As a fourth generation growing up in New Orleans, it was clear to me that our city was special. This became even more pronounced when I moved home after working in advertising in Dallas and Chicago for over a decade. One of the things that makes New Orleans unique is the excitement and loyalty that our population has for supporting local small business. Regardless of the potholes, I love driving in New Orleans because it’s not like everytown, USA. I see unique businesses and shops on every street, and I’m inspired by the love, effort, passion and entrepreneurial spirit of our local business owners. But passion can only take you so far.
Once you’ve established a strong brand and website for your small business, it’s essential to spread the word. According to Nielsen, there are 680,000 households in the 14 parish area that compromises the New Orleans market. Nielsen then whittles that down to 498,100 total households in the 7 Parish metro area. While word of mouth and referrals are the best advertising, chances are, your current loyal audience does not know nearly half a million people. This means you need to advertise. Many small business owners can find this step intimidating, but I’m here to tell you that it can be simple. Let’s talk about local media in New Orleans and learn four things to make it work!
- Know your Customer: The more you can define your customer and know the differences between who your current and prospective customers are, the better. There are a lot of media vendors out there and knowing who you want to reach will help you determine the best route for your business. If you know that your customers are home owners or that your product or service can be tailored by geography, than direct mail may be a good option for you. If you know that your customers are renters and always on the go, then social media and digital campaigns might be more beneficial. Once you know who your customer is, the next goal in an advertising campaign is to get in front of them through a combination of media vehicles. The key to determining the best reach vehicle, is timing.
- Timing: Before choosing a media vehicle, think about the timing of the message you want to convey. Is your business seasonal or do you need to advertise all year for consistent branding? Timing is key when working with the local TV stations. Local TV stations still have the greatest reach in the fragmented media landscape, and their inventory is a commodity based on time. Local businesses can negotiate better deals upfront with the stations knowing key months and even weeks of the month in which they want to advertise. Planning and buying TV in advance can translate to big savings. According to Lourdes Keiffer, Local Sales Manager at WWL/4, businesses should not wait until the last minute to purchase TV commercials because rates will be subject to demand at that moment. They operate on a first in last out basis, so securing schedules annually and before other advertisers goes a long way toward your bottom line.
- Stickiness: Being “Sticky” means you are memorable and stick in the consumer’s mind. If you can think of at least one local jingle right now, you’ve proved that advertising works. Local broadcast radio is an audio medium that helps create brand recognition through frequency, with the help of sticky jingles, slogans and tag lines. The icing on the audio advertising cake is a digital radio service such as Pandora, in which your targeted local audio ad is paired with visual graphics on screens. Pandora is the #1 mobile property for adults eighteen and older, ranked higher than Facebook, Apple, Google sites, Netflix and Snapchat according to Comscore Mobile Metric in October 2014. The ability to balance the locality of broadcast radio with the digital mobility of Pandora in the New Orleans market is a great use of advertising dollars for local businesses who want to achieve frequency of message.
- Be Realistic: Know going in that you cannot have a presence in every advertising medium at the same time. Space out what media you try within the year and try to coordinate the promotional message and timing with the vendor. Trying different approaches throughout the year broadens your reach and keeps your presence consistent so you stay in front of consumers. The most effective use of your advertising funds is not to spend in peaks and valleys, but to have a consistent budget each month in an operational cost to do business. That way, it will be easier to judge the return on investment. Plus, when you budget advertising as a regular operational cost of doing business, and strategically plan your message throughout the year, you will reach more customers with less waste.
The media selection process is time consuming for local businesses, with many media reps contacting you weekly. Thinking about these four things should make advertising conversations go more smoothly. When you are too busy to talk about marketing and advertising with media vendors, there are always dedicated media buyers, like me, to sort through the clutter and help you make informed budgeting and placement decisions.
Joanna Kuebel is an independent media consultant, and owner of JK Consulting based in New Orleans, LA. Do you have questions about how to choose media vendors or how to use a medium more efficiently. Contact Joanna here or post a question in the comments.