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How to Buy TV Advertising, Get Results, and Not Waste Money: Part 2

Television advertising is not for everyone, but it still can work as well or better than many other marketing tactics.

Truth is, traditional TV may be the single most effective and efficient way of attracting new customers for certain types of businesses.

TV should not replace your other advertising, especially ones that are working. It’s a tool for acquiring new customers. PERIOD. And should only be used if your growth has plateaued and you are in a financial position to test new marketing tactics.

TV is a Tool For Customer Acquisition, Not Branding

Your business qualifies for television if you have a burning desire and ability to grow, and if you can serve or appeal to an entire city or region.

For example, if you operate a home service business like a plumbing or heating and cooling company. If you operate a retail operation with multiple locations like a fast food franchise. Or if you are a destination retailer like a new or used car dealer.

If you are happy serving a neighborhood or niche market, then TV is not for you. Cable TV might work because it can be geographically targeted.

But for now I’m focused on growth, and that means gigantic reach and influence through traditional broadcast or network TV — which you know as the local ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX stations in your city.

Despite the talk about the eventual doom of traditional media, these network stations still reach the majority of adults in any given month. Sure, you’re gonna miss some young millennial types, but no media is perfect.

But where do you start if you don’t have major TV dollars? First, don’t be intimidated by your lack of money, even the most successful marketers started small, the key is focus.

TV stations are eager to win new business from clients so the pricing and access to affordable production has never been better.

Success in TV advertising is about repetition of your compelling offer which should appeal to a large quantity of viewers 

You will have success in television if you follow the 3 guiding marketing principles: Have a unique selling proposition, have an effective merchandising infrastructure, and focus your resources for maximum repetition.

The key here is to conserve capital, and to test. Pick one local broadcast station, not the most popular because they think too much of themselves.

Pick the station you feel best reaches your ideal customers but make sure it’s an ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX station — there is still tremendous equity in these old networks

Started on TV

Call the station and ask to work with an experienced account executive, one who works with local businesses (not just advertising agencies). Then do the following:

Ask the account executive for the rankings of the top local news and syndicated programs (Ellen, Dr. Phil, Jeopardy, etc.) based on households viewing. You want a list of live or taped-live television shows because they don’t repeat, there is always fresh content and therefore a reason to tune in each day, and few people record (DVR) these programs. This allows you to get a repetitive message in front of a large audience in a brand safe and credible environment.

Decide which programs reach your target the best — network TV can rank programs by a viewers age and sex. Generally you want people with disposable income and a good range is Adults 35-64.

Request all information in thousands (000’s) not in ratings. This allows you to determine the cost per thousand (CPM), and forecast your return on investment.

Get rates for those programs based on running a 6-week schedule over three months and ask if the station would be willing to produce a commercial at no cost. If they can’t do it for free they’ll surely be able to do it for less than any outside production company.

Take advantage of this — it’s video you get to keep and use on your website, social media feeds and even on other TV stations.

Determine the most ideal 30 minute or 60 minute local news or syndicated program. If you sell hearing aids to seniors, try a noon news program. If your target is the career woman, then focus on early morning (5–7 a.m.) shows like the Today Show or Good Morning America. If you sell home improvement services then the 6pm news on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday makes sense because people discover leaky faucets on weekends.

Select ONE program then ask your account executive to build a proposal. If it’s a 30 minute program you want a minimum of 2 commercials per day. If it’s a 60 minute program you want 3 commercials per day.

Always have 2 commercials in a 30 minute program, or 3 commercials in a 60 minute program. Run 3 days in a row in the same program with this schedule. Run at least two consecutive weeks in a row, if not more. Target weeks when generally people are in the market for your product or services.

Them’s the rules of repetition

Commit to 6 weeks over 3 months of this type of schedule. This should be enough to properly test and earn you free or discounted production.

Most major auto and national retailers like to run Thursdays through Saturday towards the end of the month, so find better rates by placing ads earlier in the week and even on Sundays.

If you can’t afford to investment of 6 weeks in this program either find a more affordable program or don’t invest. In my hometown of Indianapolis, a top 30 TV market reaching over 1 million households, this should range in cost from $3 — $5k per week or a total investment of up to $18 — $30k. In a smaller city like say Lafayette, IN — the home of Purdue University — it should cost less than $2k per week.

If you don’t get immediate results from your first few days something is wrong. Don’t stay in a program that is not getting you response, and don’t air a commercial without a compelling call to action!

An Unknown Secret

Here is a secret, you can cancel your advertising schedule anytime without any legal penalty, because you won’t have to sign a contract to book air time, just a credit check, or you may be asked to prepay.

However, it is usually station policy that you provide 2 weeks notice. But you can still cancel, and it is ethical to provide the 2 weeks notice because stations can usually resell your inventory.

Book the airtime at least 30 days out; the longer you wait, the higher the rates.

The best rates in TV or Radio are generally procured by buying in advance.

The slowest advertising months and the lowest rates can be had in July and January.

Avoid the months of April, May, September and November due to political races if you can.

Now comes the hard part. You, the business owner, needs to objectively determine what your unique selling point will be. The buying strategy is simple in terms of what works: dominate a program, test, add more programs, test, continue investing in what works. Pretty soon you are dominating an entire medium.

10% Off Is Not Compelling Enough

Nope, 10% off won’t do it.  Buy one get one free may work but it’s pretty tired. (BOGO) may work, but it’s pretty tired.

Think bigger.  Ray Skillman, a large auto dealer in Indianapolis, gives away a free large screen television with the purchase of a new car.

Although the station is producing the commercial, you are very much the director and your commercial needs to be 100% about getting as much response as possible. Even if the initial sale is a loss, consider the lifetime value of a customer before you chicken out with a boring call to action.

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