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Advertise on Facebook? Buy a full-page newspaper ad? Do radio commercials? Put flyers on windshields in a parking lot? These are all questions I’ve been asked about the best (or cheapest) way to advertise a business or service.

The answer is no to all of those…at least at first.

I’m far from a marketing expert, but I’ve found that when someone asks a question like this it’s because a businessperson that they know has had success with one of those methods or the person asking has been moved by one of those marketing methods.

So let’s back it up about three steps and find out what you’re trying to accomplish.

What ARE you trying to accomplish? Do you want to gain more new customers, or do you want to close the deal on the leads that you already have? Are you trying to build brand awareness or are you targeting people to a specific event? Many times I hear “I just want more business”. That’s not good enough. Define what “more business” actually means.

When you get a new customer, how did it happen? Was it a man or woman that made the decision? Are they single or married? It’s important to know your customer so that you can know where to find potential new customers. It’s pretty easy if you’re selling dresses or chainsaws, those are heavily gender-based buying decisions (not exclusively, but heavily weighted!). But if you’re selling a vacation or a kitchen-remodel or a nice dinner, you need to think about the conversation that leads to the customer deciding on you. How do you find out who your target audience is…you ask your existing customers.

Now, assuming you know who you’re marketing to, then it’s a matter of finding them.   This seems obvious, but remember that when you’re getting information from someone representing an advertising outlet, they’re also working to sell you. Be sure to find out specific information: Male vs Female readers/listeners/viewers, areas of higher concentration, highest rated times or highest engaged ZIP codes.

Just because you have a favorite station or radio personality doesn’t mean that’s the best place to advertise, don’t let your opinion cloud clear and informed decisions when it comes to getting your message out there. You’re sports fan and love ESPN, you buy some TV commercials with the cable company to run on ESPN, your buddies tell you they saw your commercials. That’s really cool…but will it actually generate any leads for your business or just satisfy your ego?

Be informed. The most well-informed decision is the best decision.


Pete Herrick is a radio personality, speaker, blogger and podcaster. He works with groups on leadership, culture, transition, efficiency, storytelling and branding. Find him on social media @peteherrick or at Now booking engagements, contact us for availability.