Marketing Library

How to Advertise on TV on a Home-Based Budget.

by Kevin Nunley

Television is called "the King of Advertising," and for good reason. TV's ability to show your product or service in action is a powerful persuader for prospects.

Thousands of viewers can simultaneously see what a friendly, honest-looking person you are. They can see how your business will benefit their lives. You can also show them how to buy from you.

Television is simple, powerful, and everyone watches it. Studies show that the average household has the TV on an amazing seven to nine hours each day. It's not overstatement to say that television is the central most important media in many of yourprospects' lives.

That's exactly where the problem lies for the home-based business on a tight marketing budget. TV is in demand. Everyone wants it. And, as a result, TV advertising is expensive. Your local car dealer whose ads are always on the tube is probably spending several million dollars a year on TV.

But don't give up yet! With a little inside information, you may well be able to afford your own television commercials. And you can do it on a conservative budget that will make the well-heeled car dealer look like a wasteful fool.

TV ad rates have been coming down for years. With new TV networks popping up, many more cable channels, pay-per-view, and digital satellite delivery--increasing competition is forcing television ad managers to lower their rates. Some small business people are reporting TV spots as low as three dollars each.

Look for deals. Call your local television stations. Ask the sales manager for his or her lowest rates. You can get a price break for buying multiple spots in a "package." Haggle a bit. No spot price is set in stone. In broadcasting everything is negotiable.
You don't need the most expensive commercial slots in the evening news. Lower-rated, less high-profile programs may deliver plenty of viewers who are just the kind of customers you're looking for.

Some of the best bargains around are on cable TV. The prospect surfing through every channel on her TV is just as likely to run across your commercial on less-expensive cable shows as on pricey network sitcoms. Cable companies will sell you a package deal that includes commercial slots on a variety of channels. You could reach Dad on ESPN, the teen-aged son on MTV, and Grandpa on the Weather Channel.

More than a few businesses have started out on cable and got so much initial response that they canceled their other advertising. Odd, cheaply priced hours are OK too. People watch TV at any time of day or night.

Unlike radio commercials, which radio station's produce for free, television commercials can be very expensive to produce. Actors, multiple locations, and creative effects take time, people, and money. Time-wasters can drive your production costs through the roof. Save time and money by shooting without sound. You can "voice over" an announcer later.

Adjusting lights is another time-waster. Shoot everything in a TV studio where lights are already set up. Or--better yet--shoot outside with natural lighting. Reinforce your name, address, phone number, and slogan with computer produced graphics.
Independent television production houses may give you a better deal. A team of industrial video producers once let me produce tons of video for next to nothing. They did the work after hours when equipment wasn't normally being used.

Sometimes cable TV will accept commercials produced with lower, cheaper standards.
Plan everything well ahead of time. Leave nothing to chance. Solving problems on the set with the clock ticking is not a situation you want to be in.

Keep your message clear and simple. Creative, image-oriented commercials are better left to big businesses with mega-budgets. They can afford to run a commercial over and over before results are expected. You want immediate results.

Finally, there appear to be some be some major changes coming to the world of television. Washington is demanding that TV stations switch to digital broadcasting. Experts say this will be the biggest change in television in 50 years. Under a new system that is still being worked out, TV stations could split their single channel into six. If TV managers are busy providing programming and commercials for one channel, they are positively bewildered at the prospect of six channels.

And it doesn't stop there. With new digital technology, cable television in major cities will have 100 channels by next year, and 500 channels within two years! Who will be on television? EVERYONE!

I predict that the coming multi-channeling of television will drop commercial rates ever lower. It will bring unprecedented opportunity to small business people.

Take time to research TV in your town. Find out what options are available to you and keep an eye on how those options will be changing in the months ahead. You may want to have your home-based business on the TV bonanza train when it leaves the station.


Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations.

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