Local Network TV Advertising Strategies

  • Comments: 13
  • Written on: May 7th, 2011

Last week I wrote a post about how to get the most from your Yellow Pages advertising. Yellow Page advertisements are expensive and you only get one shot to make it work each year.

However, TV advertising is even more expensive and is often overlooked by small business because of its costs. I am a big believer in the power of radio advertising,but there is definitely a role for television in most markets – if you do it right.

How to Buy Television

Like any advertising, TV spots do not typically pay for themselves as they air. They are an investment in the growth of your business. This chicken and the egg paradox is why many small businesses don’t use television. It is simply too expensive to pump money into without pulling out immediate benefits that equal or exceed the investment.

Sometimes the only way to get the TV gravy train rolling is to start small and build up exposure over time. With television you can get big results fast with a large spend, but you can also get big results over time with a much smaller spend.

No matter what you have for a budget, plan on putting a consistent schedule together and then maintain it. It does you no good to pop in on viewers for a month and then go away. You need a sustained presence over time to get the best results.

When you meet with your TV representative ask if there are any monthly packages or specials available. Be up front about your budget. Even if you can only afford to sponsor a couple weather casts a week, committing to a consistent annual buy qualifies you for bonus spots that the station will give you when they have leftover inventory.

For example, we buy about $8,000 a month in advertising on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha, NE. Because we committed to a monthly spend we get a few bonuses that others do not receive.

While we are paying to run our commercials, we also get:

  • Ffree web ads
  • Free bonus spots from unsold inventory
  • Free coverage on the station’s digital weather channel

Some of our other competitors actually pay for the digital weather spots as their primary advertising. Digital TV is still so new that these spots are incredibly unproductive, but since they are free we accept them if for no other reason than it makes our competitors call their KETV sales reps to whine about the fact they are not the exclusive PC repair company on the channel (that has really happened – can you believe it?).

How to make your Television Ad

Almost all TV stations have a production department. Some are good and some are not so hot. You won’t know what you have until they produce a spot for you, so ask your sales rep to get it included for free with your spend. Otherwise you can get hit with a $400+ tab per commercial.

When your ad is done, ask your sales rep to email you a copy for review. When you have approved your ad, upload it to YouTube and use it on your website too. The ad is yours, so get the most out of it!

Do not spend big money with an ad agency making a spot for you. You need the budget to get your message out, and no matter how awesome your ad is, if you don’t have the cash to run it you are dead in the water.

What to Put in Your Ad

Remember that you only have about :30 of your viewer’s time to work with. That is barely enough time to get one idea across, so don’t try to do too much.

Also, viewers will have to see your ad about 10 times before they remember it. Keep your message clean and simple.

Television is a visual medium, so your images can tell as much as your words can. For example, Schrock ran this commercial to promote a Computer Maintenance Checkup sale:

As you can see, we wanted to communicate to the viewer that your computer is dirty and clogged up. My words said bring it in to be cleaned on special. Note that I did not give our exact address or phone number in the audio of the spot.

When people watch TV they are not sitting there with a pen waiting to write down your important message. Instead we gave the cross-streets for each of our Service Centers and then the website URL along with an image of our Omaha Service Center.

After 10 impressions, people will get the idea. Don’t waste precious seconds with unnecessary words or details. Keep it simple with powerful imagery.

Track Your Results

When your customers come in to do business you should ALWAYS ask them where they are coming from. Measure how many responses you receive (phone calls, emails, and foot traffic) form your commercial.

If after 6 months you are not seeing a measurable result from your efforts, consider changing things up.

Yellow Page Strategies for 2011 and 2012
Get a Local Sales Rep & Build a Relationship

  • Comments: 7
  • Written on: April 17th, 2011

Yellow Pages Advertising StrategiesA couple years ago I wrote a post about how to get the best possible deal from your Yellow Pages sales representative.

As the Internet gains more and more influence at the expense of the Yellow Pages, I thought it would be a good idea to revise my old post with the latest and greatest strategies to maximize your Yellow Pages investment.

Go Yellow, Go Web, or Both?

Before the days of the Internet and Google people turned to the yellow pages when a service provider was not top-of-mind. Over the past 10 years use of the yellow pages has been declining as people using laptops, smart phones and computers have turned to online searches for real-time directions, reviews, and pricing – things the Yellow Pages can never offer.

As a general rule (that is becoming less and less applicable after each passing day) there is a generational gap between people who use the Yellow Pages and people who use the Internet when they are looking for a business. Generally speaking, people 40 and younger will turn to the Internet first for information while those over the age of 40 tend to look toward the yellow pages instead.

As a general rule if your target customer is under the age of 40 your advertising dollars might be better spent on a digital medium such as Google or Facebook ads.

Likewise, if your target demographic is over 40 years of age the Yellow Pages can still bring new customers through the door, although the book’s days of dominance are in their sunset years.

Three Ways to Get the Most From the Yellow Pages

If you decide to add the yellow pages to your marketing mix, there are three iron-clad tips you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

1. Use Your Sales Representative

In some cases your Yellow Pages sales representative is a regional traveler that you will never see again who is only interested in the immediate sale. If your sales representative is a temporary transplant, don’t plan on a lasting relationship.

On the other hand, Yellow Page companies like Dex are beginning to realize that their sales representatives need deeper relationships with individual business owners to maximize annual sales results.

