget, it’s a challenge to create
effective advertising that breaks through the clutter of more than 3,000 marketing messages per

Remember that advertising is an art, not a science, and that what works for one product or
service may not work for another. Here are some media to be considered in your marketing mix:

Direct mail can have the highest impact of any medium, but can also be the most expensive in
terms of cost per person reached. You can target a specific group, controlling who receives your
advertising message. A direct mail campaign is only as good as your list. If it’s not going to the
right people, it’s nothing more than junk mail. And seldom does a one-shot mailing have the desired
result, so consider a series of mailings. Direct mail can be a letter, postcard, brochure or flyer;
and is a good way to test ad copy or a promotional offer on a smaller scale before embarking on a
large-scale ad campaign. 


The Internet is electronic direct mail, and a medium flush with tiny niche markets. As with
direct mail, the right list will get you the best results. You can rent opt-in e-mail lists from
major vendors, allowing you to tightly target your message. E-newsletters, e-promotions and
e-coupons all are good ways to promote your product or services and drive traffic to your website.
But make sure your newsletter is educational and not just a sales pitch.

Newspapers typically are the most inexpensive way to reach a mass audience. But you’re
competing with a high number of advertisers and a lot of visual clutter. Therefore, headline copy
is critically important in newspaper advertising because the reader generally scans the pages. Your
desire is to provoke interest with the headline, drawing the reader in to read the copy. You might
also consider spot color in newspaper ads to draw the reader’s eye your way.

Magazines offer a better opportunity to catch the reader’s attention. Readers tend to peruse
magazines more carefully than they do newspapers, and because magazine ads are placed fewer per
page, the competition for the reader’s eye is reduced. Trade publications also give you the
opportunity to reach a targeted audience that has a specific interest in your product or



Billboard and transit advertising are hard to miss, and are appropriate for simple messages.
I call outdoor advertising “The Reinforcer.” If someone drives past your billboard every day for a
month, your message gains strength each time. Billboards also can reinforce more detailed messages
seen in print. But remember the billboard mentality — don’t post an ad with more words than can be
read at 60 miles per hour.

Television is a mass medium that can be very expensive and likely will reach well beyond your
target audience. The cost to produce a television spot also is relatively high. Television is a
great medium for mass merchandisers selling directly to consumers. It makes far less sense for
niche marketers and business-to-business advertisers.

Like television, radio has the ability to touch a large audience, offering a better
opportunity to reach market segments by targeting certain station formats — country, soft rock,
talk and so on. It’s also relatively inexpensive in terms of airtime and production costs. Radio
also can be a good support for your printed advertising.

September/October 2006