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Picking the Right Advertising Vehicle to Reach Your Target Audience

When I came across an ad in the September 2007 issue of Fast Company for Microsoft’s Startup center I was intrigued. In the past Microsoft has provided some helpful information on all kinds of topics for small business owners through their Microsoft Small Business site. However I didn’t find the same helpful info in the Startup center.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to find a technology-centric portal on a technology company website but I was.

So was the site a total failure? Not at all. It’s a great resource for high tech startup companies however the rest of us probably have other things in mind when we are invited to visit a Startup center.

My point here: I think Microsoft wasted their money on the Fast Company ad. I know that Fast Company covers lots of startups and many of them are from the IT business — but not all of them and that is my point. When you select a vehicle for promoting your business, it is critical to think about how the audience of that vehicle will perceive your ad.

For grins I went to see how Fast Company profiled their audience. Here’s the demographics from their media kit:

Regretably this doesn’t tell us much. When evaluating advertising vehicles it is always important to not only look at their audience profile but at their audit statement. The audit statement will not only give you a better idea of their circulation but also their readership. Usually you will find the audit statement in the media kit along with the editorial calendar.

Unfortuately Fast Company doesn’t post their audit on-line and I couldn’t find one with a brief search. For the purposes of this post I did want to share at least one audit with you so check out this audit of Business 2.0. This audit is from the ABC. Most media planners prefer the depth of information that you can get from a BPA audit but I could not locate a complimentary draft of one on-line (can anyone point me to one? perhaps it is against their policies?).

So in the absence of an audit, should you still buy advertising? That is the $16,000 question. Of course only the larger publications can afford audit services but often the smallest publications are doing a better job of reaching your audience. The word of caution here is do the due diligence. Make sure you understand the audience before you sign the contract. Just because they have high quality production techniques or incredibly low advertising rates doesn’t make it a good match for your business.

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