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Ad Types – Pros & Cons: Cable Television

Now it’s time to discuss cable television advertising in my series of posts entitled Ad Types – Pros & Cons. The reason I decided to break out cable television advertising from broadcast television advertising is because there are specific benefits and pitfalls of cable television advertising that are different from broadcast television.

But before I get into those let me just say as an avid television watcher that cable television is a wonderful thing. With hundreds of channels at your finger tips if you can’t find something that piques your interest, well maybe you’re just not interested in enough things. Or maybe you have a life that involves actual interaction with other human beings; you know, kids… family… friends. Oops, sorry, I digressed. But seriously, how cool is it that you can find out how to teach your Shih Tzu to play chopsticks while dressed up like Zsa Zsa Gabor all at 2:30 in the morning!

Anyway, back to the topic. Here’s what I see as some of the big Pro’s and Con’s of cable television advertising:


  • Audience Segmentation – One of the fundamental goals of marketing is to zero your message in on your target market with as little waste as possible. If you are a plumber or remodeler there are dozens of shows on cable that would be a perfect fit for your message. Why is it a perfect fit? Because the people watching a show about remodeling are probably considering remodeling their own house and are looking for some new ideas. What a great time to tell them how good of a remodeler you are!
  • Relative Cost – In some of my other posts I have stressed the importance of analyzing your marketing spend not just by how many viewers/listeners/readers will be exposed to your message; but how many people within YOUR TARGET MARKET will you reach. So you do the math: let’s say you are a dog groomer and you spend $500 to advertise once on a local newscast that 50,000 people will see (250 of them actually being in your target market – or $2 per message to your target audience). Or you could take that same $500 and run an ad ten times on Animal Planet’s The Dog Whisperer that 1000 people will see (250 of them are in  your target market). Youve just reduced your cost down to $.20 per message to your target audience, and you’ve added a huge component to advertising success…frequency.
  • Effectiveness – As with broadcast television advertising, having the ability to get your message across to your target audience using multiple senses (audio & visual) is more effective than using just one sense such as visual only (newspaper) or audio only (radio).
  • Programming – Years ago if you wanted your message to be played in compelling programming that was more than an infomercial, sports or political commentary you had to go to broadcast television. Now, however, cable networks are winning awards for their programming (in many cases beating out broadcast television programming).  And they’ve put these hot new shows on when broadcast television’s new shows are on hiatus. So while the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy is four weeks away TBS is premiering Saving Grace and stealing audience share.


  • Changing Viewing Habits – Similar to broadcast television advertising, people have changed the way they view their favorite shows. Now through the use of a digital video recording device like DVR or Tivo people are catching on to the fact that they can record their favorite hour long show and simply wait 15 minutes after it started to see the whole show without commercials and still have it end at the same time. Short of football’s “Big Game” (sorry, can’t say Super B***) you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would prefer to watch commercials if given the choice.
  • Production Cost – Some of this is repetitive from my broadcast television post simply because it’s the same medium. But that does not take away from the fact that producing a compelling television spot is more expensive than a newspaper ad, radio spot or banner ad combined.  And, it’s more difficult to change if you want to move away from one messaging focus to another.
  • Audience Fragmentation – Having so many choices in programming to choose from is great for targeting (see Audience Segmentation above) but it’s also a double edged sword. More choices mean more options. And because we have the attention spans of a five-year old at Disney World, it’s extraordinarily easy to find something else to watch once a show goes to a commercial break.

OK, between this post and the broadcast television post I think I’ve beaten the “television” horse to death.  I’ll move on in my next post!


Ad Types – Pros & Cons: Broadcast Television

January 22, 2010 1 comment

In my ongoing series Ad Types – Pros & Cons I provide simple, straight forward opinions about the advertising options businesses have at their disposal.  I began the series discussing the good, bad and the ugly aspects of advertising in traditional newspapers.  Now I’d like to dive into broadcast television!

Notice that I’m being very specific about saying broadcast television as opposed to just television.  That’s because there are, in my opinion, a whole different set of pros and cons for cable television advertising than there are for broadcast television.  I’ll get in to cable television advertising next time.

For now let’s concentrate on broadcast television.  If you’re not quite sure what I mean by broadcast television, it essentially means any television station that you can pull in to your television set without the need for paid services like cable, dish or satellite. Typically you don’t need to pay to receive stations like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox (among a few others).

On August 25, 1900 a gentleman by the name of Constantin Perskyi first coined the phrase “television” in a paper read at the International World Fair.  On August 26th someone figured out that businesses would pay to advertise on television! I’m kidding, or course.

