Freedom Fone

Advertise your service

So, you have created your Freedom Fone service and you are ready to get the word out and advertise. A crucial question to address now is: how are you going to spread the word about your service? This chapter looks at what is involved in advertising your service.

Budget for your advertising

One common oversight when creating a Freedom Fone service is to forget about the costs associated with keeping your service running and advertising is a big part of this - people cannot call the service if they don't know about it or which number to call. Depending on which of the advertising techniques you choose to use below, it is important to set aside some money in your annual budget for this.

Advertising techniques

Because your primary target are people who have limited or no internet access, many of whom may be semi- or illiterate and may speak minority languages, it is important to carefully consider your advertising methods to suit your target market.

We recommend prioritising the following offline advertising techniques:

  • Newspaper: advertising in papers that are popular among your audience (Kubatana, when deploying Freedom Fone for an edutainment audio drama, even got the idea to place personal advertisements in local daily newspapers to pique the interest of the many Zimbabweans who read the personals!).
  • Posters: placed strategic meeting places such as schools, clinics, bus stops, civil society organisations, etc. Consider using illustrations, cartoons or other images to make your information more broadly accessible.
  • Postcards and stickers: that advertise your service can be distributed at traffic lights during peak traffic periods, inserted into newspapers, or distributed at the same points mentioned for posters.
  • Community Radio: depending on your budget you could either buy an advertising spot or participate in an existing popular talk show where you can discuss your project and thereby advertise for free. Ensure your target audience falls into the catchment area of this radio station, particularly if you're paying for the time!
  • Long term projects: where the telephone numbers remain the same for longer and the content is regularly updated, you might consider advertising your number on high-turnover, affordable consumables - for example on the plastic wrapping on loaves of bread, a commodity that everyone buys on a regular and consistent basis. You might consider running a competition in conjunction with the bread manufacturer which raises your profile (and increases your coverage) and also encourages people to buy their product. This method would help reach small rural communities that congregate around the general store in their area - they might not have access to newspapers, might not be in a radio catchment area, but they will buy bread.
  • Packaging: Kubatana trust printed newspaper-sized sheets used for wrapping produce by local vendors thereby disseminating information from the vendor to the person buying the product, to their home and its inhabitants and on - something similar could be used to advertise your numbers and educate your audience on using your Freedom Fone service.
  • Freedom Fone itself! Once your service is up and running, you can use your own service to advertise upcoming audio changes, outreach programs or the location of relevant materials to be accessed.

Note: all your advertising must include a "Call to Action". Example: "Call 077123456 to find out more". In the case of a poll, you have several criteria to communicate to your audience: start and end date/time for the poll, multiple choices answers, poll code and of course the phone number to which participants should send their SMS replies.

Do you have some advertising ideas you can share with us?

Online communication

Does your audience use the internet? Even if they don't - if you have access to the internet, and maybe run a website, you might want to consider the following channels for advertising and spreading general awareness about the service:

  • Email your information to a list of contacts you have;
  • Post your information the websites and blogs of your peers;
  • Making an announcement on your website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Educating your audience

An important step in ensuring that your audience call in and use your Freedom Fone service is to provide training to new callers. Please see the chapter Know Your Audience for some suggestions on how to do this.