Online Guide to Business Basics: Advertising 101

Advertising is a form of promotion that is delivered to a target audience via various mediums. It can also be referred as informing the public or specific group of people about something you want to sell or provide for free. Businesses compete for consumers and thus companies have invested heavily on advertising as a way of increasing their consumer base which will ultimately increase their sales and profits.

There are various ways in which businesses can spread their information to their target audience. The specific media that is chosen will depend on the need of the business and its budget. Some of the advertising media that is available to both small and large businesses include: newspapers, radio, television, magazines, billboards, direct mail, point of sale and the internet.

Delivering the right promotion or advertising message requires various decisions to be made by marketers. For an size business there needs to be an adequate amount of research performed in order to find the best type of advertising for the intended market. Larger businesses and corporations will have much larger budgets allowing them to use a variety of medias, but there will be twice as much planning in the preparation and production of the advertisement message. Regardless of the campaign, the advertisement needs to target the right audience in order for it to succeed.

Advertising Medias

There are various advertising media that businesses can use in order to promote their products or services. The type of advertising media chosen will depend on the business’s budget, target audience and expected outcome.

  • Newspaper: This is one of the oldest and most popular forms of advertising. It involves the business buying advertising space in their local newspapers. Pro: Newspapers tend to reach a wider target audience compared to other mediums. Con: Advertising in a newspaper only offers a maximum of a single day of exposure.
  • Radio: This involves a business placing an audio advertisement on radio. It usually contains two vital components; the ad and the time the ad is played. The key is getting your target market by finding the most appropriate time slot. Pro. Radio advertising easily reaches the target audience and thus there is high response rate. Con: The listeners of your target market may change the channel, or even be listening to their MP3 or i-Pod and not even hear your advertisement.
  • Magazines: This is similar to newspaper advertising with the only difference being that the ads in a magazine are more clear and colorful. The outcome of this is that the business can develop more attractive ads that may be able to engage the consumer easier. Pro (Link is PDF): It has the potential to reach a wider, more specific audience. Con: The response rate may not be immediate since the magazines are not published on a daily basis – most are weekly, monthly etc.
  • Television: This form of advertising involves the use of visuals and audio in promoting a product or service. Businesses that want to develop television ads employ the services of professional advertising agencies who develop creative ads on their behalf. Pro: This form of advertising allows the use of both creative audio and visual ads. The consumers may be able to relate more to the advertisement that they are viewing on the television. Con: Placing ads on prime time slots is expensive. Many people also have recording devices on their televisions allowing them to fast forward through T. V. shows and thereby completely missing the advertisements.
  • Direct Mail: This involves the use of printed promotional materials that are mailed directly to the consumer. This form of advertising enables the business to provide important information about its products or services to prospective consumers. Businesses can also use it for very specific target markets. (i.e. previous consumers, consumers with particular tastes, consumers who purchased a product or service from a similar company, etc.) Pro: Advertisers have a good chance to educate the audience about the products and services. Often businesses will direct mail coupons that the consumer may be interested in using to try the services or new promotions that are being advertised. Con: Acquiring the correct mailing lists of the target markets can be a rather time consuming task. Direct mailing any sort of advertising materials is very expensive because of the printing and its materials as well as the actual postage for mailing the materials out.
  • Point of Sale: This particular promotion is made up of a physical display that is strategically placed where consumers are most likely going to see it. You can find these types of displays on counter tops, near store exits and entrances, checkout lines, etc. Examples of point of sale include display packs, posters, banners, display stands and dummy packs. Pro: Enables the product to stand out and be directly in the line of sight for the consumer. Con (Link is PDF): It is an expensive form of promotion and it requires extensive research of the particular store, its layout, its consumers, etc, for which the displays will be placed at.
  • Outdoor (signs and billboards): This involves the use of billboards, phone boxes, and various forms of transport (vehicles, airports, and train stations) to promote a product or service. Pro (Link is PDF): Strategic placement will give continuous exposure of the ad and whomever happens to see it. Con: The cost of producing and preparing such forms of advertising are rather expensive. It all depends on the location of the ad (and whats available) to determine the cost. Prime locations that see heavy traffic will carry a larger price tag than those with less traffic.
  • Internet: This is the most recent form of advertising that involves various forms of promotional tools such as websites, emails, online directories, social networks, affiliate pop-ups, spam, etc. Pro (Link is PDF): It has the ability to reach current and potential customers 24/7 of any target either very broad or extremely specific. Con: It requires a large amount of time and energy in order to keep websites, ads, etc as recent and updated as possible. Cost is also determined again by placement, and traffic on the site.

Advertisement Development

  • Branding: This is the use of a name, sign, symbol or term to identify a certain product or service to allow customers to easily differentiate it from those provided by other companies. Branding enables businesses to easily promote their products by offering consumers solutions for their problems. Branding is the key to a successful advertising message.
  • Brand Awareness (Link is PDF): This refers to the degree of which potential or current consumers identify with a specific product or service from a business. One of the goals of advertising should be to popularize a certain brand to the point where consumers can easily associate the logo, jingle, etc., with the business.
  • Customer Recognition (Link is PDF): This is an advertising technique that businesses employ in order to understand their consumers with the main aim of retaining the existing ones and attract more prospects.
  • Logo: This refers to the graphic image or emblem that companies use to make their business easily visible and recognizable. The logo reinforces the image of the business in the eyes of current and prospective consumers. This is a very important part of the branding process for a company. Changing a logo often can cause brand confusion for the current and potential consumers.
  • Trademark: (Link is PDF) This refers to a distinguishing set of colors, images or words that identifies an organization as the originator of certain services or products. The trademark prevents others from using your company’s images or logo in any form of advertising.
  • Business image: This refers to the opinion or view that current or prospective consumers have on the business. They may have come to that particular conclusion due to the way the business promotes and markets its products.
  • Campaign: This term is used to describe the collection of advertisement messages that have a single theme or idea and form part of the business’s overall marketing strategy.
  • Target Audience: (Link is PDF) In advertising, this term is used to refer to the specificr group of people within the niche, that an advertising or marketing campaign intends to reach. The target audience can be classified under age, gender, geographic location, ethnicity, martial status, etc.
  • Six-Point Advertising Strategy: (Link is PDF) This is the use of six points in determining the success of an advertisement. These six points include; the purpose of the ad, benefit of the product, secondary benefits provided by the product, target audience, audience reaction and company personality.