How to Scale Your National Advertising with a Local Budget in 2021

How to Scale Your National Advertising with a Local Budget in 2021

Today, many brands tend to "write off" national advertising because they assume it's going to be out of their price range. In this regard, there is certainly a kernel of truth in that assumption. For example, one study found that the average cost of a 30-second TV commercial in 2019 amounted to almost $105,000 — quite a bit of money, especially for a local brand with a "local-sized" budget!

However, even though national advertising may seem daunting, it doesn't have to be an insurmountable barrier to reaching the maximum number of consumers. Here are three tips for marketing nationally without having a national advertising budget:

Tip #1: Advertise During Down Times

Every advertising channel has "peak days" and "peak times" — in other words, days and times with the highest traffic and the highest click-through rates (for online and OTT ads). As an example, in the world of email marketing, the highest click-through rates are found on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to one study. (The worst click-through rates are on Saturday.) In terms of broadcast or cable television, "primetime" typically refers to evenings and weekends (and especially weekend evenings).

While primetime on television is usually associated with the highest cost per ad rates, the reality is that you don't have to advertise during that time to be successful and go national. The same principle applies to paid advertising over online platforms, such as Facebook. For instance, you can schedule your Facebook ads to display only on certain days and at certain times. By doing so, you'll put yourself in a position to only pay for the highest quality leads.

Tip #2: Focus on a General Awareness Campaign

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to national advertising is that your campaign doesn't have to focus on directly driving sales. Instead, you can advertise nationally with a tighter budget by keeping your ads at a brand awareness level. There are several benefits to employing this strategy. Here are just a couple of advantages to consider:

  • Your creative will stay consistent across platforms and times. As your target consumers become more acclimated to your brand, they'll be more likely to keep your company top-of-mind. Ultimately, this top-of-mind awareness will generate leads and drive sales for your business.
  • You won't have to worry about continuously updating creative or running additional campaigns. Think of all the expenses associated with developing a new advertising campaign from scratch. By keeping your creative focused on brand awareness instead of a specific product or CTA, you'll be able to bypass many of these costs and still maintain an effective presence on national media.

A classic example of a cross-platform brand awareness campaign is Progressive's creative around the character of Flo, the "insurance lady." The ads involving Flo maintained consistency, on-brand messaging across multiple channels, including TV, OTT, display ads, and more. If your budget is a primary concern, consider using a similar approach to your creative.

Tip #3: Work with an Experienced Partner

If you are primarily a local brand or a startup with a more restrictive budget trying to expand on the national level slowly, then the odds are that marketing is not one of your core competencies. Even if it is, perhaps your team only specializes in one or two marketing forms and only has experience operating within particular budget constraints.

On the other hand, when you partner with a media agency that has experience working with budgets of all sizes, then they'll be able to guide you through the process of buying spots on a national level. They'll take the demands and constraints of your budget into account, maintain an open dialogue with you about your primary and secondary marketing goals, and investigate different options on how to reach those goals within the parameters you set. 

Moreover, your media partner can help you analyze what should be done based on both the needs of your business and the needs of your target consumer. For example, suppose particular creative is "off-target" because it doesn't reflect your core demographic's interests or sensibilities. In that case, your media partner can point out the discrepancy to you — and save you a lot of time and resources in the process.

Advertising Nationally on a Local Budget

In summary, there are ways to expand your brand's reach on a national level, even if you have to stay within the bounds of a local budget. The three tips discussed above were:

  • To advertise during times that have the lowest cost-per-ad rate and the most significant impact
  • To focus your creative on brand awareness rather than specific products or CTAs
  • To enlist the aid of an experienced media agency that can guide you through the process of buying spots on a national level

If you implement these tips, then you'll likely be able to advertise to a national audience without breaking the bank — and you'll grow your brand as a result.

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