In traditional marketing circles, media wastage refers to the proportion of a promotional expenditure that reaches the wrong audience or remains unseen by your target audience.
You might buy ad space in a given publication, for example, but of the people who view your ad, some won’t be in your target audience. On the other hand, some who are in your target audience who buy the publication won’t view that page. In either case, a percentage of your ad spend is wasted. If you spent time preparing that ad, a percentage of your time has been wasted, too.
For freelancers, though, the concept of media wastage reaches beyond paid promotions. Your time is money, after all. So it pays to consider media wastage as the proportion of any promotional expenditure — of time or money — that fails to reach your audience. This concept provides a neat way to quickly assess every promotional opportunity you come across.
How Wastage Works
When you start to consider the cost of wastage as encompassing your time as well as the actual dollar cost of a promotion, you can find that the freelance promotions playing field shifts.
For example, imagine you’re faced with three opportunities this evening: you have the chance to complete a small paid job for a client who’s been great at referring work your way, the opportunity to write an article to be published in a publication that’s widely read within your target audience, and an invitation to a networking event where you expect to meet a range of people from your target audience.
You have three opportunities, and one evening. You can’t do them all, so which will you choose?
One way to assess your options is to focus on the number of prospects each task will allow you to reach. In this case, you might decide to write the article, as the publication will be accessed by more people than either of the alternatives.
If you consider wastage alone, on the other hand, you might end up choosing the small paid job. After all, your client has a good record of recommending clients your way, and in terms of getting a return on your time, this is the only paying option for the evening.
But if you feel that your best leads are people you know, you might be torn between attending the networking event, knowing that you’ll meet at least some people who don’t have a need for your offering, or doing the client work in the hope that a good project outcome will earn you a new client referral or two.
Weighing Up Objectives
Decisions of this kind are never made in a vacuum. If you were to choose between these three options, your decision would likely be influenced by your mood, how social you felt, how your cashflow was looking, how excited you were about each opportunity, the other kinds of promotions you’ve been using recently, and so on.
But perhaps the most important consideration in making the decision should be your business objectives. If your objective is to target a local audience and build in-person relationships, you’ll make a different choice than you would if your primary goal was to build an industry-wide reputation as an expert in your field. And if your primary goal is to increase your income by a certain percentage each month, your decision might be different again.
Although we’d never assess an opportunity on the basis of wastage alone, it’s a valuable consideration that can help you choose between opportunities, and make smart decisions about how you spend your time and your promotional budget.
What are the main factors that influence your promotional choices?