As a small or medium-sized business, you are approached often with people wanting to sell you traditional advertising, everything from the Yellow Pages, newspapers and magazines, to radio and cable TV. And most likely you’ve been approached by media buyers too that claim to plan, implement, and purchase advertising flawlessly and at no cost to you other than the expense of paying the advertiser for the space. Anything free usually has its pitfalls.
I suppose media buyers had their place several decades ago. Today however media buyers for small and medium-sized businesses represent wasted expense, and most add almost no tangible value other than having the ability to hit the forward button on your ad.
Important considerations before hiring a media buyer:
- Media buyers are not free: In spite of not charging you for their service, media buyers typically receive a percentage of your spend from the advertiser…my experience has shown around 10%. You could save this expense by asking the advertiser directly for the “agency price.”
- Goals are not aligned: A media buyer will purchase media where they receive a percentage back on whatever you spend. If stand alone direct mail postcards are effective for your business, a media buyer probably won’t recommend this tactic since they typically don’t get a kick back. Do newspapers or magazines work for you as a small business advertising tactic? That probably won’t be recommended either as most do not offer agency rates.
- Don’t turn over advertising to someone else: Marketing and advertising are two of the most important functions of your business, why would you turn this over to a media buyer? Maybe you’d solicit help from a copywriter, or a true advertising,or direct marketing specialist, but not a media buyer. You know your market, your products and services, and your customers better than anyone. How is a media buyer going to advertise better than you, when their job function typically focuses on finding advertising sources?
- They don’t do much, if any, online marketing. I am heavily biased towards online marketing for small and medium-sized companies, and for obvious reasons. Online marketing is your single best tactic at acquiring qualified leads at the lowest cost possible. You won’t find media buyers offering Google PPC.
- Advertising results are not measured. I don’t know if this is the case for all of them, but I’ve never met a media buyer that measured their success on a recommended advertising tactics…as long as you keep spending, they get paid. One tactic didn’t work, let’s just spend somewhere else.
- They’re not skilled in copywriting: I’m sure there are exceptions, I haven’t run across any yet, but I’ve never met a media buyer for a small or medium-sized businesses that knew how to write effective ad copy.
At the end of the day, your best bet as a small to medium-sized business is to solicit advice from your peers in the business world. Find out what has worked for other people. Typically there are no more than 3 basic advertising tactics that will consistently produce quality leads for you — find out what these are and stick with them. Don’t always go for the inexpensive route, and if anything, hire a copywriter or skilled direct response advertising professional to help you build your message. Of course don’t forget that online marketing is your single best bet for small business marketing and advertising.