by Kevin Nunley
For some reason, a lot of beginning net entrepreneurs think that just because their business is Internet-based that all their advertising must be as well. However, with the recent explosion of dot-com commercials (just look at the Superbowl!), it has become apparent that television is a great medium for advertising your e-business.
Don’t let the horror stories about the expense of TV commercials deter you. With a little creativity, even a small business with a limited budget can afford to run an effective TV ad campaign.
PRODUCING YOUR AD
One of the most expensive parts of advertising on TV is getting your commercial produced. That average 30 second TV spot costs around $200,000 to produce. Of course, you can find far, far cheaper ways to get an affordable spot.
Your commercial should look professional. Any touch of amateurism will sink your spot from the beginning (unless the junk look is part of a gimmick that makes sense to viewers).
TV production equipment used to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Now anyone can own a digital video camera that gives a professional film look. The cost of these cameras is $1,500 or less making it possible for one person production houses to do work up to Hollywood standards.
Find out who does small-time, inexpensive TV production by checking your yellow pages, calling the creative director at a local ad agency, or contacting the production departments of TV stations in your area. Everyone in media knows everyone else and will be happy to give you the name of a friend that does low-cost work.
Forget expensive actors. Run video of your product or service in action and have a professional announcer read your copy. Check local radio stations for a DJ who has a pleasing voice and good delivery. Offer them $50 to read your 30 second copy.
PLACING YOUR AD
TV prices have been coming down for over a decade. There used to be just three network TV stations in your town. Now you likely have FOX, WB, UPN, several other independents, and a bevy of low power TV stations. You may have 100 more channels available on cable. You have a neighborhood video store stacked with choices…and digital video delivery is just around the corner.
With all those choices, audiences are split in much smaller groups. TV outlets can’t charge near as much for commercials as they did back in the old days. In lots of markets TV ad prices are lower than radio’s and far lower than the daily newspaper’s.
One place to get very effective and low-cost TV commercials is through your local public television station. It’s an option that most of us overlook, but some savvy marketers are using with great results.
Public television is dealing with big cuts in their funding. Federal funds, which have always formed a small part of their budget, are drying up and stations are having to look elsewhere for money to buy programs.
It used to be that a program sponsor only got a very short, basic promotional line at the beginning and end of the program. It had to go something like “This program made possible through a grant from Jim Bakery, where bread is always fresh.” Now the FCC has relaxed those requirements allowing pubic TV sponsorship lines look more like full-featured commercials.
Call your local public TV station and ask about their sponsorship policies and opportunities. Because the cost of your “ad” is seen as a donation, your promotional expense is tax deductible.
You also build awareness and goodwill in the community when you support public broadcasting. You can bet the movers and shakers in your town will notice. Public broadcasting’s audiences are well education and high income.
As a final piece of advice, remember that a TV station’s lowest prices probably aren’t published. You will have to call the sales manager at the station to get them. Expect far lower prices when your ads run outside prime time or in packages of multiple commercials.