Let’s face it, much to the chagrin of television station advertising account managers across the world, BROADCAST TELEVISION ADVERTISING IS NOT RIGHT FOR EVERY BUSINESS. Read on to help figure out if it’s right for your business:


  • Huge audience potential – If you are looking for a very broad base audience with a wide array of interests, broadcast television offers you the potential for big numbers when it comes to eyeballs seeing your message. So if your product or service is very general in nature or your target market is incredibly broad (like men and women 25-54) then you may want to consider broadcast television advertising. On a side note, if you’ve truly only broken down your ideal customer to men and women 25-54 you are going to be in a world of hurt!
  • News is king – Local news broadcasts are only shown on broadcast television channels. And there are large segments of the general population who are incredibly loyal to watching the local news. So an ad in the local news brings with it a certain credibility factor that is valuable. However, watch your target market.  If your target market is 22 year old women who like to to workout, they’re typically not watching the local news with any regularity.
  • Effectiveness – Using a video or other moving image in conjunction with auditory stimulus (spoken words or music) to promote your product or service is a highly effective way to get an audience to understand your message. Compared to newspaper advertising (visual only) and radio advertising (audio only), television advertising can be more effective than many other forms of advertising.


  • Advertising Cost – The cost of a single :30 second ad during primetime or during the local evening news broadcast can be significant. Now your Account Manager will divide that pricetag by the total number of estimated viewers to show you a really low cost per viewer but you must take that number with a grain of salt. How many of the 1000’s of viewers they tell you about are in your target market? That’s your true cost. If the station tells you they have 100,000 people watching every night and they want you to pay $500 per spot they’ll tell you “That’s just $.005 per viewer…yeah!” Hold it…how many of those 100,000 viewers are in your target market? 1,000 maybe? Now your effective cost per targeted viewer has jumped to $.50 each (a far cry from $.005). And I haven’t even touched on the concept of frequency yet!
  • Production Cost – Paying to air your commercial is one thing, but somebody’s got to produce the darn thing before it can be aired. Yes, the station will tell you they can produce a commercial for you for a few hundred dollars, but be careful. Not everyone has the creativity and equipment necessary to generate a compelling ad that zeroes in on your target message. You want people to remember your ad FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.  There’s a fine line between a compelling ad and a cocktail party joke!
  • Changing Viewing Habits – 50 years ago families got together in the living room around the TV and turned on the Ed Sullivan Show or some other show from one of five channels they got on their TV.  Now there are 100’s of channels to choose from, watching TV on the internet (with very limited commercial interuptions) and digital video recorders (DVR/Tivo). Television viewers can now watch TV on their schedule, not the networks. And, if given the choice, they will skip commercials.
  • Lack of Targetability – Broadcast television advertising is shotgun advertising, not sniper advertising. When you shoot a shotgun hundreds of little pellets get launched in the general direction of the target with the hopes that a few will hit and disable the target. Lots of wasted pellets without a guarantee of disabling the target. Snipers are about one bullet…one kill. No waste.

In summary broadcast television advertising can be a very effective channel for companies with the right product/service and a sizeable marketing budget. If you have a highly targeted product or service and you’re looking at a proposal asking you to spend 80% of your total marketing budget on broadcast television advertising beware!

Next time…radio advertising!!

Ad Types – Pros & Cons: Newspaper Advertising

January 11, 2010 1 comment

Over the next several weeks I’m going to be presenting a series of posts that identify the pros and cons of a number of different types of advertising.  The intention is to provide a base understanding of both the benefits and pitfalls of the particular advertising channel.

This series of posts is not necessarily meant for other marketing gurus.  It’s meant for the small business owner who spends 90 hours of the week working on their own product or service and who doesn’t have time to become a marketing guru.

Let’s get to it.

Newspaper advertising has been a staple in the marketing arsenal ever sense the first person to print a newspaper decided they needed a little help paying for all that paper. However, over the years there has been an erosion in the effectiveness and value an advertiser receives from newspaper advertising.  Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s so you can judge for yourself:


  • For those people who read one on a regular basis, a newspaper is a valuable and trusted source of both information and advertising messages.
  • Newspapers remain highly ranked when it comes to consumer attitudes toward advertising media.
  • Newspapers are very timely (you can change your ads daily if you’d like – although I wouldn’t recommend it).
  • Portability and comparability – very easy for readers to take along with them or compare one ad to another.
  • Very transactional – reasonable medium for specific transactional messaging as opposed to general branding messaging.


