Five Ways to Get More out of Your Advertising Budget 

advertising budget

If you’re like many business owners, you advertise in the media you read or watch yourself. Or maybe you use coupon programs because they’re relatively cheap, trackable and tie directly to sales. Big spenders may buy a package deal from an internet aggregator or TV station because it covers everything from web ads and social media, to TV, radio and special promotions, all for one fixed price. 

And chances are if you’re doing this, you’re not getting the most out of your budget, not because these are inherently bad things, but rather because they give you what someone wants to sell, rather than what your business really needs. 

Major brands like Budweiser, Nike and McDonalds know this, and that’s why they either have their own in-house media buyers, or they work with agencies that have media planning departments. Even if you can’t match their money, you can use the same five criteria they use to plan their media: reach, frequency, environment, timing and actionability. 

  1. Reach focuses on the people who you want to pay to see your ads. It doesn’t matter how many thousands or millions of viewers someone promises you. The only ones worth paying for are those inclined and able to become members. Define your targets as specifically as possible – age, sex, income, employment – even the type of car they own, or if they have a dog.  There can be multiple options – men and women, different ages, etc. – but once you have them defined it’s up to the various media sales persons to show how they can deliver those specific prospects.
  2. Frequency determines how often they see your message. In real life it takes multiple hits before you even notice something new, whether on the web, a billboard or your favorite podcast, and then even more exposure to get you to act on that new information. The rule of thumb in the business is unless someone is going to see or hear your stuff at least six times, you’re wasting your money.
  3. Environment is about where you want prospects to encounter your business. Some businesses sponsor the local symphony. Others run ads in the men’s room at the local bar. Both media buys work in their own way, but each says something very different about the business running the ad. Also, think about reaching people where they’re most likely to be responsive to your message – stuck in afternoon traffic, at the ballpark, shopping online.
  4. Timing delivers messages in the right place at the right time. Consider the poster on the hot commuter train promoting cold beer at the pub near your stop, or the pop-up on your phone telling you you’re about to pass a store that carries your favorite shirts. You may not be able to get that level of hyper specificity, but make sure your media is not only timed to get your prospects to do what you want them to do, but is also present when they are most inclined to do it. 
  5. Actionable is about ability to respond. “Buy it with one click” – the call to action from Amazon sets the standard for actionability. How can your ads offer the shortest distance from message to action? 

If nothing else, remember “reach and frequency.” It’s the age-old mantra in media planning with good reason. You want to make sure you’re spending your money to reach only the people who are important to your Box with enough frequency to break through and get noticed.  That is the foundation for assessing value in any advertising medium.   

Once you have that, make sure the environment has you traveling in the right company, the timing hits prospects when they’re most receptive to your message, and that you create the opportunity for prospects to act on your message. Do that, and you’ll be playing like the big guys when it comes to getting the most bang from your advertising dollars. 

Michael McLinden earns his road rash as a serial entrepreneur, and consultant to health, wellness and fitness related companies in the U.S. and Europe with a focus on market analysis, branding and value creation. He has held executive management and strategic planning responsibilities in a number of regional and global advertising and marketing firms, including Mc|K Healthcare, which he co-founded and ran until 2014. He holds an MS from Purdue University and an MBA from TIAS Nimbas business school in the Netherlands. Email him at