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How to avoid the most glaring error in advertising.

by John Furgurson on April 5, 2016

Sometimes I just cringe when I see local TV commercials. Not because of the horrific script writing or the production quality. Not because of the poorly conceived value proposition, the ill-advised choice of “talent,” or the mind-numbing jingle.

No. I cringe because many of those companies don’t belong on television at all.

I’m talking about those cases where the medium – TV – does not match the demographic and psychographic profile of the prospects. In other words, the mistake of  “reaching” a lot of people, but not the right kind of people.

Here’s an example of a TV buying mis-match: There’s a retailer in my town that sells lavish, high-end patio furniture. It’s designer stuff. One chair costs more than my entire living room full of furniture. Guess what that business owner is doing for advertising? Filling his pipeline with poor prospects from a crummy TV campaign.

Talk about the wrong impression. His ads do not match his product line at all. People walk into the patio furniture showroom (lured, no doubt, by the fantastic jingle they heard on TV) take one look at the prices, and hightail it down to Costco or Walmart. One of the salespeople told me it’s not uncommon for them to actually cuss her out as they leave.

The ads might be generating foot traffic, but it’s the wrong kind of traffic.

Why would anyone continue to do that, year after year? It falls into the “epic fail” category of advertising 101. It’s insanity.

Here’s another example: There’s a company that offers jet charters for corporate and private use. If you own your own private island and want to sneak away to it for the weekend, you’re in luck. They’re literally selling to the jet set, and yet they’re advertising – on local TV – to Fred & Barney Rubble. It’s a total mis-match.

Think about it… The very best outcome the company could hope for is a steady stream of inquiries from people who can’t possibly afford the service. And sure enough, they’re getting a few calls…

Elderly woman on the phone“Well gee whiz, I didn’t think it’d be THAT much to fly to my cousin Ethel’s place outside of Winnemucca.”

Filling your sales pipeline with hopeless leads is a waste of money, and probably the worst advertising mistake you can make.

No matter how many spots they buy it’s not going to help sell jet charters. Better production value wouldn’t matter either. They could hire James Cameron to produce an epic, 10-million $ 30-second spot, and it still wouldn’t move the needle. It’d just create more phone calls from non-buyers.

Because the company is advertising where the prospects aren’t.

There are digital alternatives now that would deliver their video message much more efficiently than TV. Straight to people who have expressed interest in jet charters. And there are plenty of options that allow them to pay ONLY when qualified prospects actually view the ad.

Look, I am not a media buyer. I don’ t have the propensity for spreadsheets, number crunching and data analysis that’s required for that line of work. However, I know a basic, lousy media buy when I see one, and that is one of them. TV is not the answer in those two cases.

Just look at what the big boys are doing. The largest advertisers, and the most sophisticated media buying agencies, are shifting money away from TV and into digital. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, digital ad sales are expected to surpass all TV ad sales for the first time in 2016.

Here’s another one… I have a retail client in the golf industry.  The owner was recently buying $35,000 worth of TV spots from the local cable company and he wanted my opinion about his schedule. So I took a quick glance and saw, right off the bat, a whole bunch of time slots during daytime shows that “skew” heavily toward women.

How much golf equipment do you think women buy? How many golfers do you think are sitting around during the day watching “Psycho Coupon Horders?”

Again, it’s a mismatch. Why would you spend your money running ads that are geared toward affluent men, during daytime TV? It’s just not common sense.

If you’re in the position of reviewing media schedules like that, use your head.  Eliminate those time slots. Make the sales guy try again. It’s not rocket science.

And when those salespeople come knocking, always remember this: It’s demand-based selling that hinges entirely on their limited inventory. The popular shows are in high demand, and sell out easily. So the TV salespeople are left trying hard to sell the shows that are NOT in demand. The dogs. Sometimes I think they throw-in some dogs on the schedule just to see if you’re paying attention.

I’m not saying that all TV advertising is a waste of money. Not at all. With enough frequency,  the right product or service, and a well-honed message, you can do very well with local TV. If you have an airline that’s selling $49 round trip tickets to Disneyland, by all means! Buy a bunch of TV ads. Everyone wants to go to Disneyland.

But if you’re selling jet charters to Disneyland, don’t waste your time on TV spots.

Duh.

If you’d like a review of your current advertising program, I will assess your strategy, your messaging, your value proposition and the creative execution. So you’ll have a relevant, effective spot. I will also collaborate with a media buyer friend who can save you money on that side of the equation. In the end, you will get you fair, honest advice from pros who have been in the business for 30 years. The cost is based on the size of your budget, but rest assured… it’ll save you money in the long run. Call me. 541-815-0075.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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