Research is great, but I prefer to convey first hand personal experience when it comes to advertising.
My family's businesses were in two areas that have disappeared; conventional film processing and personalized name and address stickers. One because of Apple phone technology and the other (stickers), because conventional letter writing has almost been replaced by Tweets, e-mails, texts and on-line accounts/payments.
I joined the family company with my dad and uncle plus 6 employees just after graduation from college. We were in the photofinishing business only at that time. We picked up exposed rolls of film at our Drug Store, Camera Store and Department store accounts, and delivered the finished orders of pictures at the same time.
In a relatively short while, now with a wife and a child on the way I realized that the business as it was currently operating was too small to support my family in addition to those of my Father and Uncle. So what to do? Since the film developing solution was in my blood since birth and not wanting to start looking for a new career I began to analyze what is missing from the film processing industry. It was a pretty seasonal summer business with a big blip at Christmas time and New Years Eve. Since film had an expiration date, most people wouldn't buy a couple of rolls to leave around in the chance they MAY want to take photos. I thought about giving them an automatic replacement roll of film with their pictures and MAIL it to them instead of having to drive it to their film processing location. I came up the name "FREE FILM FOR LIFE," and within two years we had a new 100,000 square foot factory and over 500 local women working part time hours, (with health benefits).
We also filled in the seasonal gap by selling 1000 name and address labels for $1.00 plus 25 cents for postage and handling. The 25 cents covered all of our costs and the one dollar paid for getting the order, the profit was what was left over after the advertising costs. Getting the orders in the house at the lowest, most effective cost per order was my job.
Conventional advertising just wasn't cost effective because of our low selling price. It was then that I discovered (and tweaked) direct response marketing (mail order). We participated in co-operative mailings. Every advertiser printed their own offer (or photo envelope in our case) and had them inserted to a 6X9 envelope addressed to Occupant and was bulk mailed to many millions about every six weeks. I selected the most effective markets and avoided the poorer responding ones. The business grew, we became a publicly traded company and I retired at 48. But during the wonderful experience with my company I learned a lot about advertising. Conventional advertising agencies charge you to buy TV and radio spots (you pay for creative and the time slots plus their usual 15% tacked on.) They also want you to buy magazine and newspaper ads, plus billboards and public relations charges. And at the end of the process, you look at your sales to determine if the effort was cost effective. Did sales go up enough to pay for the advertising budget? Was any part of it really cost effective, any part a waste? Who know for sure? The only way to know for sure is if you used codes on your direct mailed offers then count the orders. Send out 10,000 get back 1000 orders, bingo you got a 10% response at the cost of 31 cents per order (or whatever it comes out to), and you know exactly what you paid to get an order. Not so with conventional advertising.
Social Media is close to FREE. How about that for massive distribution and it costs very little. Perhaps the cost of joining social media sites, taking some courses, attending some conferences, purchasing some cheap apps for your phone, but the World Wide Web, the incredible Internet is FREE.
The other part of Social media that I love other than the incredible mass distribution is that you can be selective, if you so choose. For example instead of contacting everybody you can on LinkedIn, you can select the most receptive recipients, the ones in your marketing universe.
The Internet has expanded and improved the level of communication and information available and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
If you are not taking advantage of it, you are missing out on the joys of communicating, enriching your life, and educating yourself beyond your wildest dreams.
About Author / Additional Info:
I Tweet, Blog and use other Social Media to help inform the buying public about my upcoming 3 self-help books. 101 Way to Stop Hating Dating, Financial Survival and Overcoming Insomnia