Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘television

It’s time to get horizontal

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product2This blog has been chock full of ideas and concepts on how you can increase awareness of your product. We’ve talked about on-air advertising (television and radio), print, outdoor, Internet, direct response, economic challenges, the power of social media, and Guerilla Marketing. We’ve even talked about co-op advertising. This week, we’re going to explore the idea behind horizontal marketing.

Let’s say you make…oh, I don’t know…in keeping with the horizontal theme: mattresses. You want to increase the awareness of your product so you know you have to advertise. The problem is your particular product isn’t something that people can easily browse in a store like a candy bar or shirts. Your product has to be a destination for a shopper in order for a potential customer to lay hands on it. Beyond traditional media buys and storewide sales events, what else can you do?

Similar to the concept I forwarded with co-op advertising, are there interconnected businesses that you have a relationship with where you can co-promote together? For example, maybe there is a home improvement store or a bed sheet manufacturer where you can build a partnership. With the purchase of a mattress, you get a set of bet sheets or a gift card to a home improvement store to further improve your bedroom. Then in buying the traditional media, you can split costs with your partner thereby lowering your advertising costs.

If you own a mattress store, it’s smart to think vertically and split ad costs with mattress manufacturers, but there are endless possibilities horizontally as well, all of which can lower your marketing costs and increase your exposure.

Say that again…and again

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shouting1Having an on-target message is only part of the formula you need for a successful marketing campaign. What good is a solid, well-crafted message if no one hears it? Putting it into the right channels (tv, radio, etc.) to reach the right demographic is crucial. But if you ever have the chance to talk shop with a media buyer, you will hear them talk about reach and frequency.

Reach is putting the right message into the right channel to reach the desired people. If you’re a mom-and-pop business with a small local hardware store, do you really need to spend the money reaching across the entire state or will a local campaign be more effective?

What I wanted to talk about this week is the importance of frequency. It is often the most neglected part of the media buy. Failure in mass media marketing often comes at the hands of well-intentioned, but inexperienced media reps that overestimate an advertiser’s goals or budget.

The narrative often starts with a sales rep that makes a living from selling one form of media and one single channel (one group of radio stations, one newspaper, one tv channel, etc.) and a neophyte business owner. They have been trained and know the power of their particular offering. They have a meeting with a business owner who is looking to grow their business. They may not need to buy the entire coverage area that the sales reps offers, but that’s all the rep can offer. The campaign starts, it’s more expensive than the business owner needs (the business owner is paying a premium for reach without any benefit from it) and pulls the plug on the whole program early, thereby ending all frequency. Even in the areas where the message would have had effect, the ending of the campaign early ends all chance of success.

In today’s ultra-saturated media world, you have to reach your desired audience over and over again just to start to penetrate the clutter. It’s not enough to state your message and disappear. You have to repeat it over and over again. Say it enough times, and people start to recall your message on their own. Say it enough times in a respectable medium and it will have legitimacy.

Say it enough times and it will be effective.

Where did you see that?

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blog_tv3If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have a certain affinity for technology. I have a few iPods (one for the car, one by the bed for trying to sleep, one with a dead battery that I use when taking a shower, just sold my wife’s on eBay, my son has one for getting to sleep). I have a couple of TiVos (had 3, gave one away). I have slightly more than the normal number of computers kicking around the house.

And I have an AppleTV.

Kicking back on the couch after a long hard day in the salt mines, I’m finding the current state of broadcast TV to be quite lacking. Thanks to my wife’s “Thumbs Up-ing” of nearly every cooking show on the Food Network, the TiVo suggestion list allows me a diverse selection of content such as what to make for an appetizer, what to make for main course, and what to make for dessert.

Enter AppleTV.

With the wealth of content on the web, there’s just not enough hours in the day to sit and watch even a fraction of it. If you’re like me, you like to learn. It might be history, a new skill, or something completely foreign to me, I’m open for the new experience.

But who wants to chain themselves to their computer screen at the end of the day? I just spent about 8 daytime hours in front of one. Besides, in front of my very comfy couch is a nice Sony LCD TV. I’d rather be there.

Lately, I’ve been tapping my AppleTV. There are a large number of video podcast producers out there (some even in HD) just waiting to serve episodes up to your nice big TV.

TiVo now has capacities beyond stopping live TV and recording content for a later viewing. You can get TiVo exclusive content pushed to your TiVo through a free subscription. You can connect to your unlimited Netflix account. You can even watch YouTube videos.

Another downtime that I’ve been beefing up productivity with is what I like to call “windshield time.” Any time I’m behind the wheel, I’m a captive audience. There’s really nothing I can do beyond drive and maybe listen to the radio, right? Wrong! As I Twittered this past week, probably the coolest thing you’re not participating in is iTunesU. Through the iTunes Store, major educations institutions are offering free content. Just download, push to your iPod, and drive to work. Learn while you drive. Whoda thunk it?

