Looking for Regional Information?

Junk Advertising

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Advertising
When we hear "advertising" most of us think of the big three - newspaper, radio, or TV. There are many ways, beyond these big three, to advertise our products and services. Some are creative and effective, and some, which I call "junk advertising," are profitable only to those selling them.

In this article, you will learn how to evaluate and protect yourself from falling in the junk advertising trap.

Junk advertising takes as many different forms as there are people to think them up. This type of advertising may include such things as restaurant place-mats, signs in bathrooms or business entryways, event posters and public awareness campaigns and specialty advertising. Specialty advertising refers to imprinted handout items such as pens, key-chains, and a host of other such items.

About 65% of junk advertising is telemarketed. A more accurate way to look at it - 99% of any advertising or sponsorship opportunities offered you by phone (especially long distance phone) is junk advertising to be avoided. It will be extremely over-priced for what you actually get, and you will seldom notice any difference in store traffic.

The primary sales pitch for this type of advertising is exclusivity. Only one business in your category will be allowed to participate. This adds seemingly great value to the opportunity, and, at the same time, a sense of urgency. You must act before your competitor takes your spot.

In reality, being exclusive is of no great value. What it does is take your focus off the most important issue - like who will ever even SEE the ad anyway. And of those few that do, what are the odds they are interested in what you have to offer at that very moment of impact.

The best strategy with any such offer is to establish a strict policy. Never buy any of these "opportunities" within 24 hours of first contact.

No matter how good it sounds!

Tell them you have to discuss it with your partner. It will give you the time to evaluate the offer much more objectively without the emotional involvement. Emotion has no place in investing your money wisely.

Event posters and other sponsorship advertising are strictly a donation and should be shown in your books as such. Otherwise it will be difficult to evaluate what you spent on real advertising and the benefit you received. If you need to trim your budget next year, you will not be trimming what is actually valuable to you.

Most event posters today will have more sponsor ads on them than information about the event. The posters are placed in very limited locations. The people that actually do read them are looking for information about the event and could care less about who is helping to pay for the poster. Strictly speaking, the event poster has very little value to the public and a lot less value to you. They are primarily a fund raising scheme. At least Girl Scout Cookies give you some value for your donation.

Many local, state, and national organizations and charities will ask you to run sponsor ads in their publications. Perhaps you may be asked to place a sign in a local sports venue. Even local newspaper, radio, and TV will contact you about sponsoring different local events or public awareness campaigns.

From an advertising standpoint, this is all junk advertising.

Specialty advertising has a lot of perceived value and is very appealing to the business owner. Handing out items with your name on them can really give you a self-esteem boost.

But think about it. You probably have a drawer full of pens, key-chains, refrigerator magnets, and ball caps from other businesses that you will never look at or use - and will eventually be thrown away. Out of sight, out of mind. Most people will never wear an item with a business name unless it is their business - or a socially popular logo such as Coke. It is not a bad idea for your employees to wear such items, but that should be the extent of your investment in imprinted clothing. And even then, very few employees like to wear those items in public, so the real advertising value is very little.

Here are some tips that will save you a lot of money and grief.

1. If you want imprinted items to give away, make sure the items are directly related to your business and are useful for the recipient. If not, then do not waste your money. One drycleaner gave away a convenient lint remover that could be carried in the pocket or purse.

2. Make sure to keep donations and advertising separated. Donating to local groups is a good idea, but only donate to those events and organizations that you have a strong interest in, your customers are involved in or has some relationship to your business. For example, if you sell sports equipment, supporting the local softball teams will be pure gold for you.

3. Once you buy a sponsorship, keep in mind that you will then be a target for other organizations - and next time for the same organization. This can be a real nuisance. Sometimes I just give the organization a donation and skip the ad.

4. Make sure that any donations you make in this regard are going to benefit you on a local basis. A statewide police magazine, for example, will only be read by a dozen or two local people.

5. Never buy any "advertising" sold over the phone. If they cannot stop by and see you, it will have no value to you.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you will, as so many others have, find a lot more money in you wallet at the end of the year.

One drug store owner, in a small town of 20,000, decided to follow these suggestions for just one week. He saved over 500 from prior year. He then took the 500 and placed a half-page sale ad in the local newspaper and realized an excellent profit.