A Pile of Overpriced Marketing on My Lawn

Marketing in Billings usually has a lot of noise attached to it.  But I’m not sure if a thud is really the sound you want associated with your marketing.

I had just made a short walk to my mailbox.  It is not in front of the house, instead its one of those group boxes on the corner.  I was just walking into the garage when I heard it “plop” loudly behind me.

Yellow Plastic Marketing Mess

Turning, I saw it.  A big plastic bag with a yellow book inside it lying on my grass.  I’m sure  inside the book is filled with ads and Billings marketing materials.  I won’t ever know.

Like most people in Billings, I won’t even open the plastic to get to the book. I’d put it in the dumpster but it strikes me its a perfectly good waste of paper and landfill space.

Even phone directories own research tells you they are not effective.  Look at this graph.

Billings marketing in phone directories










Even the directories own research is showing more people find businesses online than in the phone directory.  While the directories still have their marketing supporters in Billings, their cost is astronomical compared to the other media listed on the chart.

For example, it is well known Billings is one of the least expensive radio markets in the state.  Competition is one big reason.

Print Marketing Works With Older Audiences

It is also not surprising to note the three biggest complimentary media to directories are also print based.  A higher percentage of print is consumed by older audiences.  A chart like this is more of a reflection of demographic targeting than it is a reflection of the media value.

Yet, directory companies continue to sell and business owners continue to over spent on a medium whose best day is when it plops in the driveway.

I’m just glad it missed the flowers.

Print Dead in Billings Marketing! Long Live Print!

Billings marketing print good or badIn markets like ours, there is a lot of focus on print media.  Even people not in the print business see it as something they must have or read most every day.  The reality is the local Billings newspaper has less readership today than it had yesterday. Based on Audit Bureau of Circulation stats I have seen, only slightly over 27,000 people or about 15% of Yellowstone County’s population actually get the paper.

Forbes.com printed a great article on the advantages and disadvantages of print as an advertising medium.  Here are some of their points.

Print Advantages in Billings Marketing

Tangibility – A print piece is a physical thing. Magazines and newspapers can stay in houses or offices for months or years, while Internet ads can disappear into cyber space instantaneously.

Credibility – There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. The saturation of popups and banner ads on the web can be overwhelming and the fear of spam and viruses is enough make people weary of clicking. There is no imminent danger in a print ad.

Branding – Print ads are excellent for solidifying your brand identity. Your ads should have a consistent aesthetic in terms of fonts, colors and types of images to establish brand recognition.

Target Marketing – Placing ads in publications such as specialty magazines can effectively reach niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.

More Engaging – Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit. A study shows that people read digital screen text 20% – 30% slower than printed paper. (Alshaali & Varshney, 2005)

Less Print Ads – With more and more businesses relying solely on the Internet for their advertising needs, the decline of print publication can actually be used as a marketing advantage. The publications are less crowded, allowing more room for your ad to shine, and possibly even cheaper prices for that ad space.

QR Codes – Placing QR codes on printed pieces is an excellent way to bridge the gap between print and web. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code will take you to a homepage or a special offer page that lives on the web.

It is interesting to note Forbes.com attempts to defend print are more about what it is not (we don’t have viruses, people read us differently, we don’t have as many ads) versus what it is (a tangible product you can hold, and a declining way of advertising a business.)

Print has a place in Billings marketing.

As Forbes.com said,

The best way to market your business is to utilize as many channels as possible to reach every corner of your target demographic; this should not exclude print.

Print should no longer be considered a must have in terms of your Billings marketing campaigns.  The decline in readership and movement to other sources for information is rapidly driving the print business away.

How much you use and how you use it is part of a well planning Billings marketing strategy.  Getting professional help to develop and execute that strategy will prevent you from overspending on print, web, or any other form of media.

Look for someone who is focused on your top line when you look for a Billings marketing company.

Ratings and Your Billings Marketing-A Matter of Interpretation

In Billings marketing circles, there is a lot of attention paid to how many and how much when it comes to buying media time and space.  What is their rank in the market?  How much do they cost?  How many do I get?  News box versus delivery? None of that should matter to business people looking to improve their top line revenue.

Today, I’ll show how ratings, especially when marketing in Billings, is a waste of time and money.

First, a quick explanation.  Ratings are just estimates.  No one really knows for certain the actual number of listeners, readers, viewers, or even web traffic.  Much is made of Google Analytics and their ability to track clicks and actual views.  Even that is a pile of horse stuff.  Different programs will come up with different sets of data.  The important part (to the data marketing guys) is you believe the BS.

Billings marketing in print

I’ll use the newspaper for an example.  The “standard” for circulation in print is the Audit Bureau of Circulation report.  It estimates, the Billings Gazette has a shade over 27,000 daily users.  Or about 15% of Yellowstone County.  See if you can find that number on the Billings Gazette web site.  I’ll wait.

Do you believe for even an instant 18-29 year olds use the newspaper more than 60 year olds?

The BG website claims almost one million users to their site.  Or to put it another way, EVERY PERSON in Montana would have to visit the site for that to be true.  Including your 2 year old.

Billings marketing from Gazette

It doesn’t matter what system you use, they all are different.  There is no 100% way to know for sure no matter what you might be told in glossy slideshows or fancy graphic presentations.

The Most Accurate Measurement in Billings Marketing

There is one way measure that is accurate above all others.  One specific way to know if your Billings marketing is working or not.

Not to pick on print in this post because the same wildy different numbers exist for radio, cable, television, online, and out of home display too.

Look at the top line of your business before you started your campaign and after.  If you made more money, it probably worked.  If you made less money, it may not have worked.

Why the “probably” and “may” disclaimers, you might ask?

The Variables in Billings Marketing

There are too many variables to know for certain.  Don’t let the experts tell you they can isolate and split test to get the answer.  That’s BS too.  The next time you hear from a Billings marketing expert on the subject of ratings or any other analytical numbers in an attempt to justify their argument, just smile.

You have the only number that matters.

Any monkey can look at a chart of numbers.  Understanding where they come from and what they really mean is not just the province of your accountant.  Billings marketing experts can help with that too.