Free Billings Advertising

Free Billings AdvertisingYou can get a great, effective radio campaign on almost any radio station in Billings for about $16.67 a day.  Surely your business is worth that amount of money.

But getting something for nothing seems to be a cause célèbre of late.  Maybe it started with the infamous “47% are dependent” comment in the presidential campaign.  I’m not really sure.  This post isn’t a political comment, its about marketing.

Why do business owners continue to strive to get something for nothing?  A lot of time and money gets spent in social media, free papers, free flyers, free magazines,  free coupons, free websites, or free whatevers.

You really don’t get anything for free–you pay for it with stress, time, opportunity, or cash.  Yet the practice continues.  Everyone wants to be the person who solves the problem–who gets a great deal no one else has.  The one who finds the holy grail of making Billings advertising work for the lowest possible price.

Why all the Free Papers and Magazines?

There’s a reason all those papers and magazines are free.  It’s an escape from accountability.  With no subscribers, there’s really no way to know how many of the publications are actually consumed.  It’s pretty, but is it real?  And please, don’t fall for the publishers trick of counting how many were published times 3 or 4 to suggest that is the “readership.” I mean every copy of every publication must be spread around.  I agree.  Most publications are spread around unread at the recycling station.

There’s only one way to compare across media.  Its the real dollars and cents of the spend.  If you spend $800 in cable, spend $800 in radio and compare.  If you spend $300 on a little ad in one of the free “ego-zines” inside every restaurant in town, then compare that to $300 spent on bench ads.

The final verdict comes when you compare the increase or decrease in your business revenue year to year and month to month.


Understanding Radio Ratings Place in Billings Marketing

Much money is allocated by Billings marketing agencies and advertisers based on the opinions of 14 households.  That is the number of homes who respond to questionnaires about their media listening preferences in a given week in Billings.

14 households.

Those 14 households are made up of an average of 3.2 people over the age of 12. These people have agreed to complete a record of their listening for a one week period.  This record is supposed to be done in a timely fashion.  For doing this work and making their opinions known the respondent gets this:

Billings marketing radio respondents get $1

One dollar.

Spring ’12 Radio Ratings in Billings

You can get the results of this Springs survey of 14 households here, here, or here. (some subscription required)  Its the breakdown of radio ratings in Billings over a 12 week period.

There’s a catch.  Not all the stations are even listed. The number one radio station among people over the age of 12 in Billings is not.  (No, KCTR is NOT the number one radio station in Billings.)

Now you know some of the survey limitations. Can we look deeper to see if there are any nuggets of useful information?  Should you with such a small sample?

Ratings and Use in Billings Marketing

I talked earlier about all ratings being “estimates” and guides.  The Billings Gazette estimates the amount of traffic to their website or the number of issues it sells daily.  Television and cable stations estimate their audiences as well.

The important thing for businesses to understand is the source and the quality of the estimate.  If Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports had done the estimate, I’d feel pretty good about it since his track record is excellent.

There is some degree of usefulness to radio ratings in Billings.  It is NOT by differences in share between stations.  It is really NOT by differences when you start pulling apart the information by age/sex usage.

Professional Billings Marketing Help

Using radio ratings in your Billings marketing will be much enhanced by an expert third party.  Getting a professional Billings marketing agency to help you plan and execute your marketing plan is a great start.  The plan should cost you less than the dollar on the page.



Dangers of Fly By Night Agencies

Damage from the so-called “fly-by-night” agencies are real.  The losses they can cause are dangerous.  It’s not just the loss of money these “hobby” agencies can cause you.  Its time too.

ID a Fly By Night Agency

Three ways to identify a “fly-by night” or hobby agency.

When you hire an agent to help you with your advertising, you are looking for expertise.  You are getting help for the one area of your business which could mean the difference between making money and shutting the doors.  Here are three great ways to tell if you have a “hobby” company.

Check the References

First, check their references.  Graduating from a prestigious university or an upper level degree program somewhere is not enough.  Find out with whom your agent has had success in the past.   Experience alone is not a deciding factor, but years in multiple marketing disciplines can give you a clue of what to expect.  It’s not enough to be “in advertising”, its the success earned you want.

Weak Depth=Fly By Night

Second, what do they do.  Some agencies have little idea how the internet and social media works.  Others are clueless about mainstream media like television or radio.  Still others are event experts.  And there is the laziest of all agencies, the media buying service.  These guys attempt to sell you on the idea of media buying as a true science.

It’s not.

If it were then the guys with the most money would always win.  Remember “New” Coke? No amount of marketing money in the world was going to save it.  Apple TV hasn’t exactly caused a run to the registers.

Fly by night agencies have exaggerated capabilities.  Ask the hard questions before you hire them..

Fly By Night=Unreliable

Third, a “hobby” agency may ask you for money upfront.  They don’t have the cash or the stature to have credit with media companies where you want to do business.  They sell you on the idea of a “retainer” when in reality its their cash flow coming from your pocket.  This is different than getting a scope of work estimate for a particularly intricate amount of work.  Or they may offer you an insanely low rate just to get in the door.

Social media and the availability of audio, video, and photo editing tools has made a number of people hang out their shingle as a “marketing company” or ad agency.  The problem is the same tools used as an equalizer can also fool you.

For example, there are a number of companies advertising “instant websites” on television.  I saw one in baseball’s All Star Game in July.  Click here, add a few photos, click there and within minutes you’ll be ranking high in Google.

What a crock!

But that expensive TV ad and the cool graphics looked hot.

Lots of Flash, Low Meat

“Fly by Night” agencies look a lot like that TV ad.  Lots of flash, not much substance. has a great article on questions you should ask yourself when looking you are in the market for help with your marketing.

Reputable agencies will have your top line revenue and serving your current and future customers at the top of their list of questions for you.  “Fly by nights” may start with your ad spend at the top of their proposals.