David Stirling, President, Market Vue Partners

One of the more difficult challenges marketers face is knowing how to match the right medium and audience when analyzing local markets. Local markets are different. That is especially true when looking at stores, branches, restaurants and sales territories. A location in a neighborhood strip mall has a vastly different customer trade area than one in a power center or regional mall. Customers of a neighborhood strip mall location are most likely to come from less than five minutes drive-time. Super regional malls can draw customers from half an hour’s drive away – or even more. The neighborhood location may have only 5,000 qualified prospects within the trade area, but the super regional could easily have 250,000 or more. With that large a difference based on each market’s size, it makes sense to match the right medium to the market.

One way to right-size media markets at the local level is to use a primary/secondary/tertiary geographic approach. Your primary market may be limited to five minutes drive-time. For it, you can afford to use more expensive, highly targeted media, such as direct mail or traditional off-line media. Secondary or tertiary trade areas can expand to 15 minutes or even 30 minutes drive-time where targeted on-line media such as prospect (opt-in) email and geo-targeted web advertising are more cost efficient. Traditional broad based media, such as print and local broadcast make far more sense with broader trade areas.

What often happens is that each location in a system will vary dramatically, but too many marketers use a “one-size fits all” approach to media selection. A relatively small investment to right-size your media allocation can result in dramatic reductions in wasted advertising and drive far higher returns on marketing budgets.