Library Articles

Why is advertising wasted? It's because most advertising isn't targeted at the right people at a time when they are ready to buy. Say you are providing some sort of engineering consulting services. Should you purchase a billboard on a highway? Or create a television ad for the Super Bowl? More than 95% of the people who saw your billboard or your Super Bowl ad are never going to buy engineering services from you or from anyone else. And that's not because there is anything wrong with your ad. It's because they just aren't in your target market.

And even when you reach the right person with your message, most times you reach them at the wrong time. You can only hope your advertising will make them remember your message the next time they are in a buying cycle.

So you have to reach the right people when they are interested in buying. That's pretty hard to do.

Publishers (both online and off) say you should consider your cost per impression as a way to determine the value of the advertising they are offering. Which scenario sounds better to you? – taking out a classified advertisement in your local newspaper for $.25 per thousand subscribers, or taking out a half-page ad in a national technical journal for $100 per thousand subscribers? The right answer depends on what you are trying to sell and to whom. (Actually, the right answer is probably neither and that you should buy clicks on Google, but hold that thought for now.)

Say you are selling engineering consulting services with a specialty in structural engineering. Your marketing goal is to get in front of as many decision makers as possible who control the selection process for any hospitals, libraries, schools and other medium-sized commercial buildings in your state. In that case, the half-page ad in the technical journal probably doesn't make sense because that journal is national. By definition, most of your impressions will be wasted outside of your state. Instead you would be better advised to buy space in the local paper, maybe increasing from a classified ad (nobody reads those unless they are buying or selling cars or renting apartments) to a bigger ad.

But the truth is, neither of those is going to do you much good. What you would really like is the technical audience that the technical magazine offers, but for your area only.

If instead you were interested in bidding and working on projects all over the country, the technical publication would clearly be a better choice. That way you could reach the people who are involved in the specification and delivery of the buildings that you want to engineer. You would have a fit in terms of interest and geography. But you are still wasting a lot of impressions. Not everyone reading those magazines is a decision maker, and even the decision makers aren't all in the market for a new structural engineering firm at the time when they see your advertisement.

In summary:

  1. Broad-based media is worth a lot less to you as an engineer than a more targeted medium like technical magazines or web sites;
  2. Geographically targeted media (like billboards) are more cost effective if you have a local target market; and
  3. None of them are really all that good at finding prospects that are in a purchasing cycle. For that you need the Internet, and that's a topic for another day.

I'm writing a series of articles like these that will walk you through how to use the Internet to target technical users. Will this information be useful to you?