Gettin the word out
Any thoughts on advertising a video production service on local TV/cable? Rates are cheap ($5-10/:30). Been pounding on doors with minimal success. Networking wherever and whenever I can. I'm in a small town where businesses are given free production by the local media. Have done some weddings, business promos, dance recitals, even a commercial or two but not much else.
Maybe I should have listened to my mother and become an undertaker :}
Viola! I knew there was a reason in the early days that I wrote posts offline and saved them. Here's a post I wrote on this subject in April of 2001.
Let me be blunt. The biggest problem with broadcast advertising is that it is just that: broad. While virtually everyone watches TV, only a very, very, very small number of people watching TV buy TV advertising and TV production. Therein lies what I see as a problem. Advertising TV production on TV is an overly expensive and inefficient way to reach your target market. That said, may I offer an alternative?
Make VHS dubs (err... today let's make that DVDs) of your self promotion spot and select portions of your reel and direct mail it to a list of hand-selected advertisers in your market. Use some form of provocative teaser message on the box or tape label to improve the odds that your prospects will take the time to pop in the tape. Messages like:
What's the least expensive way to DOUBLE
the response you get from TV advertising?
- - -
Why are your TV spots not generating more sales?
- - -
Ten ways make your TV advertising more effective.
You get the idea. Tease them with something that both directly appeals to their self interest and arouses their curiosity. I prefer pre-printed box mailers for this sort of thing, but to save money and time you could get away with just the label.
Yes, this will take a lot more work than airing a spot, but it is, IMHO, much more likely to get results.
So there you go. As true 6+ years later as it was then. Just remember to make your pitch RELEVANT to the recipient.
I'll give it a shot.
For $5 to $10 a spot, budget a few hundred dollars and give it a shot. The catch 22 of marketing is that you have to promote your business to stay in business but the only way to know for sure what marketing strategies work is trial and error. What works for one video business in a particular market may not work for other businesses in other markets. The key is to BUDGET! If you can afford to lose a few hundred to try something, go for it. But don't risk a few hundred dollars if you don't have it in your budget.
I have the best success mixing civic marketing efforts, newsletters, networking meetings and being on the board of our chamber of commerce and rotary club. I have spent thousands of dollars on advertising over the years without much success but then again, I've heard other video business owners report excellent results with radio and direct mail campaigns.
If I could run a spot in my market for $5 to $10 per spot, I'd give it a whirl just to see what happened. The key though, as with any video we produce, is to tell a good story that makes your target market want to take action after the spot runs. Think about a marketing trail you would like your prospects to follow from the point they watch your commercial to when they sign a contract.
For instance, run a commercial that positions you as an expert in wedding videos (or whatever you want to promote). In the spot, tell them that they can download a free report on how to choose a wedding videographer on your website. You can track the success of your spot by how many downloads take place. The spot should also include your phone number and physical location if that is important.
In order for people to download your report, make them give you their email address and name. This way you'll have their information captured. Send them the report and follow up once per month or whenever with a newsletter of some sort.
Seems like a lot of work but it's necessary to have a total marketing system in place in order to get real benefits. One single tactic will rarely ever give you the results your looking for. You have to find a mix of tactics to use consistently on a regular basis.
Kristopher G. Simmons
Video Business Coach
Great advice, Kristopher,
I know it's a lot of trial and error and I have done some targeting with DVD's, as suggested by Nick and have used a lot of shoe leather and bruised knuckles knocking on doors but picking others' brains about this stuff helps a bunch, especially after one of those weeks that doesn't turn out as rosey as others.
Electronic media for weddings, parties and the like should be more rewarding than promoting corporate videos. I especially like your idea of sending them to my web site and getting their addresses.
Thanks again. And if you or anyone else care to chime in on other suggestions, I've got some aliens here in Roswell I'm trying to 'alien-ate' elsewhere :} Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope, er, jiffy bag and I'll fill 'er up!
The key is to BUDGET! HUH???
Sounds like a strategy for Las Vegas or maybe playing the lottery. Sure the odds are against you, but WTF, you might get lucky and win one. It happens. Sometimes. Just be sure to set your limit up front so that when the money is gone you know not to put any more in.
So that's the part of the "coach's" post with which I strongly disagree. There are two other areas which make some sense to me. IF you are selling a service that the general public might use, like wedding videos, casting a wide net (ie.- TV advertising) can work. But not just any TV buy.
If you're working with your local cable company don't buy the ROS (run of station is what this used to stand for) rotation for $5 a spot. That means your spots land all over the place - typically the places no one else has already paid a higher price to be.
While the third re-broadcast of Larry King at 4am MIGHT be seen by some prospective brides and their mothers it's nowhere near as effective as paying a higher price for spots to be placed only on the Lifetime and "O" channels. Narrow that to spots between noon to midnight and the degree to which you are targeting your audience increases again. Now buy your spots in "flights" so you can go after the times of the year when weddings are being planned. January and February are prime because so many proposals take place during the December holidays and so many people want June weddings. Hmm. Starting to sound a little less like roulette?
