If you run a small business you have probably already found yourself having to be multi-skilled in accountancy, law, interview techniques and a whole host of other areas. If your small businesses doesn't have the resources to hire a marketing firm, you will also need to be adept at getting your products or services publicized.
Things are not as simple as they once were. There are so many media outlets out there that even large marketing agencies are finding the array of possibilities daunting. There has certainly been a shift towards digital marketing, ranging from the now established web banner ads to RSS feeds, mobile telephone messaging and pod casting, not to mention the use of blogs and viral marketing. There has been a clamour to put out on line video messages as the definition between television and internet has become increasingly blurred.
Let's be realistic. If your business cannot afford an agency, you are unlikely to be at the cutting edge of these new technologies. Do not despair. If you can't beat ‘em then don't join ‘em! As marketing spends have been stretched more thinly across all the available media, this has left traditional outlets struggling to win business. Print media has been hit particularly hard as have tv and radio. This means that in these outlets it is a buyer's market with plenty of bargains to be had.
Perhaps tv may still be out of your financial reach, but newspapers and magazines will fall over themselves to offer one-off production facilities and will advise on how best to get your message across. Radio is more user-friendly as ever, offering low cost script-writing and production expertise. If you are planning a marketing campaign on a modest budget, I would seriously consider these options. If your company trades in a discreet locality then a joint local radio and press campaign could be put together at little expense. You could even put together a do-it-yourself national campaign using these traditional media.
There was a time when the use of traditional outlets may have proved intimidating for a small business. Pick up the phone and call one of them. You may be pleasantly surprised at the hand-holding they will offer you. Remember that many agencies have negotiated rock-bottom prices with them and it is those agencies that are calling the tune. Direct approaches from companies actually offer a greater margin for print and broadcast media. Despite the fact that you will be paying more for your column inches or broadcast minutes than an ad agency, you will still get a bargain, especially now while these outlets are out of fashion.
Things may not always be this way. Traditional media has seen a lot of consolidation over recent years and this is set to continue. They are pooling their ad-selling resources. Larger print titles are taking over smaller rivals. Many of those remaining independent are sharing third-party agencies to sell ads. There has also been an exaggerated swing towards new media and there is bound to be a correction. The buyer's market will not be around for long. Like all true markets, balance will be restored and the bargains will be harder to find.
So, now is the time to act. Contact your local newspaper or your trade magazine. Contact your local radio station. With their help, you can put together your own professional campaign. While the big boys play with their new digital ad toys, you can steel a march on your competitors using traditional outlets. Do it now before it's too late!
Vernon Stent is marketing manager for various companies, including Arkay Hygiene, selling Insectocutor Electric Fly Killers . As an example listen to this radio commercial , which was produced without the use of an ad agency.