You don't have to 'do more with less'

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It has almost become a cliché to speak of the current economy as challenging. The comment is often followed by a discussion of how to "do with less." In these challenging times, are there other options? To answer that, you need to determine where your business is coming from; establish how much of advertising is wasted; and consider all media options.

A trade area, or customer footprint, analysis provides information on how many customers are receiving your print advertising. Many retailers have not updated their trading area recently. Redefining the trading area means reducing waste and considering media options. Identify which neighborhoods are most productive and produce 65%, 80% or 90% of sales (the 65-80-90 rule). Many clients have trimmed their footprint by 20%.

As the number of media channels increases, technology can help. Technology enables you to target relevant geographies, identify media usage, and blend media to produce the multichannel recommendations. This allows you to create hyper-localized media plans tailored to consumers.

The measure of media waste is the percentage of media coverage that falls outside the trading area. We have come to accept some media waste as a tradeoff against cost.

With the customer footprint in hand, overlay your media by ZIP code. How well do they match? If the match is perfect, the media plan is 100% efficient. 93% to 95% is acceptable; 5% to 7% of media coverage is in neighborhoods where you have few or no customers. More than that, and the plan should be reviewed.

The footprint has been refined to reflect the geographic source of our revenue stream. Coverage has been optimized to put media spend in the most productive neighborhoods. In the process, you may discover local media preferences and biases.

Despite ad budget pressure, you do not have to settle for less coverage. With sharper footprint definition, aggressive waste trimming, and an open mind to alternative print media, you may cover more of your sales with your current or even reduced ad budgets.

dsherr@valassis.com

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