SEO vs Print, Radio, and TV advertising

Posted on: April 3, 2016 by in Uncategorized
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There are many types of advertising with varying degrees of effectiveness. As a business owner, I understand that you want long lasting results and you want those results fast. Additionally, they need to be affordable. Today I want to talk about advertising, the pro’s and con’s of each, and the cost you can expect to pay.

Traditional Marketing

Networking / word of mouth


This is the cheapest advertising vertical, it’s free! In terms of money, that is. Networking requires business owners to interact with other people, whether it be a BNI or Chamber meeting, trade shows, working with vendors, or your customer base. Rubbing shoulders with your neighbors is an important part of any business and should not be overlooked. Definitely an avenue I recommend. The only downside is that it requires time that could otherwise be spent on the operations of your business.


Phonebook / Newspaper

Why are we even talking about this? Who reads a newspaper anymore? When was the last time you used a phone book other than to level out that wobbly table?


SEO is more effective than billboardsEveryone sees billboard ads, every day, on their way to work, and again on the way home. Going to the grocery store, ballgame, anytime you get on a highway. They get LOTS of visibility, but after a few sightings, they are largely ignored.  Billboards don’t excite their viewers into buying something. Most people will never buy the product or service on that billboard unless your advertising a restaurant the next exit off the highway. Billboards are used primarily for brand awareness, to let people know your business exists. Increasing brand awareness may eventually turn into a sale in the long term when someone needs your service.

Billboards are expensive. They require a graphic designer to make the ad, a print shop to print the billboard, the billboard rental rate which varies by city and circulation, and a 3 to 6-month commitment at a minimum. Plan on spending at least $6,000 monthly.


Much like billboards, nothing visual to look at, but very memorable. Listening to a radio ad several times a day for 6 months is sure to make Radio advertising is great for brand recognition, but not for lead generationpeople remember you. It’s possible to excite someone to take an action right away (like a limited supply of a product, order now, call this 1-800 number). Most radio ads will not cause anyone to do anything, however, and much like billboards, they are mostly about brand recognition. In order to be effective, you should have a campaign that lasts at least 6 months. In a small city, you can expect to pay $500 a week, more in larger cities (up to $8,000 a week!) Also don’t forget production costs of your radio ad!


Just like billboards and radio, TV ads are mostly about branding. By advertising specials or deals you can get customers in your door for specific events, but most ads are ignored, or even skipped with DVRs. They do have the benefit of having both visuals, audio and have movement. Advertising is expensive, it’s recommended to have 2 commercials in a 30-minute show, and 3 for a 1-hour TV show. Each 30-second ad can cost about $200 for small markets. That adds up quick! Again, for branding purposes, expect to run long campaigns.


Up until now, everything we talked about has one major flaw. Once you stop advertising, the benefits stop. Then all the momentum built up is lost. Sure it takes 3 to 6 months to start seeing results, but to keep seeing results, you can’t stop!


If you read my bio, you will see that I have experience starting a retail store selling high-value products, and through my advertising, I was able to create a highly successful store. I have tried all of the mentioned (except TV ads) and others I have not mentioned (flyers, fair exhibits, samples, etc). During that time, I received only 1 new customer from radio ads (although a few other new customers remember hearing it). A few came in from professional referrals or word of mouth. About 30% of new customers came in from billboard ads due to being the next exit after the billboard. The other 70% of new customers came in from my internet marketing efforts.


Internet Marketing


If you notice all of the above methods, you’re basically taking the “shot gun” approach to finding new clients. Your hoping someone needs your service when they see your ad, or hoping that they remember you when they do in the future. With SEO, people that are ready for your product or service are looking for YOU. Think about how you found this site. Either you searched for something you were looking for on google (Knoxville SEO perhaps?), or you found it shared on social media because someone found it interesting, and chances are THEY searched google for what they were looking for. This is why it’s so effective! Clients or customers come looking for you! Creating an SEO campaign creates a revenue generating asset, it also LASTS for months, even years after the contract is over, unlike the other forms of advertising where the benefit stops once you stop the campaign.

The cost varies depending on a number of factors, but generally starts at $1,500 a month. If the above hasn’t convinced you how great a deal this is, check out my article on why SEO costs so much.


PPC (pay per click) / Facebook Ads

These forms of advertising are great for immediate short-term results, although you can build an email list to market later with email marketing, turning these leads into longer term customers. This requires constant split testing of ads to see which is more effective, and a high converting landing page, both which will require constant tweaking. The costs varies widely, from a $3.70 per click for a roofer in Knoxville TN, to $115 per click for a personal injury lawyer, all the way up to $400 per click for a mesothelioma lawyer. And these are just for someone clicking on your ad, once they are on your site, you need to get them to contact you. Once they contact you, you still need to close them on a sale. It could take 100 clicks or more to get 1 sale on the low side.

While effective and quick, it is expensive, and the benefits end as soon as your campaign ends.


There are many other types of advertising, but I wanted to cover the most popular ones in this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it, and hope to have shown why SEO is the most effective form of advertising, and in the long term is often the cheapest.