Frequency and Reach

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Reach and FrequencyAs you advertise your business you need to find a balance between Frequency (how often your ad is distributed) and Reach (the number of people in your audience). Taken together, these two factors go into the number of impressions your ad accumulates. You want your ad to be broadcast enough times for it to be memorable. If it does that, it is more likely to motivate them to take action.

Your goal is to get the biggest bang for your advertising buck. Because the price of each ad is determined by the number of people in your audience, your overall expense will be the cost for each time you publicize your message multiplied by the number of times the message goes out.

Frequency Vrs. Reach

For example assume Radio Station A has 10,000 listeners and commercials cost $100 each; Radio Station B has 2,500 listeners and commercials are only $25 each.  If you only have $1,000 to spend for the month which station is best?

Let’s say that both stations reach your best target market. In that case, Station B is, in my opinion, probably the better buy. The reason:  You reach less people but you reach them more often.

Station # Listeners Cost/Broadcast Impressions
A 10,000 100 10
B 2,500 25 40

Other media buyers would argue that you reach more people on station A and therefore have the potential to drive more traffic to your business.That’s probably true, but unless you have enough money to reach those people many times, your budget may be wasted.

In the case of radio, the more times people hear your commercial, the more likely they are to purchase your product.  One or two commercials just won’t have the same impact as a lot of commercials. The reason—people don’t remember what they hear once much time has passed.

The same is generally true for print. One ad in every issue of a publication will generally pull more traffic over an extended period of time than one ad broadcast only one time.

There can be exceptions, of course.  If you have a one or two-day sale and you load up all your commercials a few days before the sale, that might be a good idea.

I’ve heard lots of thoughts about how often people need to see or hear a commercial in order for it to make an impact.  Many people throw around the number of seven – and some media experts would recommend more.

For best results, consistency over time is really the key.  For instance, a car dealer in a suburb of Dallas purchased radio advertising on a popular regional radio station.  Because his budget was tight and the commercials were expensive, he bought ads at the same time of day only two or three times a week.  Over a period of six months people began to remember his message and, because he was consistent, it seemed like his commercials were running all the time.  Since most people tend to listen to radio at the same time each day, it did increase his sales and pay for the advertising.

There may also be some times when you want to put all of your budget in one or two commercials.

Every year there are a handful of advertisers that spend millions of dollars for a Super Bowl commercial.  The extra publicity surrounding the event gives extra value and some advertisers think that it is a good investment.

Overall (especially if you are a smaller business), I think you are better off with a consistent advertising approach. Establish a strategy that will reach the same people with a consistent message a number of times and you should see a return on your investment if they are the right people and are receptive to what you have to say.

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