4 Tips for Regional Companies with Shrinking Media Budgets

The best way to maximize an advertising budget with effective media choices.

When CEO’s and CFO’s begin working on their next annual budget looking to increase their bottom line or off setting losses, often they look at cutting all budgets by a common percentage. The media budget is usually never spared the axe. While this may be a necessary evil, it may also be due to most C- level execs not thinking of media as an investment but rather an expense.

Sam Walton was once asked why he advertised so much when he was the #1 retailer in the country and he appropriately answered, “because I never want to be # 2!” Stop and think about what he was saying. It’s not an expense, it’s an investment. But if you must cut your media budget keep these points in mind:

1. Strategically Invest in mediums during their high times.

When money is tight, it’s even more important to optimize your media. To do this you’ll need to evaluate engagement metrics. For example: run TV ads when shows are first runs and more folks are likely to be indoors watching them. Billboards reach more consumers during spring and summer months when there is more daylight and more people are transient.  Think digital and pureplay during work hours and early evenings and radio during key am. and pm. drive times.

2. Ensure that all rates are negotiated to their lowest possible point.  

Most RFPs request avails, ratings and rates. The outlets usually respond with a list of avails and rates. In many cases, these rates are accepted or negotiated slightly. But with harder negotiations you’ll find more wiggle room on rates than they like to let on, so, make your agency negotiate harder. Don’t just accept what they are telling you is their best rates. Go lower. It usually pays off quite well.

3.  Request and utilize all added value.  

If requested, most media outlets will offer some form of added value during the negotiating process. If not, you should certainly be requesting it. Request something that is beneficial to your plan, not what is first offered. Added value is truly helpful when it enhances your campaign and is delivered; unfortunately, much of it is not. If your added value is calculated into your entire reach and frequency plans, then it’s critical to make sure these “bonus” elements are guaranteed, or you will fall short. Often a media outlet will offer it to sweeten the buy and secure the deal but then they won’t deliver on it because it’s not associated with the billable portion of the buy. Make sure it runs.

4. Buy markets locally. 

Rather than attempting to blanket an entire region or footprint through one media source or one company, try micro marketing. It’s much more work for your agency and many are not equipped to do it but find one that is, and it will pay big benefits for you. Your company will find better opportunities and better pricing. Your agency may not like it but remember they like getting paid, so make them earn it.

Author: Frank Gussoni

President & Founder of A3 media. We're Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.