Where coach was right on the money is offering a "report" or other response reward. While it's value as a tracking tool is a bonus, that's not its primary function. What makes this effective is quite simply the fact that you're giving the prospect something of VALUE to her -- a tool for helping to make the decision.
Now take this logic back to OTHER types of prospects. For example the business owner / TV advertiser discussed in my earlier post. He's looking for what appeals to his or her self interest, too. "Ten ways make your TV advertising more effective." speaks directly to self interest. You just have to use the most appropriate vehicle for getting in front of him or her. And that my friend, is NOT general market TV. Even business-oriented TV is overly broad because what portion of business people are the actual DECISION MAKERS about advertising on TV or contracting for corporate video? It's likely a very small number. For the sake of this argument let's say it may be one or two in a hundred.
Now approach this from another direction. Develop a list of prospects, research them, determine the names of the decision makers and contact them directly with a mailer and/or DVD with message that appeals to their self interest. You've just gone from reaching one or two in a hundred to possibly one hundred in a hundred. You've also gone from something very passive -- a fleeting TV spot -- to a more active form of contact, preferably something your prospect will be able to hold onto.
Being in business is enough of a gamble. The way you market yourself doesn't have to be.
[Nick Griffin] "don't buy the ROS (run of station is what this used to stand for) rotation for $5 a spot. That means your spots land all over the place"
True, true...with one exception. When I ran a production company in the Florida Keys, our primary local audience was people who worked in the hospitality industry, from the highest management (people who owned multiple resorts) to the most challenged labor (people who worked in multiple bars or restaurants just to get by.)
As a result, absolutlely none of our most valuable target audience was available during prime time. Laborers were laboring, bosses were wining and dining the swells.
But because a work day might begin at 7 AM, 7 PM, or some other odd hour, ROS offered tremendous bang for the buck. The spots were all over the place just like our audience's schedule.
To go one step further, the most typical place for ROS spots to wind up is in the middle of the night, or other fringe slots. For me, this worked out just right.
For most markets, better to buy fewer spots in the slots your audience is most likely watching. Which is why companies pay millions for a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl -- a hundred million people are watching. So pick the channels and times your audience is watching. You could easily wind up spending less for a bigger result.
Which is why I strongly agree with Nick about TV buys: unless your audience lives in the margins of the schedule, you're going to have to buy a lot of ROS spots to see any ROI.
You like that? I just now thought of it. :-)
My only variation on Nick's other theme is that TV only works if your product or service is attractive to a broad, general audience. Video production rarely fits that bill. In our case we went for it anyway because we were using our video business as a stepping stone to other things....but that's another story. :-)
Thanks guys. I really appreciate the input and will 'take heed' so as not to cast my ROS's into the masses, expecting massive ROI's (may I quote you on that?) at the end of the rainbow...
One would think that spending as many years as a videot as I have, something would sink in. Apparently not, since yours, Nicks and 'MYOB's are tennants, tried and true. Following that train, I should, by now, be retired, playing 18 holes somewhere nice and have beverages on the 19th with friends of a similar ilk. It was somebody much smarter than me who said something about repeating history for being a dumb *** and not listening the first time...
Ahh well, I still love the business and will endevour to 'Keep on Keepin on' til that last production job calls me home and I can hang up my headphones....
Thanks again. You and all the other Cow-m'rads are terrific!
Oh, in case you didn't know, it's What's In It For Me :}
I would definitely agree with Nick here. I am not sure whether you are selling consumer services (like wedding video) or B2B (such as corporate video) but the approach is always the same. The trick to effective marketing, no matter what service or product you offer, is to AVOID scattershot, random "give it a try" type approaches. This will just spread your budget paper thin, and it defies a major rule of marketing which is to find a good niche and maintain a presence in that niche for a long, long time. People mostly react to marketing messages the 5th or 6th time they see it, and it is unlikely that, after a few hundred dollars in ad buys, your commercials will have been seen enough times by your target audience to have any impact on your sales. While not a rule, TV ads are traditionally more for companies in the branding phase of their business, which usually means they are a mature company with a decent amount of money in the bank, and are ready to go wide-net.
Experienced marketing pros will also tell you the time-tested approach is to identify your target audience first, draft a list of their demographics and interests, business segment etc. and approach them based on those findings. With B2B, a good start might be trade publications, web sites and trade shows, all related to THEIR line of business (not yours). While less glamorous than TV ads, you are putting yourself in front of them while they are thinking about their business and how to improve it, and providing a solution. You wouldn't put an ad for a giant hamburger in front of someone who just ate thanksgiving dinner, so why put a business related ad in front of someone who is finally home and tired of thinking about work? The same principal applies to wedding video. Putting ads in wedding-related publications, web sites etc. is hitting prospects while they are in the buying mindset, looking for what you offer and is targeted enough to ensure that your marketing dollars are not wasted.
