Advertising is one of the most important aspects of marketing because consumers can't buy products unless they know what they are and where to get them. Businesses can employ a variety of different advertising tools to inform consumers about the benefits of their products and services, increase brand awareness and drive sales.
Print and outdoor advertisements relay information to consumers through physical means. Print advertisements are ads placed in publications, such as newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Examples of outdoor advertising include billboards, signs and posters. Direct mail is another physical advertising tool that involves mailing printed materials such as leaflets and catalogs directly to consumers. Print and outdoor advertising can direct consumers to other advertising channels, including company websites and social media platforms.
Television and radio are two traditional advertising tools that do not require the delivery of information in a physical form. TV and radio ads can potentially reach millions of consumers simultaneously. The effectiveness of TV and radio ads depends on the popularity of the show during which the ads are broadcast. The time of day and popularity of programming govern how expensive it is to buy TV and radio ads.
Telemarketing is a means of advertising over the phone. Phone marketing engages consumers directly and requires their full attention, which can make it an effective advertising method, but some consumers consider phone advertising an annoyance. In addition, more and more consumers use cell phones as a primary means of voice communication, and laws prohibit commercial telemarketers from calling cell phones.
Web and social media advertisements communicate with consumers through the internet. Web advertisements can take many forms -- from text and banner ads on websites to full TV-style commercials aired before or during video content. Sending email to consumers is another way businesses advertise on the web; as with direct mail and telemarketing, though, consumers don't always appreciate this unsolicited contact. Social media marketing is the use of social networking and community websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to advertise and interact with consumers.