As part of our Boost My Business initiative Fiona Alston spoke to Fergal O'Connor, CEO of Buymedia about paid advertising for SMEs.

Buymedia is a platform which helps SMEs compete with larger brands when trying to advertise. Using AI and machine learning the platform, which is free to use, helps determine the best advertising strategy for your business within your budget.

Whether you decide to get help with you advertising or fly solo O’Connor has the following tips to help navigate the advertising landscape.

Plan your advertising – the biggest mistake businesses make with advertising is they jump into purchasing advertising before planning it out. Paid advertising is not an instant solution to a drop in sales – think it out and plan ahead.

Make sure you know who your ideal customers are, who will bring in the most value to you?  Right down to the smallest of details – imagine you know them - their name, where they live, what car would they drive, what they do for a living? What are their hobbies? Know who you are trying to target.

Learn from your advertising – have you been down this road before and ask honestly, was it really a good return on investment?

Which media channels do you want to use? - This will largely depend on your budget – research shows that the media channels with you get a better return on your investment rank in this order (research from Ebiquity)

1TV

2 Radio

3= Newspapers

3= Magazines

5 Online Video

6 Direct Mail

7 Social Media (paid)

8 Online Display

9 Out of Home

10 Cinema

Research audiences - Make sure you research the audience of each media title – the headline figures don’t always tell you the exact picture. For example, radio would be considered an older audience but if you are looking to target a younger audience this can still be done by looking into Spin 103.8 in Dublin, Beat radio in the South East, or Live 95 in Limerick.

Also, on the topic of radio, local radio stations can be useful and affordable advertising – very popular with listeners outside the Leinster area.

Brand Safety – brand safety is becoming more and more important as new mediums crop up. It is important that you know where your advert is going or rather where it is not going to end up. Don’t get in a situation where your advert is stuck in the middle of a negative article or something that your brand does not stand for. Make sure you have a list of words and subjects you do not want associated with.

O’Connor recommends using trusted brands like RTÉ.ie, Irish Times, independent.ie, image.ie and Evoke to give you peace of mind that your brand will be protected.

Use an integrated advertising campaign – getting a similar campaign rolling across different types of media gives you the biggest return on investment. Research done by Buymedia shows that by doing a five channel strategy, you increase the return on investment by 25%. You are not spending any more that your budget allows, you are just spending it more wisely by integrating it across five platforms.

Newspapers are alive and kicking – Sales of print and digital subscriptions have risen this year over lockdown.  The biggest age groups of print newspaper readers are an older audience in the over 55 categories with the main readership being 65+. The gender breakdown is 54.4% male and 45.6% female and they are good for advertising financial services, hospitality and recruitment.

Don’t rule out newspaper advertising, while the print version maybe skewed towards an older audience, the online version and apps are more focused to a younger audience – if you were to go to a media group for your advertising you could hit a broader audience by combining print, magazine, online and mobile devices giving you far more opportunities.

Utilise LinkedIn for B2B – the number one social media channel Buymedia refers for business is LinkedIn, it gets the best response.

Don’t forget about You Tube – You Tube is proving hugely effective at the moment. The great thing about it is that it can be done at a relatively low budget. You don't have to have huge production quality in the video to do a YouTube ad. Also, after Google, people go to YouTube to search for stuff so it’s a powerful medium online at the moment.

Out of home advertising/billboard advertising – growing increasingly and with the addition of IoT these boards can direct their advertising depending on the weather or even people’s humour. But unfortunately, this year it depends heavily on the lockdowns. If people are locked up in their homes your advertising budget is wasted.

Cinema is a no show - Ireland loves radio and cinema more, ahead of any other European countries. While cinema attracts a younger audience until the situation with Covid improves drastically then this is not a worthwhile avenue to explore.

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