Advertising is communicating with customers in an attempt to influence their buying behavior by conveying a persuasive message about your products or services. Although we may not recognize it, businesses around the world use every media outlet possible to advertise their products or services. Some common advertising outlets include newspapers, Yellow Pages, direct mailing, television commercials, radio advertisings, billboard/vehicle advertising and online marketing (website advertising, business webpages, email chains, social media, etc.). The type of media outlet a business chooses depends on the type of customers the business wishes to reach, also known as the target market.

Defining the target market is critical to launching a successful advertising campaign. It is important that the business properly identifies its ideal client base so that it can make sound decisions regarding where to advertise products and services. For example, a company that provides transportation services for senior citizens should most likely not use social media as its media outlet. It would probably be more prudent to orchestrate a direct mailing or day-time television commercial, because these are the types of media outlets that senior citizens interact with.

After you have defined your target market and have identified possible media outlets that will reach your target market, it is important to have a clear message of what you want to communicate to your customers. In addition, the message should always try to reinforce your company’s competitive advantages. For example, a pizzeria in a shore town might want to advertise that they are open late and deliver to the beach. In this instance the pizzeria’s competitive advantage is superior customer service by the willingness to accommodate the needs of the customer. Another example could be an HVAC company that attaches a coupon to its invoices for a discount on a future service in an effort to establish repeat customers. In this situation, the HVAC company is showing that it is loyal to its customers and willing to provide discounted services for their repeat business.

Finally, after a business has launched its advertising campaign it is critical that the business monitor the campaign’s performance. It is important to understand that not all advertising strategies are going to be as successful as anticipated. For example, maybe the shore town pizzeria reviews the financial data after the first summer staying open late and the numbers show that being open past midnight is unprofitable. In this situation the pizzeria will likely adjust hours of operation to maintain profitability during all hours of operation. These types of adjustments are important to make sure that an advertising campaign isn’t a wasted effort or a waste of financial resources.