Advertise on TV with a limited budget

Author: Mary Anne Eades

Most people, including small business owners, think that only national brands can afford to advertise on television. That may have been true 20 years ago, but with the sheer variety and number of programs, even small, local businesses can afford to use this platform.

Why choose TV advertising?
Products and services that are visually interesting are well suited for TV. A spa can showcase its services and environment in a commercial, giving a viewer a feeling of envy and the need for relaxation. A car salesman or jeweler can better demonstrate their products in action, showing a potential buyer how much purchasing their merchandise would increase his or her quality of life.

Establish your goals.
TV advertising is a great medium to use for brand awareness, but not necessarily for brand engagement. Depending on how enticing the call-to-action incentive is, many viewers won’t stop what they are watching to call your business for more information about your ad. But an interesting commercial will help them remember your business when they do need the services later.

Timing is key.
You don’t want to spend your entire limited budget at once, but you do want to reach the right people as often as possible. This frequency is achieved by concentrating on specific, targeted programming. Focus on one or two shows that reach your desired audience and air several commercials during that program. If a consumer is tuning in for just one hour, they will have several opportunities to recognize, and even respond to, your ad.

Know the lingo.
When you begin the process to purchase a TV advertising schedule, your sales representative will probably keep it simple and offer you x number of spots for x dollars, but what are you really purchasing?

Start by asking what percentage of a program’s audience matches your ideal customer profile. Choose programming that appeals to your potential customers based on gender, age, ethnicity, location, etc.

Next, your sales representative will suggest a schedule that will reach that audience. Ask how many gross rating points (GRPs) that schedule delivers. A rating point is one percent of the potential audience of a program (i.e. households in your market with TVs). GRPs are the total number of rating points delivered by a particular ad schedule, or more simply, reach multiplied by frequency.

For example, if your show will be watched by 10 percent of a potential audience, and your ad will be shown to that audience 15 times in a week, your GRP would be 150.

For effective advertising, your schedule should be at least 150 GRPs per month. If your business is new to the market with little brand recognition, aim for at least 500 GRPs until your brand is well recognized.

Produce the commercial.
Now that your target audience is identified, and a schedule is developed to reach them, it’s important to make each impression count. Make your commercial memorable with humor, emotions, or even a catchy tagline or jingle. Use a call-to-action such as a special promotion to help measure the effectiveness of conversions.

Production can either be a major cost – upwards of $5,000 – or it could be included complementary from the TV station as a part of your contract purchase. Before allowing a station to produce your spot, though, ask to see a portfolio of commercials they produced for other clients to ensure quality. If you choose for the station to produce it free-of-charge, ensure that they’ll allow you to use it in other mediums (such as online on your website) to allow you to maximize its impact.

Follow-up to measure effectiveness.
Throughout your buy, and when it concludes, ensure that your spots ran during the times they were scheduled. If they didn’t the station will owe you additional spots. Then revisit your original goals and see if you met them. If you were aiming for brand awareness, did you see increased website traffic or social media engagement? If you were aiming for increased sales, how many people redeemed your special offer?

TV advertising can be expensive with few results, but with a targeted strategy, even your small business can afford to cash in on its benefits. Not sure how your advertising spend ties in with your overall marketing goals? Check in next month to learn the difference between marketing and advertising, and how they work together most effectively.   

Photo Credit: Anthony Kelly

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