And finally, a good price on a tv ad buy doesn't make it a good deal if the money is wasted. Unfortunately for a lot of businesses, TV has a strong appeal to the owner because they will get to see their name in lights. But once that "high" is gone (and your budget) the reality sets in - it was a waste of money because it was poorly targeted, poorly timed and it didn't last long enough to set in with what few prospects might have seen it.
[beenyweenies] "...a good price on a tv ad buy doesn't make it a good deal if the money is wasted. Unfortunately for a lot of businesses, TV has a strong appeal to the owner because they will get to see their name in lights. But once that "high" is gone (and your budget) the reality sets in - it was a waste of money because it was poorly targeted, poorly timed and it didn't last long enough to set in with what few prospects might have seen it."
A great observation and comment, Brendan. I know more than a few businesses that tried this thinking that it would make their company strong quickly. Unfortunately, it nearly always doesn't work and when the money's gone, the reality sets in.
It is far harder to assess a market, research the players and the needs, find a niche within it and put your focus and resources there. But in the end, if you have done it properly, it nearly always works -- whereas the road that looks easier nearly always doesn't.
Wasn't there a sunday school lesson or some old fairy tale to that affect?
Glad you found your way over here, Brendan. Thanks for your input here in the Business forum.
I'm sure there are plenty of tales based on the notion that a penny being sold for a quarter is a bad deal, even if it's marked down to a dime!
I didn't even know about this forum until today and was pleasantly surprised. I have a new lurk spot! You and Kathlyn are providing a great service to the creative community and I really appreciate it.
Lots of good, professional advice in response to your post. Now this is how my experience relates to a
You need to first identify your market and the demographics. What businesses are in town and how can you can help them by providing your services. What sort of people are targeted? Young , old, white collar, blue collar, poor, rich, etc. You can sell BMW's to low income people.
You have to identify your competition in what they currently offer and what they charge. Then try to sell your services to everyone by doing it better for the same cost or lower. You may have to do some things for free or cheap at first to gain a reputation with referrals to follow.
All avenues to advertise may benefit you. You have to try some out and see the results. There is TV, radio, print, door to door, networking in the community with events like church functions, etc. Have some brouchures, VHS and DVD demos and biz cards. Everytime you go somewhere, try to ease into a conversation that will open up the opportunity for you to give them information on who you are, what you can do an offer. Most importantly, how you can help them benefit and apprecciate gains in their business or life if they let you work for them. If they use yor competition, try to point out how you might be better and why.
In my business, I believe it's the face to face interaction with people that gets me my best accounts. I do a lot of cold calling. I explore ideas and then find clients that might be interested in them. I also go out and talk to ad and corporate people about what they are working on. Most won't see me but I know it's a numbers game and so I just go on to the next. I've gotten a number of clients this way and they are the ones that pay me best.
There really is no substitute for face time. It's rough but it's what separates those who ultimately succeed from those who don't.
Many thanks for all the inputs and suggestions. It's all the common sense stuff I learned, way back when, and promptly stopped using, either because I thought I knew it all, or, just forgot (we old f***s tend to do that more frequently than we used to...). In this small town, like many of the other small towns around, folks tend to hold their cash cards pretty close to their vests, hoping somebody's going to come along and say: "That's all right, I'll do it for FREE!" I recently produced a DVD of a dance recital and was able to just about break even by offering: "BUY TWO, GET ONE, FREE!" Course, by the time I bought all that ink, a duplicator, jewel cases and DVD's, plus two weeks worth of chasing them around for their checks and deliveries, well, you can guess where my profit margins went... I think I wrote earlier, the TV and cable stations are freebies in the production market as long as they buy, I think it's down to, a couple hundred in ROS time. Most of what is around here are oil guys, dairies and aliens (the little green kind from Uranus). Thought about setting up something for tourists whereby they are keyed over some kind of alien chase/war/abduction//// and have them walk away with a DVD. Logistics prevent that immediate turnaround and I don't think they'll want to wait, since, if you've seen one alien, you've seem 'em all...
Anyway, I've droned on long enough. Have the brochures, cards, demos, am doing the face time, follow ups, thank you cards following a meeting, spec spots, baby kissing (and other anatomy parts), car washing, valet parking at parties and the list goes on. Haven't done much schmoozing since drinks and dinner bills mount up faster and fatter than my waistline...
Come to think of it, being a friendly neighborhood undertaker doesn't sound half bad; I could produce one of those memorial pieces that are becoming all the rage nowdays, right?
undertakers don't have the client looking over their houlder while they work.
Thank Goodness! And I can let them down, and not vice versa!
Any better luck over the summer with moving the business forward?
Wow! What a treat to hear from you about this.
Unfortunately, I was forced to take a 'real' job cranking out spots at the local cable company but it helps keep the truck running and the light bill paid...
I'm still able to keep my 'night' job and am doing a quick project (as of this minute) for a new hospital in town.
Hoping for more like that and others :}
Thanks for your reply!
Not the worst fall-back position; don't give up your dreams.