Relative to other forms of business and production promotion, advertising allows you greater control over your messages and the potential to reach a large or targeted audience. Primary drawbacks center on the costs and the uncertainty of the market's response.
Public relations campaigns may involve free media exposure, but you don't control the message. Because you pay for the broadcast time or print media space used in advertising, you have greater ability to control the timing, format and content of your message. This control allows you to leverage market research and focus on the goals of your ad campaign.
Advertising also offers an opportunity for even a small company to reach a large local or regional customer base. With television ads, for instance, your message hits a geographic audience that spans the market of the TV affiliate. Newspapers, local radio and direct mail are other methods for small businesses to reach a large audience. In addition, advertising enables you to give greater meaning to your brand than your products might otherwise allow, according to The Consumer Psychologist. Creative branding and the delivery of a unique selling proposition can make your company and brand stand out from competitors that have very similar offerings.
Other benefits of advertising include:
- The ability to evaluate return on investment with certain platforms
- Multiple media outlets to choose from
- Presentation of a value proposition based on a benefits-to-price comparison
It is hard to argue that the advertisements themselves having any drawbacks, although companies do receive negative attention from ads that are tasteless, crude or offensive. The real obstacles with advertising, though, are the expenses involved and the uncertainty with results.
Ad costs vary greatly across media. Newspapers and radio are among the more affordable options, with costs ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month, depending on the city size. TV ads typically are the most expensive, with placement costs ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per month in large cities like New York, according to marketer and business advisor Marc Prosser. Production costs are another $5,000 to $20,000, though Prosser noted that broadcasters often produce commercials for much less when you agree to a multi-month media contract.
The costs of an advertising campaign are an investment, when your messages and media selections are effective. However, the real drawback of advertising is there rarely are any guarantees on results. You may have a goal of building brand awareness in a metropolitan area, only to see your expensive campaign fail to hit the mark. The Harvard Business Review pointed out that the use of market research and data analytics help reduce some of the risks by enabling more precise message targeting.
Surveys and focus groups are among the traditional data-gathering techniques used to fine-tune advertising investments, but companies also use advanced software to track responses to online, social media and e-mail campaigns.