The Secret of Outdoor Advertising: Frequency

Budgets are always going to be tight for small to medium-sized businesses. However, you have to invest in order to grow so you need a marketing and advertising strategy to get the most impact from your resources and outlay. Before deciding how and where to advertise, you need to establish and research your target customer market. There are two main forms of advertising you can engage in: targeted advertising in specialised areas or publications to directly hit the end customer in high concentrations, such as trade publications or specific websites or specific outdoor locations. Alternatively, you can go for the mass awareness approach, positioning your adverts where target customers will see them along with the general population in locations such as busy transport routes.

Whatever your approach it is worth re-thinking some of the more traditional forms of advertising. Outdoor advertising used to be the preserve of big business with big budgets, but the options are so broad now that you don’t need to be looking at huge billboards or 48 sheets to get your message out there. However, what you will need if you are intending to embrace outdoor promotion is a consistency and frequency of message in order to be noticed amid the mass of other adverts alongside yours.

There is a saying that if you tell someone something enough times they will start to believe it. This can be applied to advertising provided that what you are saying in your advert is ‘you want and need this product’. There have many theories expounding the benefits of frequency in advertising going all the way back to the writings of Thomas Smith. Smith’s theory illustrates the journey upon which a potential customer embarks when repeatedly confronted by the same advert. While it starts with the advert barely being noticed, it ends with a sale resulting from 20 exposures to the same advertisement. While there may be an edge of humour to this scenario, you can see why it is still used today as a guiding principle for many advertising campaigns – if you are not familiar with frequency, Smith’s work is worth a read.

However, frequency isn’t everything if your advert cannot be easily received and understood. Clever design can cost the same as ineffective design so do ensure that you are working with concepts that will make an impact. Understand where your adverts are going to be placed and that they stand out from their surroundings. Research the footfall (both pedestrian and traffic) in the areas wherein your adverts will be sited in order to model and segment the types of consumers who will see them: are they shoppers, commuters, or parents on the school run? Understanding this will be central to deciding where to locate them in the first place as you work to leverage the frequency effect.

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