Marketing in the PHCE industry: The Circles

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MARKETING…. A word that can bring even the strongest of business owners to their knees… or at least that used to be the case.

With the onset of more flexible forms of advertising, such as Facebook, YouTube pre-rolls, and Google ads, even the business with little to no experience in marketing is able to “dip their toe in” the marketing pool without a huge commitment of time or money.

The first thing I need to stress is that there is no silver bullet. As much as we wish that were the case, it’s impossible to run a unilateral marketing campaign and see successful results… unless you have an unlimited budget and can spend millions on a broadcast TV campaign…. but…let's bring it back to reality, because that probably is not going to happen any time soon.

Let's start with how I like to categorize the different marketing platforms. If you envision four circles, the first ‘circle’, which, not surprisingly is the most costly ‘circle’, contains broadcast media. This is where you find your NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates. Advertising in the world of broadcast TV will typically get you the best reach to the people you actually want to reach, but of course there is a price tag associated with that.

The next ‘circle’ contains cable TV and radio. The cost for these two forms of advertising are surprisingly close. I love cable TV for advertising because you can be super selective as to where the commercial spot is shown, but you have to be very “hands on” when it comes to placing your media buy because there is a vast waste land of programming that will yield you no results. I am a big fan of Monday through Thursday ‘early evening’ and ‘evening’ programming on cable and I feel it is a great use of your marketing dollars. In some markets, I believe that radio advertising can be very effective. But you have to be careful. If you are in a rural town that has one major radio station, then it may be worth your money. Does your community have strong ties to local sports teams? High School? College? Perhaps a radio sponsorship during those sporting events would be a good place to put some marketing dollars. If you are in an area where many people commute to work each day, you may want to look at a “drive time” schedule on the most popular station. There are many times when I feel that radio is not the place to spend your marketing dollars… but it varies from city to city.

The third ‘circle’ contains social media and digital forms of advertising. This is typically the most affordable area of advertising, but it needs to be monitored closely in order to see success. Facebook Ads, Google Ads and YouTube pre rolls are a few forms of advertising in this ‘circle’. The spots you run here will typically be 10 or 15 second ads. You can be extremely specific as to your audience reach and the analytics you receive at the completion of any given campaign will give you a very accurate picture of who put eyeballs on your ad.

The forth and final ‘circle’ contains everything else. Direct mail, outdoor signage/billboards, websites, van wraps, athletic team sponsorship, theater advertising, door hangers…. the list is endless. I think I have utilized most every one of these forms of advertising at one time or another… they all have a place and a purpose, but like any marketing campaign, it has to be done right in order to see success.

Now for the million dollar question! How much to spend??? As a general rule of thumb, companies should spend around 5 percent of their total revenue on marketing to maintain their current position. Companies looking to grow or gain greater market share should budget a higher percentage, typically around 10 percent.

Once you have that number in mind, you will have to decide where you want to allocate the funds. Keep in mind that television and radio advertising is much like a game of poker, you need a ‘minimum’ spend to get in the game; otherwise you are wasting valuable dollars. There are several options if your budget does not allow for these types of advertising, so don’t be discouraged, just get creative and get the ball moving in the right direction.

Marketing is like the “ever changing gobstopper” of business, but it is an essential piece of the puzzle. Start slow, track your results, and watch your sales increase!

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