gets the phone ringing and the orders coming in like lots of big
media advertising. Newspapers, TV, and major Internet sites reach
thousands, even millions, of potential customers around the clock.
Even with the breathtaking
development of the Internet, Television remains the king of media.
Almost 99% of North American homes have at least one television. The
average person watches TV seven hours each day. And people
consistently say they get most of their news and information from
television, especially local TV news.
TV advertising is also very
expensive. With prime-time 30 second commercials in medium-sized
cities costing several thousands dollars each, broadcast TV ads are
out of reach for most small and medium sized businesses. Mass appeal
television lacks the ability to closely target the audience. Even if
you can scrape together enough for a few TV commercials, much of your
investment can be wasted on thousands of people who aren't interested
in what you sell.
Cable TV provides a solution,
especially for small business. Cable TV ads tend to be dirt cheap,
even though their audience is huge. Over half of all American homes
subscribe to cable. Cable's subscribers watch more television and
have higher incomes. Cable also has the ability to send your
commercials to specific parts of town and neighborhoods.
LOW COST AND TARGETED
Many media experts are
recommending cable TV advertising to their clients. "Prime time
spots on broadcast TV cost $2,000 to $3,000 in this area. Prime time
cable spots go for $175," says Leslie Speidel, a media buyer in
Raleigh, North Carolina (www.TheMarketingCoach.com).
Commercials on cable systems in
the suburbs outside New York City are cheaper. Your 30 second spots
run on CNN and ESPN for $25. Nick goes for $20 and TNN, BET, and VH-1
are $15 per commercial. Expect to get better rates when you buy
packages of multiple spots.
Small town cable prices are even
lower. It is not unusual to buy commercials for $2 to $3 in a town of
While most of the commercials on
cable TV programs are national spots for major corporations, four to
six commercials per hour are made available to local advertisers. New
digital technology allows many cable systems to easily and accurately
schedule your commercials on specific channels to be seen in chosen
communities and neighborhoods. "This new digital capability is
great for placement purposes. The target is very focused. The
geographic area is as big or as small as you want," Speidel
points out. "Plus, the price of spots is affordable."
The ability to target specific
groups of viewers is one of cable's most important advantages. A
clothing store specializing in kids cloths can advertise on the
Family Channel. A pool maintenance service can put their spots on the
Weather Channel. In most cases, regular broadcast TV with more
general programming would be inefficient advertising for specialized
businesses like these. Take claims of big audiences with a grain of
salt. It's not the number of eyeballs watching but a carefully
targeted audience that gets results for your business.
PLACING YOUR ORDER AND
PRODUCING YOUR COMMERCIAL
Cable rates, like everything in
media, are highly negotiable. Some channels will cost more than
others. The zones you choose to send your spots to, the size of your
town, and the time of year will all have an influence on the spot
price you pay. Don't wait until the last minute to place your spots.
Plan weeks in advance. Placing your order early will ensure you get
the times and channels you want at a lower price.
Call the sales department of your
local cable operator. Find out spot rates and coverage areas. Take
some time to build your plan. Media sales people are good at devising
clever strategies to use your entire ad budget, so trust your own
instincts and stay in control of the process.
Getting your commercial produced
can be expensive and time consuming. A razzle-dazzle TV spot will
easily cost thousands to produce. Keep costs down by planning your
spot carefully. You won't want to make costly revisions while the
production crew is there with the hourly meter ticking. Look into
small one and two person TV production services popping up in many cities.
Dramatic commercials with actors
are best left to the networks. For a small business on a limited
budget they rarely work out and often look amateurish. Keep your
concept simple. Limit the number of locations. Budget time for
changing lighting and mics from shot to shot. Shoot outside to avoid
indoor lighting hassles.
THE FUTURE BRINGS MORE FEATURES
Cable is leading the way to a
digital future when "smart" TVs will be coupled with a
computer. Cable has the ability to transmit Internet web sites 33
times faster than a phone line. TCI Cable's @Home Internet service
paid almost $7 billion for Excite, one of the most popular sites on
the web. Cable TV is rushing to toward a high-tech future where your
TV, computer, and the Internet all work together to provide more
choices and better targeting for advertisers.
No matter how large or small your
ad budget, check out Cable TV. The power of television to demonstrate
your products and services is hard to beat. Low cost cable is a sure
winner for small business.