Media Planning for Small Business

In Media Planning on November 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Not  so long ago, I created a media plan for an antiques and art based start-up. Like all media plans, it was based it on

  • the amount of money the client could afford to invest in attracting new visitors and
  • it was tailored to their audience.

Now this was a small business based in a remote state. The company consisted of four people. It had a limited budget. Sound familiar? Like most small businesses, the client’s audience was a niche market.

But it did have

  • vision and
  • the power of the internet.

In this case, the audience was highly affluent and interested in art and antiques and home decorating. Our research showed there are 4 million or so people on social networks that are interested in antiques. So, we went after them.

PRT3 came up with a plan to spend the client’s money in

  • contextually relevant websites
  • high traffic websites
  • print and web combos
  • slick home decorating magazines
  • and some collecting media.

Interestingly, as I negotiated each of the rates to make it possible for the client to get the broadest reach in media like  the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (They can be affordable, given a decent media plan that takes into account frequency and size.)

For the best efforts on the women’s magazines, I looked at regional editions that matched the demographic profile. I even made sure the client’s ad appeared in the hometown newspaper. (Nothing a business owner likes more than to show off to friends.)

But when the client saw the media plan, he  freaked. Not because he loved what we did,  but because our mainstream picks and negotiations were far and away above anything  he had even imagined. In fact, we scared him with the high level media and the client declined the plan.

That was a first, I must admit.

Today I see that Bill Rau of M.S. Rau Antiques, perhaps the leading international seller in his market, is well represented in the Wall Street Journal. And that other icon of high net worth style, 1st Dibs, runs weekly in the New York Times – on the same page as Tiffany’s.

Both of these sellers are at the top of their game. Rau not only made it through the recession, the company grew. And 1st Dibs named the game.  So, what’s my point?

When you have the advantage of having a media consultant on your team, follow their advice.

The media you are used to using is probably too limiting. In the rush to find new prospects and engage them, you have got to break the mold.

Media selection is a game best played by pros.

You can afford mainstream media. You can afford the big names. You can afford contextually relevant advertising.

By contextually relevant advertising, I mean selected sites that cater to your audience. Unlike AdWords or Facebook ads, you will know exactly where your ad dollars are going. You will be able to test.  (Ever see an AdWords test spread sheet? It is Greek to most people.) You will be able to adjust your ads based on metrics.

A strong media plan will grow your small business faster than almost anything else. Will you have to do some budgeting? Absolutely. Will you have to bite the bullet? Absolutely. Will you have to give your media consultant the leeway to do the right thing? You already know the answer to that.

So, before we see the last quarter fly by, take a minute to list the goals for your advertising. First quarter is already being booked – much of it is booked! – in mainstream media. That means remnant space could be available for a small budget like yours. A professional media consultant who knows the ins/outs of media buying will be able to give you a plan that takes all this into account.

Bottom line: If you want to change the way your revenues shape up in 2011, now is the time to do the work. The other bottom line: take a risk and trust the pros.  M.S. Rau and 1st Dibs didn’t get where they are by relying on yesterday’s methods.

Grow your small business in 2011. Start now by knowing where your audience is and how you will spend you ad dollars.


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