Drew Powell

Drew Powell

It is a well-known fact that mom and pop shops are the heart and soul of local economies’ well-beings. These shops are owned and operated by our families, neighbors and friends, and simply seeing their success is a sure way of bringing a smile to our own faces.

The way these shops gain their success is almost never the same method that neighboring shops use and is mostly a mix of trial and error and advice from fellow business owners. But a main factor to a business creating success is making sure that their business’s name and mission is out to the public.

Now how can a business make sure that their name and mission is well known to the community that they are a part of? Advertising.

Advertising can feel like a chaotic mess that is full of different options with different price points. When there are methods such as television, print, billboards, social media, online targeting, radio, direct mailers, and so many more, choosing the path to target a businesses audience is overwhelming; and then there are the advertising representatives that will negotiate that their platforms are superior to those of competing advertising representatives. There is no denying that advertising can be tumultuous.

I understand that business owners that are reading this are going to find my opinions biased, as my main source of income is as a print advertising representative for a local media company, and I also had previous employment at another local media company. To be completely honest, I absolutely enjoy being an advertising representative; I am a social person, and being able to interact and connect with local business owners is a huge part of the job. But the real enjoyment is talking about advertising with these business owners, coming up with a plan, executing it and then following up to hear if it was a success or a flop.

Just like finding the right pieces for a business to succeed, finding the right advertising avenues can be a process of trial and error. I have had a business owner bluntly tell me that a publication I presented and she bought an ad into had absolutely no return for her. That feedback was exactly what I needed to hear because if I were to present it to her again, I know that there would be hesitation on her end of the conversation, and the answer would more than likely be a “no” for next time. But it also gave me a better idea of what would be better for her demographic and target audience.

Despite some failures from advertising, there have also been some great success stories, and not much can beat hearing something along the lines of “That ad drove traffic like I was not expecting!”

To say that one ad is all that is needed for a business to see success is a lie. There are those instances where a single ad does draw enough attention to see a positive difference for a business owner, but those are so few and far between that it should never be taken seriously. Humans need to be coaxed before acting on an ad that they see.

Because potential customers typically do not act after seeing an ad one time, businesses need to find the sweet spot to get their audience to act without pestering. That requires frequency.

When I first started in media sales, I was taught that an ad needs to be seen three times by the target audience to get results. I am not saying that by having only three ads out to the public, the job is done, just that one person from a business's target audience needs to see an ad three times. Thus, that business is going to need to narrow down their target audience to find the best media platform for that audience.

When using the three frequency rule, that target audience needs to have somewhat of a need for what your business offers before ever seeing an ad. The first time that the ad is seen, there is going to be more thought about that need; the second time the ad is seen is when research is going to start; and the third time that ad is seen is when that target audience is going to act on that need.

Now that a business understands that humans are slow to visit a business for their needs, how does that business choose what media platform to use?

I can not stress this enough: A business needs to use the media platform, or platforms, that their target audience uses the most. A business owner that does not read the local newspaper or watch the local news should not ignore those platforms if they are prime avenues to reach their target audience. By ignoring those platforms, businesses are not allowing parts of their target audience to know who they are and what they can offer. Business owners need to remember that they are trying to reach their potential customers, and they are not trying to reach themselves.

As a side note to choosing which media platform to use: I have heard business owners tell me that they are choosing not to advertise because the community knows who they are. I love hearing that a business feels well known in a community, but then I need to remind myself that I was once new to this community with no idea which businesses would best suit my needs; I am just one of the many “new” residents to this community, and even after years of living here, I am still discovering hidden gems. Businesses should always keep in mind how the community they serve changes as people move in and out of the area and how they are going to reach that new addition to their target audience.

As business owners know, their target audience is their No. 1 priority to keep their doors open, and reaching that audience is key to keep them arriving at that door. Constantly reminding the community who is behind those doors, and what you have to offer, is key. You’ve got this, business owners!

Drew Powell is a multimedia sales consultant for the Idaho State Journal. She can be reached at dpowell@journalnet.com.