  • Readership erosion – according to the Newspaper Association of America 81% of adults in 1964 read a newspaper regularly, in 2007 that number was down to 48%.
  • Targetability – unless you want to pay a significantly higher rate for your ad, you do not have the ability to choose where your ad will run.  Nowadays marketing is all about your ability to target your message to your very specific prospects.  The last thing you need is your ad for a retirement annuity account to run next to the obituaries.
  • Cost – compared to some other advertising channels newspaper advertising can be very costly (and here’s the important part) to reach your target audience. Don’t be fooled when your new account-rep-of-the-week comes in and shows you sky-high circulation numbers or effective readership numbers.  Ask yourself of those 100,000 “readers” how many are actually in the market for your product? 1%? .5%? Now do the math. That $1000 ad doesn’t look so cheap now, does it?
  • Demographics – if you’re not targeting an older white audience…forget about it! Accoring to the Newspaper Association of America a whopping 77% of single copy buyers during the week are white (79% on Sunday). Actual subscribers are a staggering 89% white during the week and 88% on Sunday.

There you have it.  A few pro’s and con’s of newspaper advertising as I see them. There’s so much more that should come in to your buying decisions but I hope you use this information to help guide you in your decision process after that pesky newspaper account rep has left your office.  And remember that no one advertising channel is the end-all-be-all.  It’s the mix of channels that will determine the success or failure of a campaign.  That’s where having a true marketing professional on your team can really payoff.

Watch next time for my take on television advertising!

Don’t Go Into The Marketing Dead Zone

December 18, 2009 1 comment

Unless you are a retailer who’s counting on the Christmas season to mean the difference between eating filet mignon or ramen noodles you should avoid what I like to refer to as the Marketing Dead Zone.  It’s that period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages trying to convice them that there’s still room on the credit card for some battery operated pet or “must have” sweater.

For B2B businesses it’s no different.  In addition to all of the retail messages your clients are hearing day in and day out, they’re also deep in the heart of the end-of-year brain checkout period where grey matter turns to grey mush.  Decisions are almost all pushed off until “after the holidays”.

So that means all marketers get to take the month off, right?  WRONG!

Now is the time for marketers to do several very important tasks:

  • Evaluate – Take a look at all of the campaigns and marketing tasks you did this year and figure out which ones worked and which ones didn’t work.  If you’re worth your salt as a marketer you would have done this as the campaigns were happening; but take the time now to step back a little and analyze the success or failure within the context of the totality of your efforts this year.
  • Appreciate – Thank everyone who helped you get your job done this year.  Vendors, peers, customers, the cleaning lady, the IT guy, whoever was part of your success this year.
  • Manage Up – What a great time to remind your boss of all the accomplishments you had this year.  Don’t skip over some of the challenges you had; address them and tell your boss what your plan is to fix them.
  • Use Your Critical Eye – Think back on all of the interactions you had with your vendor partners this year. Are you comfortable with your relationship with them? Is it a mutually beneficial relationship? Is it time to re-evauate the relationship and make sure there isn’t someone else out there who can do what they do better or more cost effectively.  While the grass may not always be greener, it never hurts to check it out just to make sure!
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5 Ways to Maximize Your Use of Promotional Items

December 15, 2009 1 comment

Anyone who has been in business for any length of time can probably open up their kids’ toy boxes and find remnants of ineffective promotional item campaigns littered in amongst various army guy body parts or broken game pieces.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been walking through a tradeshow and heard the phrase “my kids will love it”.

The problem is you’re not selling to the kids.  The kids aren’t the ones you want to have top of mind awareness of your company.  So what good is that pen with the fuzzy cap going to do your business?

Here are five ideas for you to keep in mind when adding a promotional item to a marketing campaign:

  • Make It Memorable – The last thing you want to do is spend money on a promotional product that will be forgotten, or never even picked up.  You want your promotional product to get the people talking about you and your company.
  • Make It Unique – Go to any tradeshow and you can walk out with your fill of random pens, mousepads or stress balls.  Now there’s nothing wrong with those things, but of the 1000’s of variations of any one of those items look for the ones that will make people do a double take.  For example, instead of a stress ball how about looking at the variation that includes an elastic cord attached to the stress ball so now it’s a yo-yo stress ball.
  • Make It Part Of A Campaign – If you would like a superhero-like bobblehead to give away then build a campaign around the concept.  Create email blasts with the superhero theme.  Redesign your tradeshow booth with the superhero concept.  Change the voicemail system to sound like a superhero.  By reinforcing the concept across multiple communication channels you will strengthen your core message in your customer’s head.
  • Make It Relavent To Your Business – Would it make any sense for a CPA firm to give away a stuffed monkey? Well, not without a compelling message telling people why a monkey accurately represents a CPA firm.  How about a calculator?  Now that’s getting much closer to what you do and you probably don’t need a lot of explaining about why you’re giving out a calculator.
  • Give Them A Reason To Put It On Their Desk – What’s one goal for using promotional items? Help reinforce top of mind awareness of your company so they call you first when they need your product or service!  What better way to do that then have it on their desk everyday?  But be careful, a desk is someone’s personal space that is guarded very carefully.  They’re not going to put just any letter opener out there!

