Three crucial questions when choosing advertising

Choosing when and where to advertise your business or brand can be complex, confusing, and sometimes expensive if you get it wrong. The first step is to get the basics clear in your head before you start. Ask yourself the following questions, in any order will do:

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. Who is your customer?
  3. Who are your competitors?


Whether you’re buying airtime, holding a sale, erecting signage or making a marketing decision,  these three key questions are your building blocks to a successful campaign and can help prevent you from making a costly mistake.

Focus on the problem

If you’re considering advertising, think about the problem you are trying to solve first i.e. Why are you advertising? Is there specific stock you are trying to shift? Do you want to increase foot traffic? Do you want more people to learn about your brand? Or are you running a special offer in the lead-up to Christmas? Starting an ad campaign without clarity around what you want to achieve from it can be inefficient at best or, at worst, a completely wasted exercise.

Think like the customer

Once you know what you are trying to achieve from your advertising, consider who your customer is, what they want and where they might look for it. Are they more likely to read a magazine, listen to the radio, or browse online and engage with social media?

Nielsen ratings are a great resource. Check Nielsen Media Research’s website for figures on your respective customer-base. You can narrow it down by specific medium – for example,  if you’re planning to air an ad on radio in New Zealand, more than half (63.8 per cent) of Kiwis have listened to commercial radio in the last seven days (at the time of writing). By establishing where and how your customer is going to look for information, you can better plan your advertising efforts.

For an international perspective, Nielsen in the US offers a ‘Top 10s’ list feature – a live collation of the top television shows, books, music, video games, movies, beverages, snacks and more. The rankings change in real time, giving you an up-to-date look at what’s trending for your customer-base. Google Trends lets you search for a keyword and ranks the popularity of the term as a hashtag or frequently-searched word. This can give a fascinating insight into what your customers are looking for.

Build a demographic profile of your customer base to establish who is more likely to be a reader of print, or user of social media. While it may seem natural to assume younger audiences are on social media sites such as Facebook, you could be surprised at how fast the social media landscape shifts.




The Pew Research Centre found that 72 per cent of adult internet users (and 62 per cent of the world’s entire population!) are on Facebook. While 82 per cent of those aged 18 to 29 have profiles on the site, a whopping 79 per cent of active Facebook users are aged 30 to 49, and 64 per cent of people aged 50 to 64 are also now on it. Keep your finger on the pulse of these changing dynamics among your customer base for the best targeted advertising.

With this in mind, beware attractive (and often urgent) offers using a medium that may not be right for you, or with an audience that doesn’t quite fit your target. Maybe they’re sweetening the deal with a half-price offer, but a saving on something you might not need isn’t a saving.

Stand out from competitors

Your competitors will likely be facing the same problems as you, so keep abreast of what they are doing in the market as you’ll want to do something different to stand out. Creating a point of difference or unique selling point (USP) is a vital ingredient in the recipe for advertising success. This competitive advantage is immensely valuable.

“The selection of a brand’s points of difference begins with its competitive strengths and insight about consumers’ motivations for using the category and/or brand,” explains branding expert Derrick Daye in an article for Branding Strategy Insider.

“The goal is to find a feature or benefit that distinguishes the brand from competitors in the same category and that is valued by consumers. When the point of difference is a benefit (rather than a product feature), the claim is strengthened by providing reasons to believe the benefit claim.”

To illustrate this, Daye notes that fast-food chain Subway dishes out healthier meals than its direct competitors because the sandwiches have fewer grams of fat. The ‘benefit’ is directly backed up by a ‘reason to believe’: lower fat content is healthier. Find a customer value that sets your brand apart from direct competitors as the most effective way to advertise your USP.

If you’d like to speak with one of our experts, please call us at BRANDPARTNERS.

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