Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘TV

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.

Let’s talk about me

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wordofmouthLet’s say I’m your ad agency. You hire to me to create compelling messages that talk about how great you are, how you deliver more (service, value, expertise, whatever) than your competition. And then we channel that message into all the right places for you to reach new customers. Finally, we repeat that message enough to cut through the clutter and reach into the consciousness of the audience.

Success? Likely, yes. But then what? It’s one thing to toot your own horn. It’s quite another to have someone do that for you. When interviewing for a job, you get the chance to talk all about how great you are. If you’re then a serious candidate, then the employer’s going to want to talk to others that know you.

If you’re bidding on new work, your prospect will likely want to know what you’ve done in the past. Then they’re going to want to talk to people you’ve done work for.

Third party information about you carries a lot of weight and credibility. When conducting B2C business, why not put that power to work as well?

How? Testimonials. Get others to talk about you.

I’ve done it successfully in TV commercials, in radio spots, in print collateral, and even in my own personal online bio (check out my LinkedIn page).

In the past, you’ve heard me suggest that you should talk to your customers. It’s vital to know what they think of you. If you’re doing your job well, then it’s likely you will have no shortage of people wanting to sing your praises. Get them to write something. Ask them if they’d be willing to be on camera or in front of a microphone.

It’s the closest thing you can get to buying word-of-mouth advertising.

Written by Jeff York

April 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

Breaking the rules

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the_thinkerIf you’re in marketing, you probably have a good sense of what you think works well for your clients. In college, I had a professor tell me that the client’s name should be mentioned a minimum of 3 times in a TV spot. David Ogilvy once professed that we should be selling in frame one and don’t stop until the message is done.

These “hard and fast” rules may not apply for every spot or every situation. How often do you see a TV spot on air that doesn’t let you know the client or product being pitched until into the spot?

Today, the fad seems to be to tell the viewer that you can relate to their predicament, spend time talking about how they’ve been around forever and will continue to be, and only at the end do we know who “they” are. One of the best examples of this type of advertising concept might be from Allstate Insurance. If you’ve seen their recent ads, then you know the actor Dennis Haysbert is their spokesman. If you can get past thinking he’s either Jonas Blane (“The Unit”) or David Palmer (“24”), then once he’s on your screen, you know you’re watching an Allstate ad. What if you don’t? As you’re watching the spot, he’s not talking about insurance products or coverage. He’s talking about you and your family. He’s talking about the economy. Only well into the spot does he start to tie the company to the conversation.

Clever and masterful. But yet, if the copywriters at the agency were in my copywriting class in college, they would have gotten an ‘F’. This isn’t so much an indictment on my school as it is illustrative of how school is the time to learn the rules. The real world is the time to learn how to break them properly.

What are your “hard and fast” rules when developing your marketing messages? When is it appropriate to break them?

Written by Jeff York

March 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

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

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

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 6: Outdoor

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Your name should be in lights.

Of course, by that I mean, your business name should be spread across yard after yard of billboard space where hundreds of people traveling about 65 miles per hour can glance at it for a total of about 2 seconds…if they bother to look up at all.

Then there’s the bus. Ever thought about putting your logo on that smelly crosstown bus that drives the same route everyday driving by the same people day after day? Or what about on the bus stand itself.

How about the side of a blimp? Or a panel truck? Or a cab top?

There are so many ways to buy outdoor, many of which you might not even heard of, that you could go crazy trying to examine them all. You can rent a cycling team to drive through downtown areas carrying a flag with your logo. You can rent street crews to give out flyers. How about buying the top of pizza boxes from a popular pizza restaurant?

Really, the question is who are you trying to reach? Which do you think is more effective, flying your banner behind a biplane over the 50,000 in attendance at game 4 of the World Series or the millions watching on TV? Are you trying to reach the one person walking down the street coincidentally at the same time a truck or van with your logo goes by, or the thousands that are reading the newspaper at the same time?

Hitting scores of people at once is always inferior to hitting thousands at once. After all, the whole idea of mass media messaging is to reach your potential new customers in a memorable way. Like sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people you hit, the better the chance those people are looking for your goods or services.

It’s been my experience that outdoor advertising is the definition of clutter. Like a bad TV ad, it’s just part of our daily environment and our brains have been trained and conditioned to tune it out. I’ve never really considered outdoor as a viable cornerstone to a marketing campaign nor have I recommended it to my clients. However, there are a substantial number of companies that specialize in outdoor advertising. They must be successful for a reason. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any experience in outdoor advertising. What’s worked for you? How have you cut through the clutter and done something that’s memorable? Was it part of a bigger campaign or was it your campaign? What would you recommend to others that are considering the same avenue?

Written by Jeff York

May 25, 2008 at 1:08 am