Deal, or Dud? How to pick the ripest, most valuable marketing opportunities

You’re sitting at your desk. In front of you are two proposals for marketing activities – one to sponsor an expo, and another to advertise your services in your local paper. They both look like great deals, but you can only afford to do one….

So how do you pick a winner?

Over the next few issues of Foreword I’ll let you in on my special formula to detect the ripest marketing opportunities. By checking your maths, your mission and measurement, the fit between medium and message, and your audience’s mindset in the moment you can pick a winner every time.

This month – it’s maths, so… grab a calculator!


A nice sharp pencil or a spreadsheet will come in handy here, because there are three important calculations to do before you can pick your winner:

  1. Total cost
  2. Total reach
  3. Audience profile

1. Total cost

To get a real picture of the cost of entry, add up:

  • Media cost
  • Materials costs
  • Time costs

Let’s say the expo sponsorship and the newspaper advertisement both cost $500.

To participate in the expo sponsorship, you’ll need to supply content for the expo showbag and deliver your brand’s banner to the site. You’ll need to make a new advertisement for the newspaper.

To keep your direct costs down, look for opportunities to reuse material and reduce staff time.

Let’s imagine that you can use your existing flyers for the expo showbag, and one of your staff is already attending – so they can take and put up the banner. No material or time costs there.

The newspaper advertisement on the other hand, will cost $400 in design, and $100 in staff time to coordinate that process – bringing its total cost to $1,000.

The total cost of the expo is still only $500.

But as any savvy shopper knows, cost is not the same as value. We need to consider how many people each opportunity will reach, how often, for how long, and how well.


2.Total reach

Media outlets selling advertising should have a media kit with information about how many people their medium reaches, and who they are. Examine the source of this information closely. There can be a great deal of difference between externally researched or audited figures, and publisher’s estimates. For example, a newspaper might have a circulation (copies printed) of 2,000 but claim a readership of 6,000. If this readership figure is based on research that says 3 people read each copy, fine – but if it’s just an assumption, go with the lower figure.

In our scenario, the newspaper has an estimated readership of 6,000, and there will be 2,000 people at the expo. These are your “Reach” figures.

Now do this calculation:

Total Cost ÷ (Reach÷1,000) = Cost per thousand reach

This is your base measure of cost efficiency. You’ll see that the expo sponsorship will cost you $250 per thousand reach, and the newspaper advertisement will cost you $166 per thousand.

So… the newspaper wins! Or does it?

We need to consider how many of the people reached are in your target audience.

It’s time to look at…

3.Audience profile

Your message isn’t for everyone – it’s about a service you offer to people over 65 only. Your target audience is potential clients and their children, which means anyone aged 45+.

Looking at each medium’s audience profile will tell you who it reaches:

  • Based on its topic, you can assume that 100% of the 2,000 people at the Positive Ageing Expo will be interested in services for older people.
  • For the newspaper, open up that media kit and see if research on reader demographics has been included. Bingo! 50% of your newspaper’s audience is over 45. That’s 3,000 people in your target audience – 1,000 more than the expo.

Now let’s check to see which medium is more cost efficient by calculating the cost per thousand audience reach:

Total Cost ÷ ((Reach x Profile%) ÷1000) = Cost per thousand audience reach

If you got $250 per thousand for the expo and $333 per thousand for the newspaper you’re right.


Weighing it up: impact, frequency and longevity

Before you sign with the expo sponsorship, there are three other things to think about:

  • How impactful is the placement?
  • How noisy or competitive is the environment – will your message cut through?
  • How many times will your target audience have the opportunity to see your message?
  • Over what period?

Here’s where we throw away the calculator and drawn on some intuition and common sense to assess which is really the best deal. Hang onto your spreadsheet though, because putting this into a table may help to gain a better view of the big picture.

Factor Newspaper Expo Sponsorship
Total Cost $1,000 $500
Total Reach 6,000 2,000
Cost per ‘000 Reach $166 $250
Audience Reached: People 45+ 3,000 2,000
Cost per ‘000 Audience $333 $250
Impact Full back cover of souvenir lift-out Banner at entry
Flyer in showbag
Noise Low – only advertiser on back cover High – 100 exhibitors,
20 other sponsors
Frequency Once Twice
Longevity One month One day (flyer might be kept)

This newspaper advertisement is not the usual quarter-page in the news section of the paper: it will take up the entire back cover of a special souvenir lift-out, full of content that’s very appealing to your target audience. The lift-out will remain relevant and in distribution throughout Senior’s Month, so your audience is likely to hang onto this. It will have longevity.

What’s more, with both impact and longevity it’s likely that people in your target audience will see your message more than once, giving frequency a little boost.

In contrast, the expo is a very busy environment. Your message can be seen twice – it has some frequency – but you’ll share that space with many other brands…and when you went to the expo last year, you saw a lot of flyers in the bins…


Deal, dud, or… distraction?

Weighing it all up, the newspaper advertisement is probably the better deal… provided you can afford to pay the higher total cost.

However, as management legend Peter Drucker once said:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Before you buy, think about the opportunity cost: will taking this deal help drive your organisation’s mission forward, or is it a distraction? Could you achieve more by focusing on other activities?

More on that next time as we look at how to measure the value of marketing opportunities against your mission.

If you have any queries about content marketing contact us be emailing or by phoning 1300 763 505.


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