If you are lucky enough to have a local rep, they are probably one person in an office of three or four people. This is an ideal situation for the small business owner. In a small office, a sales representative can negotiate special deals, arrange bonuses and genuinely look out for the best interest of your business.

For example, I recently signed a contract with my DEX sales representative, (Joy Brummer) for my computer repair service center in Omaha, NE. We purchased a full-page advertisement that ensures we will be placed at the very beginning of the computer section of the book.

Joy and I really hit it off. We met a second time for lunch, traded stories about our industries & clients, and Joy really got to know what makes Schrock Innovations’ business engine tick.

Joy felt Dex’s online tools would really benefit our business, but I wasn’t terribly interested. We already dominate the Google search results in Omaha, we will soon have the most prominent advertisement in the phone book. After talking about it for a bit she made me an offer I could not refuse.

She was so convinced that the Dex online product was right for us that she offered us $900 per month of free advertising in DEX’s online yellow pages listings. She said if we like the results, buy it next year. Now that is faith in your product!

It pays to be nice to your sales representative. If you have a local rep, don’t start off your conversation like you are hard-ball negotiating at Kris’ Used Car Sales.

Your gruff and domineering attitude will deeply offend your sales rep. Sales people have a stable of incentives and bonuses they can offer – or withhold – at their discretion.

If you act like a jerk who needs an anger management class she will not give you any of the bonuses she can – even the ones she pays for like a gift card to the local Indian restaurant.

2. Ask for First Time Advertiser Status – Even if you are not one

Yellow pages representatives usually have 2 fee structures. One is designed for new advertisers and the other is designed for repeat customers. Repeat customers actually get charged more, so you want the same rate schedule the new guy gets whenever possible.

Yellow Page sales representatives typically can’t lower the pricing structure unless they are against the deadline with unsold inventory. However, in some cases that can adjust which rate schedule you are given.

For example, Schrock Innovations has been in Omaha, NE since 2003 and we did have a yellow page ad in 2004. Technically we were not a new customer. However, because of the great relationship I have with Joy, she was able to convince her sales manager to give us first time advertiser status.

3. Pay your bills on time.

When you do not pay your Yellow Pages invoices on time it creates a massive obstacle for your sales representative.

“Deadbeat” businesses (those who pay 90-days or more late) and businesses who consistently show they are having trouble paying for their obligations don’t get the best deals from their ales representatives.

Why would a sales manager give a sweetheart deal to a business who is already showing they can’t meet their obligations?

Asking your sales rep to go to her manager for a special deal when you are behind in your payments is asking her to do the impossible.

The bottom line is that playing hardball works when you have a regional representative who doesn’t care about you or your business.

If you are lucky enough to have a local sales representative in a small office treat her with respect. If you don’t you not only poison the well with her, but you also poison the whole sales office. Local people talk, and a local sales office is a breeding ground for “you won’t believe this guy” kind of stories. If you treat one rep badly, getting anything from anyone is the office will be a challenge.

 

Clear Channel Radio Advertising Strategies

  • Comments: 3
  • Written on: March 23rd, 2011

I am a big believer in radio advertising.  If you have a business on a tight budget, or if you just want to get the best marketing deal around, radio can get your message out there quickly at a cost that is much lower than television or print media. If you decide to use radio […]

How Not to Respod to a Marketing Campaign
Courtesy of Apple’s Stupid Lawyers

  • Comments: 1
  • Written on: August 1st, 2009

There are a lot of ways to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. You can look at market share gained, revenue generated, or response rates. But sometimes the true measure of an ad’s effectiveness is not in these numbers.

A truly brilliant marketing campaign makes your competitors whine. It makes then call their lawyers. It makes them grasp at any straw to make the bleeding stop.

There is truth to the saying “thou dost protest too much.” If you get your competitor to respond in a direct way to an indirect advertisement you know you are doing something right.

If Your Competitors Squawk, Keep Doing It

If something in your advertising – a word, phrase or concept – draws the ire of a competitor there is usually something about what you are doing that they are afraid of.

Take this recent example:

Microsoft recently launched a series of TV ads called Laptop Hunters.

Small Business Recession Growth Strategy in Practice

  • Comments: 3
  • Written on: July 14th, 2009

A recession is a massive opportunity for a small business that is willing to take a few calculated risks for a big reward. While your competitors are petrified by fear – real or manufactured – about what the future holds, your business needs to seize the present. By moving aggressively with calculated marketing moves you can snatch customers and marketshare for your company while your competitors’ fears become their reality.

Over the past few months I have written about:

* Yellow Page Advertising Strategies for a Start-up Business
* Radio Advertising Strategies that Work Fast
* Why a Recession is the Best Time to Lead Your Industry
* How to Use Dunn & Bradstreet to Identify & Target Weak Competitors

I know these strategies work because I employ them in my computer repair company, Schrock Innovations. Schrock was started in 1999 and controls a commanding share of the Lincoln and Omaha computer repair marketplace. We have zero debt, great cash flow, and we are taking in an average of 162 new customers each and every month in 2009. We are GROWING in a recession.

Yellow Page Phone Book Advertising Strategies

  • Comments: 14
  • Written on: December 30th, 2008

Learn the Yellow Pages Phone Book advertising strategy that will get you the best deal, generate the best results, and will launch you past your competition.

Business Strategies for an Economic Downturn

  • Comments: 6
  • Written on: December 16th, 2008

There are some of my basic business principles that will help your business thrive in a bad economy. Never Stop Advertising. Don’t Become a Low Cost Leader…

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