By T.E. Cunningham

Many local business owners who are not experienced in marketing tend to avoid television advertising because they think it is “too expensive.” The massive media coverage each year of the price tag for a Super Bowl commercial perpetuates this belief.

But, what does “too expensive” really mean? The owner may see a price tag of $500 for one commercial and immediately think it is ten times more expensive than the radio spots he/she is currently buying. Or the owner may be told there is no “value-added” (a term I abhor by the way and will speak to in a later blog) or free spots. All of this is flawed thinking because it doesn’t address the most important thing for the owner to keep in mind: How many persons in my target audience am I reaching and how powerful is this messaging system?
Here are some critical tips for local businesses looking at advertising on TV:

• You want to compare price on any media you buy, especially TV by how many persons you are reaching divided by the cost of the advertising, to reach a simple cost per person (CPP) formula. For those not sophisticated in rating points and TV-talk, that’s the way to go. Also by using this method, you will be able to compare any advertising you do

• The first thing you will typically learn when comparing media this was is that TV is almost always the most efficient advertising medium around. This is because TV is second to none when it comes to “reach” – meaning it has the largest audience of all advertising mediums if your message is going to the total market area. If you are marketing your services or products in the entire Metro area – TV is the way to go. This is contingent on you being able to spend enough to reach your target audience enough times to drive awareness and subsequently sales. A simple formula is to try a schedule for a minimum of three months and run at least two consecutive weeks of that month

• Broadcast TV versus Cable? The easiest way to decide which of the these is better for your business is to define your potential customer area. Broadcast TV is all or nothing – you go to the full market area or nothing. Cable can be zoned, and sometimes can be a better choice if your marketing area is very small (for instance 10-15 miles around your place of business). When evaluating you still want to use the above formula, however, because if your area of business is more extensive than even one cable zone – you may find that Broadcast TV may be more efficient

• Note that price is not the only consideration. One of the reasons I love TV and Cable advertising is because very few mediums give you the opportunity to reach people visually and auditorily. This type of messaging can connect emotionally with the viewer in a way that no other medium, except video on the web, can

• Another barrier to TV advertising for the local business owner is the anticipated cost of Television production. Going through an agency or production house is going to be expensive in most cases, but some TV and Cable operators will provide these spots at a fraction of the cost if you approach them directly and make a fair commitment. You can also economically use online video sites to produce commercials with text, video, and music for a simple commercial to get started

The best advice is always to explore your options and compare all mediums to find the right media mix for your particular business, and then measure your return on investment after the campaign runs.