Start thinking beyond traditional media for your content delivery. You’ll be surprised and just what’s out there waiting for you to discover it.

Note: I have not received any compensation from Apple, TiVo, or anyone else. But I’d like to…

Written by Jeff York

March 1, 2009 at 12:19 am

Huddling the family around the Netflix box

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home_content_box1Remember gathering the family together to sit by the old radio and listening to Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Adventures of the Thin Man, and Fibber McGee & Molly? Of course not. You’re likely too young. Most of that generation is gone.

TV burst onto the screen and as a society and we still participated in that new medium as a family unit. With only a few choices to select from (and many shows ported over from radio), prime time meant prime family time.

Enter cable with the ability to deliver a myriad of programming choices. Now seeking particular demographics became feasible. Audiences fractured. Broadcast, still dominant, sees its numbers dwindle to the point that it may be impossible to top M*A*S*H’s finale even with a Superbowl broadcast.

With the further splintering effects of a society that operates at a quicker pace, family activities prevented a coming together like we had seen in the past. Even the evening dinner came a casualty.

Enter today’s economic predicament. Shaky income situations leads to reassessment of free time and differing choices on what we spend money on. The bottom line, as I wrote about before, does it have value?

At the same time is the development of IP delivered content. Through vehicles such as iTunes, Hulu, and TiVo, we can get the content we want when we want it. And with the ability to connect devices to the big screen TVs we now have in our living rooms, we’re not confined trying to watch the content on a small iPod screen or sitting at our desktop computer. We can now sit down and watch the content where it was meant to be consumed.

So, I pose this question in hopes that it sparks a conversation; if we aren’t going out as much and re-assessing how we’re spending money, does that not invite a return to the days of quality family time? If we’re able to receive content according to both our tastes and time schedules via The Netflix Player or Apple TV, could we not begin to see the opportunity as advertisers of reaching large, demographically heterogeneous audiences again?

Tell me your name

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df07_12_18_javaOnce upon a time, there lived a coffee brand. The ad agency for the coffee brand created a tagline for that brand that integrated the name of the product into the message.

Fill it to the rim with __________.

Unless you’re pretty young, you know exactly what the product is. Here’s a few more.

___________, take me away.

Please don’t squeeze the ___________.

Seemingly since the 80’s, there’s been a movement toward non-identifying taglines:

Just do it…It’s the real thing…Think different. Three exceptionally strong brands without indentification. Which is better? I don’t know if there is one right answer, but I’d love to hear your feedback on that.

As the (former) Creative Services Director for a FOX affiliate, I created the station’s tagline: Your FOX Station. I really didn’t care if people knew FOX 44. All I needed to achieve was people to know that they were watching the (only) FOX affiliate in the market and remember it long enough to write it in their ratings diary. When I did research before launching that tagline, I was shocked to see how many FOX affiliates were employing the same strategy. None.

In creating a tagline for your company, I suggest bucking the trend. Integrate your name or trigger into the brand. That way your messaging refinforces your brand.

What are you doing now for your tagline? What research did you conduct before launching the message? Do you have any lessons that you learned that you can share with us?

Written by Jeff York

January 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Does it have value?

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smartcarChristmas is right around the corner and the economy is still struggling. For all the reasons that we’re all now well aware of, banks and certain manufacturing sectors are on the brink of collapse. With continual bad news bombarding us throughout the 24/7 news cycle, you would think that everyone has cut up their credit cards and stashed all their money into their mattresses.

Yet, dig through doom and gloom stories and read the fine print. People are still spending money. What’s changed is the amount and the rational behind each purchase. What’s the driving force?

Value.

People aren’t spending money on new cars. People are spending money to keep their current cars on the road. People aren’t spending money on new houses. People are spending money on fixing up their current home and making it their castle. People aren’t spending money on vacations. People are spending money on high definition TVs and surround sound systems.

Why? People see value in these types of purchases. Keeping your current car on the road is cheaper in the long run than simply buying a new car when facing a big repair bill. Fixing up your home today makes your home more livable today and more valuable tomorrow. Vacations are nights out on the town are great, but night’s in with a nice TV and a sound system that rivals the theater is cheaper in the long run (really, how much is microwave popcorn?).

But you’re a business owner. How do you take advantage of this shift in thinking?

Simple. How do you project value of your goods and services to the customer? If you’re thinking about packing in your marketing efforts because of the economy causes you to believe that you can’t make money, then you’re examining your marketing efforts from the wrong angle. Talking about how your goods/services are cheaper doesn’t mean value. Today’s consumer is happy to spend more today for something that will perfectly suit their needs and last a long time.

