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If that wasn’t enough there’s the issue of saturation. On average, you and I receive some 3,000 ad messages a day. That’s more than two every minute. Some are very big, like billboards. Some are very small, like the icon on the computer I’m working on right now. Your ad is just one in a sea of ads. And chances are, with all that competition, your humble non-profit ad will not be the one that will rise to the top. Big retailers spend millions to make their ads memorable. Let’s face it, most of the ads that come from non-profits are boring. How can they compete? A fallout from all this is that ads have a very transitory nature. We as consumers have been conditioned to digest ads quickly and move on to the next one. The staying power of any ad seems to be getting smaller.
Finally, there’s cost. Back in the days when mass media was king a single ad was so effective that it didn’t matter what it cost. A TV ad on the right 1960’s show would reach and motivate millions. Don’t believe me? Just ask a boomer to recite their favourite TV ad jingle or slogan from when they were kids. That was then. Today, mass media is dead. Reaching the same number of people is going to cost more because media outlets aren’t as powerful as they once were.
So, when you have to advertise, do some hard thinking. Placing ads is not a problem, it’s choosing where to put them that is the trick. Before you do a knee-jerk reaction and call the media outlet you read or listen to, ask what do your customers read and listen to. Making an ad is not a problem, either, it’s making one that will stand out in a crowd. Before you start creating your ads look at the others that it will likely be competing against – even those which are not in competing marketplaces. Ask yourself, if you were someone else, would you want to read your ads? If the answer is no, then go back to the drawing board. Spending money on ads is not a problem – it’s easy to spend lots of money. Ask yourself what am I buying and how effective will this really be? Odds are that you will have to use multiple ads with multiple media outlets to get noticed. In other words, to get the push you really want, it may be necessary to go big or go home. That’s an expensive proposition for any non-profit, but it’s better than spending money on a continuing basis for a few ads that no one will ever see.
Advertising is a powerful tool. And it can work wonders. The trick is to do your homework before you call the ad salesperson.