There you have it.  Five ways to maximize your use of promotional items.  If you have a promotional items campaign you need help with visit!

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Taming of a Tiger

Recently I commented on a LinkedIn discussion regarding Tiger Woods and a morality clause that may or may not be in his contracts with his sponsors.  Essentially I said that Tiger’s not the first (and certainly won’t be the last) celebrity endorser to taint their reputation with some elicit behavior.  My guess was that sponsors won’t start pulling out until it hurts them where it hurts the most…the checkbook.

Of course this was when there were only two other women.  Now there are 9 or 10 women coming out of the woodwork with some pretty unsavory allegations.  Plus, Gatorade has made it public that they supposedly pulled a Tiger Focus drink a couple months ago.  Hmmm, seems the old checkbook took a left jab.

Oh Tiger, if only you could put some of that legendary ability to focus on your next shot on your ability to keep the driver in your pants and away from pancake house fairways.

But what can marketers learn from this?  How about letting your product speak for itself without the need for someone else to say how great it is?  How about going back to the tried and true method of crafting and communicating a compelling message in new and innovative ways?  Nah…just get somebody famous to hold your product and it will sell!

You know what is the scary part of this whole episode?  While there are teams of people trying to figure out how to get out of their deals with Tiger, there are also teams of people who are trying to figure out how long they have to wait to jump right back on the bandwagon.

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Be a Marketing Mixologist

Many people are aware of the term “mixologist”.  Some people mistakenly think  it’s a synonym for “bartender”.  Not so!  A true mixologist is a bartender who tinkers and plays with the various elixers at their disposal to come up with the next Alabama Slammer, Sex On The Beach or Singapore Sling.

In a tight economy such as this, no – forget that – in ANY economy, business owners and marketing professionals need to become Marketing Mixologists.

Traditionally the Marketing Mix has consisted of the four P’sProduct (what are you selling), Price (how much are you selling it for), Place (where are you selling it) and Promotion (how are you telling people about it).  OK, so I’ve over simplified the definitions of the four P’s a little, but you get the point.  With that basic understanding of what a marketing mix is you can now start to tinker.

Some of the four P’s have more room to tinker than others.  For example, there may be a very limited number of things you can change about your particular widget to make it better or more competitive.  But the point is have you done everything you possibly can, looked at it from every angle, understood how you match up to your competitor down to the smallest detail.  Is there something about your product or service that you can tinker with to give yourself a competitive advantage?

Similarly, what can you look at from a price perspective?  And be careful here, I’m not just talking about lowering your price or cutting your margin.  Yes, that is certainly one solution to examine, but maybe there are other options.  If your widget or service is quite frankly the best widget or service in town why not charge a premium price?  Sometimes coming in at a higher price can set you apart from the muck of all the bottom feeders who have an inferior product or service.  You certainly make your messaging more challenging because you have to spend time explaining why you’re so much better, but it can be done.  Case in point…BOSE!

Place is another of the four P’s that has less tinkering room than the others.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no room to tweak things either.  For example, would it be more cost effective to regionalize your distribution rather than have it centralized?  Or vice versa?  Or maybe you can do like Walmart does and reduce your warehouse needs through more efficient “just in time” delivery methods.  Again, look at it from every angle to see if there are things you can tweak.

Finally, you have promotion.  Here’s your most stocked side of the marketing bar.  The promotion channels you have at your disposal are vast and diverse.  And make no mistake, I’m not just talking about the different ways you can advertise, I’m talking about all the ways you can communicate your message to your target audience.  Advertising just so happens to be one of those ways.  Beyond advertising you have event marketing, all of your sales and marketing collateral, the way you answer your phones, how your sales and support staff dresses when they’re out in the field, what your invoices look like, the interactivity of your website, and on and on and on.  Now start thinking about the combinations of all of those things that you should be considering and your head might just pop right off.

Hopefully you can understand that marketing is not just throwing an ad in the paper.  It is a science.  And if you don’t do it right you might just take a swig of that tequila/rum/lemonade/cherry juice concoction you just made and burn more that just your throat when it goes down!

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