Here’s an example. When gas broke the $4/gallon mark, you might have thought that owning a Smart Car dealership would be like printing money. Here’s a street legal car that drove forever between fill-ups. Once the initial wow-factor wore off, people took a good look at the car. It is an impractical two-seater with just enough room for the driver and his lunch. Consequently, it’s been months since I’ve seen one on the road. No value.

Focus on the value you offer your customers. Play up what’s in it for them. And keep marketing. The pie is smaller. If you want the same amount of income, you have a take a bigger slice of the smaller pie. That means taking from your competition. How do you do that? Smart Marketing.

Find a cheering section

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Yea you!p1_auburncheer

Let’s be honest, everyone has an ego. And that ego likes to be stroked from time to time. That ego also gets bruised from time to time as well. What do you do when these times present themselves?

Your spouse can only do so much. After all, it’s possible but unlikely that they are in your field. They probably don’t know all the nuances of your stories. As much as I tell people that my wife knows more about the business of television than any other banker in history, she still only gets my stories so far. But when I’m facing certain decisions, she can only help so far. Where else can one turn?

You’ve probably heard that it’s wise to be cultivating your business and career relationships all the time, not just when you’re in the job market. This is true, but it also has other positive consequences. By maintaining a solid Rolodex of contacts and keeping in contact, you have a first level of business peers that have a genuine interest in you and your success. They have likely to have a perspective that you can tap into when needed. It’s also a great two-way street. They will look for your help and guidance when they are challenged. You can celebrate their victories with them. And at the same time, they will genuinely went to celebrate your victories.

Are you keeping in touch with the good people you like and respect from your business past? Have you lost touch with people that you miss? Why wait to make a New Year’s Resolution to be better about it? It’s likely they want to hear from you…today. Do it.

Now I’m an advertiser. What does that mean?

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This past week, I was talking with a friend whom also happens to own her own business.  Recently, she’s been thinking about putting spots on TV which she’s never done before.  One of the questions she asked me was how will that make her look.  Does being on TV make a business look “desperate?”

This is actually a very viable question and one I’ve never really considered before.  Within her business peers and competitors, she was concerned that this would impact how they would view her.  In her line of business, how she appears among her peers is important.

If she has a commercial created and puts it on the air, what does that say about her business?  What does that say about her?

Advertising means telling as large an audience as possible about you and your business.  It’s a very effective way to establish your brand and to create points of differentiation in the minds of potential customers.  Advertising means that you believe in your business enough to put marketing dollars behind it.  Since no business has 100% market share in their segment, every business can increase sales with smart marketing.

All of that said, the key has to be smart marketing.  It starts with the message.  Is it right for the medium you plan to use?  Does it exactly match the image of your business you want to portray?  If not, then you can actually damage your business by releasing that message into the public.

Let’s say you now have a perfectly crafted mass media message that will cut through the clutter.  The job is only half done.  Next is finding the right medium for delivering the message.  As I stated in my series of posts on the various mediums, there are a wide range of media to use for delivering your message:  television, radio, newspapers, Internet, direct mail, and outdoor.  Deciding which to use requires thought as to what type of audience you want to reach, the message you want to convey, and budget.  Then you have to make sure that your placement within that media works for you as well.  Is your print ad buried in the paper or did you get a good placement?  Did the TV station sell you ROS (run of schedule) and then put your spot in Jerry Springer?  Did the radio station give you first spot in break or bury you in the middle of the break?

It’s vital that you talk with a good media buyer before committing to a media plan.  Speaking with a rep from a media company will only give you the perspective of why you should advertise only on their station.  Once you’ve purchased a plan from them and started to establish yourself as an advertiser, then good reps will start to have an eye out for you on other media…and you better still be buying time/space with them.  Media buying firms have the whole picture in mind and generally can secure better rates than you can on your own.  They make their money from ad agency commissions that media companies give for placing buys with them.  If you place the buy directly, the media company keeps that commission for themselves.

The bottom line is advertising is good for your business.  If your competition is already advertising, then by not doing so you will start to lose market share.  If they are not, then you immediately place yourself above them in the public’s mind and will start to reap the benefits shortly.  You should know that by putting yourself out there as an advertiser, you should expect that other media reps will start to call on you.  It’s wise to find a good media partner (buyer or ad agency) that you are comfortable with and are confident that they have your best intentions in mind.

Advertising Media – Part 5: Direct Mail

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Have you ever responded to a piece of junk mail?  The chances are that you have.  Not often, but once someone sent you a flyer, an ad within a weekly circular, or some other postcard type piece of snail mail that just happened to be what you needed at exactly the time that you needed it.  Maybe you received a coupon for a new pizza place that you wanted to try out.  Maybe, like me, you received a postcard for a tree removal place at just the same time that you’ve spied a dead tree in your yard that could take out your kitchen during a strong storm.  It’s likely you’ve acted on a piece of direct mail advertisement at some point in your life.

