From “PR Rules: The Playbook—The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Supersizing Your Small Business.” Available in April 2014
By Hope Katz Gibbs, with Kathleen McCarthy
PR Rules: The Playbook
Should you advertise on TV? Commercial production manager Erin Hood has been an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director at WJLA-TV ABC-7 & News Channel 8 in Washington, DC, since 2003.
Before you invest in TV ads, Hood insists:
- Understand the purpose of advertising. Your goal is to let people know your business exists. Advertising is essential to growth, and it shouldn’t be overlooked—even if your budget is small.
- Be confident and strategic. I have to admit that I’m a little biased toward TV, but I am convinced that all advertising works! It just takes time to see the results, and that can be tough for small-business owners struggling with where to get the best value for their dollars.
- Advertise your business where your potential customers are watching. Just because an ad seems affordable doesn’t necessarily make it so. It’s only affordable if it brings you more business.
- Don’t waste your money advertising to people who are already your customers. The point of advertising is to get new customers.
- Invest in high-quality, creative ads. The more professional your ad, the more likely it is that customers will take your company seriously.
- The more platforms you can span across, the bigger your campaign will appear, but please, don’t spread yourself too thin. In terms of TV ads especially, depth is more important than breadth.
To ensure you spend your advertising dollars wisely, follow these tips:
- Remember the Rule of 3s. Generally someone needs to see something three times to really process it … that can be three times in the same medium (such as TV), or three times across different media. For example: The new client got a direct mailer, saw your ad on TV, then happened to drive by your shop. Boom. That’s the magic number. If they need what you are selling, odds are good they’ll stop in and shop. If the customer service experience is a good one—you’ll have a new customer.
- Be smart about measuring your success. Of course, the advertiser needs to measure success—but this can be tricky. You have to give an ad campaign time to work. Think of advertising like pushing a giant snowball. The longer you push it, the more snow it will accumulate. Likewise, the more people you reach and the more times they see your ad, the more effective and successful your campaign will be. So pick a reasonable window of time to track your effectiveness (for example, year to year), and factor in possibilities such as a recession, a big shift in your business plan or staff, etc. If you sold more products or services this year than last—you’ll know the campaign is working.
- Ask questions. It’s critical to get as much information up front from your ad rep as you can before spending any money on ads. Specifically:
• Know how many people you’ll reach and what the cost is to reach each person
• Find out who the audience is (number of households, demographics, etc.) Decide if this audience is your ideal customer.
• Now, based on the cost to reach each customer, calculate how many sales you need to recoup what you’ve spent on ads.
- Know what makes a TV commercial successful. For most small businesses, a direct-response approach is best. Be sure to look professional, give people a reason to shop today (such as a sale or special offer), and try to appeal to the widest audience possible.
- Have a plan. For your business to succeed, you need an advertising plan and an advertising budget. It’s a new twist on an old saying. Instead of, “You gotta spend money to make money,” think of it as, “You gotta get new customers to make money.” Advertising is an investment in your business. Think it through before you spend your advertising dollars. Do your homework, study your finances, and invest wisely!
- Back up your ads with a beautiful website. Advertising is but one of the tools at your disposal that can help you increase the visibility of your company. The first step, as is clearly outlined in Step 1 of the 8 Steps to PR Success in the “PR Rules: The Playbook,” is to have a professional website! This is without question the most important thing any small business can do, because a customer who sees your ad on TV will want to check you out online. Whether you are a bricks-and-mortar company or not, your website is your storefront—and no one walks into a sketchy-looking store.
Learn more at www.wjla.com.