Now, just for a minute, think about all the times that you’ve received junk mail in your life.  Compare that to the number of times you found a piece useful.  Not a very good rate of return, is it?  Care to guess the national average rate of return on direct mailings?  0.5%.  One response out of every 200 mailings.  Is that good?  Yes and no.

When I was the Creative Services Director of a pair of TV stations in Vermont, our lifeblood was the Nielsen ratings system.  In this rating system, receiving 1 rating point meant that 1% of the TV households in your market was turned into your station watching a particular program.  Even that’s not entire accurate.  The ratings books published only whole numbers which Nielsen would round up after reaching .5.  Therefore, buying a commercial in a show that had a 1 rating point in our market at the time meant that you were reaching at least 1640 TV households.  To achieve the same rate of response as direct mail, that means you would have converted 8.2 new customers.

Sounds good so far, but you have to consider reach.  To figure out if direct mail might be good for you, you have to consider the cost of sending direct mail to 1640 households versus the cost of a spot that airs in a show that receives a 1 rating point.  Expand it out.  How much to send out 5 times that number in direct mailings versus a 5 rating point show?

If the numbers start to work for you, you also should be considering the base differences in the media.  With TV, you can use the senses of sight and sound to build your message, but by virtue of the medium, the message is transitory.  With direct mail, it’s a print piece.  It’s sight only.  But the message is persistant until that time when some decides to turn your message into recycling…which might be immediately.

For my clients, I’m willing to talk to them about direct mail as an option.  I think when done well and targeted properly with a well generated mailing list, it can be more effective than a print ad placed in a newspaper, but it’s still considered low-brow advertising.  Direct mail is to advertising as puns are to comedy.

Have you had experience in direct mail?  If so, what has been your rate of response?  Is this form of marketing something you’ve considered for your company?

Written by Jeff York

May 18, 2008 at 1:14 am

Advertising Media – Part 2: Radio

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My multi-part series in advertising mediums continues this week with radio.

An older medium than television, radio is more predominant in people’s lives than they might suspect. Television offers advertisers a single daily opportunity to reach maximum audience numbers during Prime Time. Radio offers two, but only Monday through Friday. These periods are called Drive Time and represent when people are typically using radio: driving to work in the morning and from work in the afternoon/evening. During these drive time periods, advertisers can reach a large audience across many demographics by focusing their buys and maximizing promotional and/or contesting opportunities.

Outside of drive times, the demographic that uses radio changes substantially. Some people are lucky enough to be able to listen to the radio while they are at work and we are sometimes exposed to radio while in public shopping areas. However, the bulk of radio users outside of drive times are either retirees or teens. If you get the chance to read audience trend information, you will find radio formats such as oldies, talk, and top 40 will hold an audience all day long while other formats have their strong spikes during their drive times and holes elsewhere.

While the demographic composition of a television station will vary by show, in radio the “show” is the format programmed by the station. Therefore 24 hours a day/7 days a week, you can predict what kind of demographic is listening to a radio station. Exceptions might include college radio where formats change every 3 hours or so depending on the student DJ or speciality programming such as “Breakfast with the Beatles” weekend mornings on a station not typically running classic rock/oldies or the odd Jazz programming block.

One of the biggest challenges to successfully buying mass media advertising is finding a way to cut through the clutter and finding the ear of an attentive audience. Radio faces the same clutter issues (including Clear Channel despite their ill-advised Less is More initative), but also must contend with a more transitory audience than television does. The length of a show on television is 30 minutes for sitcom, 60 minutes for drama. In radio, the length of a show is only the length of a song. People are more in tune with changing between stations sooner than they are with TV.

Additional issues with constructing an effect radio message include being bound to only having access to the aural senses. Unlike television where producers can create compelling visuals to go with the audio, radio spot producers must rely in the listeners creating visuals in their mind’s eye.

It’s been my experience that purchasing radio is best done in concert with a strong television campaign. Radio can do an excellent job of reinforcing a branding message that was otherwise started. Should an advertiser be restricted to radio only, they would be well advised to talk to their local radio sales rep about finding ways of integrating their advertising messaging with DJ content and making it part of song wrap-arounds as much as possible rather than letting a traffic manager drop their spot in the middle of an extended break.

I hope this short insight into radio buying proves to be helpful to you. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have about your personal experiences in buying radio and what’s worked for you. Of course, if you need help with radio or any other kind of media buy, please give my company a call.

Written by Jeff York

April 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm