Where’s the beef?” Do any images spring to mind when you hear that phrase? Are you craving a burger and maybe a call to Grandma? Although you may not be able to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, chances are you haven’t forgotten those few, short words, indelibly imprinted onto your brain over a decade ago. Ahhh, the power of television advertising.
But what kind of television advertising is the most powerful? Over the last decade, cable television has steadily increased in popularity among total viewers. The 1999-2000 television season attracted 68.1% of total viewers during primetime, according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, Cable TV Facts 2001. While broadcast television has been an ideal medium in the past, cable is emerging as the newest advertising choice for local businesses.
A look at cable advertising vs. broadcast will be discussed in more detail, but first let’s look at the type of commercial choices available to the local business. Depending on your specific needs, there are three commercial options: video, film or syndication.
Like all of the available choices, a commercial shot on video offers advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, video can be relatively low-cost. Average prices range anywhere from $200-$5,000. To get started, your best bet is to contact your local cable company. Usually the cable company will have someone on staff who can shoot your commercial. If not, they can usually refer you to a local production facility.
Another plus to video is your ability to choose how you want to market your practice. Do you want to be in your commercial? You will be directly involved with the production process, so your options are open as to how you decide to advertise.
Unfortunately, the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to video. In other words, the cost is relatively inexpensive, and that will be reflected in the quality. A local cable company’s main goal is to fill airtime slots, so the cable company may take a bare-bones approach to the production of your video. The cable company is often restricted by budget, inferior facilities, and limited equipment and cannot provide you with the luxuries of professional lighting, sound or actors. The result may be a commercial that is immediately recognized as a locally produced spot.
Film, on the other hand, provides the professional look that benefits your business. All national commercials are shot on 35mm film. If you choose to use film, you will need to contact an advertising agency. There you will be provided with professional writers, directors, and lighting and sound engineers.
Film has the ability to capture people’s attention in a positive way. Because of the quality look that film can lend to commercials, your clinic is immediately set apart as a business that cares about professionalism and one that delivers high-quality services.
Remember, once you begin to advertise on television, you are not just competing against other chiropractors; you are competing against a standard people are accustomed to seeing. In other words, your competition is the quality found in a Nike commercial. Your goal: Appeal to the most astute channel surfer.
Commercials shot on film are an excellent tool for any business. Unfortunately, the big disadvantage of using this type of commercial is its high cost. Typically, one commercial shot on film could cost about $50,000, which is usually not feasible for the local business. Even if a small business does have the money to invest in film, most likely it will be limited to shooting one commercial, which doesn’t provide much flexibility in a marketing campaign.
At this point, television advertising may sound like a no-win situation. You have to either sacrifice quality or shell out a lot of money.
However, there is a third option available for community-based businesses requiring low-cost, high-quality marketing tools: syndicated commercials.
Syndicated commercials give local business the ability to use an effective, high-quality marketing campaign without breaking the bank. A syndicated commercial works like this: Production companies create national-quality commercials shot on film and offer them on a market-by-market basis to businesses around the country. A local business can then purchase a national-level campaign for a fraction of the production cost.
What the top syndicated media companies do is professionally script and film commercials designed exclusively for local businesses such as chiropractors. They create packages of commercials and license them to one chiropractor per market across the country.
If you decide this is a route you would like to explore, you should make sure you have exclusive rights to your commercials for at least a year. Make sure the company you work with sells on a market-by-market basis to only one client per specified area.
Syndicated commercials can be customized with the local business’ logo and information, and a professional audio tag can be inserted. The result: Viewers see national-looking commercials produced by a local business.
One disadvantage to using syndicated commercials is that they are pre-produced. Purchasing a commercial package of pre-produced spots means you have no input in the development of the commercials. If you are happy with what you see, however, pre-produced commercials will work to your advantage.
Branding Your Business
In the advertising industry, it is standard for agencies to design a 12- to 13-month timeline to brand a client’s image. Branding means your name will be the one people remember when they think of chiropractic care. By airing a variety of commercials throughout the course of a year, you can appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. Different commercials appeal to different demographics. Commercial variety combined with consistent airing will increase your chances for success.
Once you have decided what type of commercials you would like to air, you’ll need to choose between advertising on cable or broadcast television. There are many important elements to consider when making your choice. One concept to understand is “reach vs. frequency.”
Broadcast television can reach up to 14 counties. This means you will reach a vast number of people in your region. This is effective if you have multiple practices and need to connect with a larger area.
Cable advertising offers a more concentrated reach. Chiropractors tend to have businesses that are very localized, with most patients coming from a 10- to 15-mile radius. Cable allows you to concentrate directly on that 10- to 15-mile area. Advertising on broadcast is much more expensive, so if you only have a single practice, why invest money to reach people five counties away who will probably never drive that far to see you, anyhow?
Frequency is how many times a spot is aired. Statistics show that it takes seven times for a viewer to remember your message. This means it is important to consistently air your commercial.
Broadcast advertising is expensive, so be prepared to make the investment if you choose to air on broadcast. For example, the cost to air a short commercial during a 1999 episode of “The West Wing” in the Dallas market was $12,000. Because of the high cost, it’s not feasible for a local business to run a frequent number of ads.
Consistency is an effective tool when it comes to television advertising. Airing frequently on cable is more practical for the local business. The average cost of cable is $1 for every 2,000 households, and Nielsen Media estimates there are three people per home, with nearly 80% of homes having cable.
In the ’80s, cable companies broke advertising areas into large regions, which resulted in costly airtime. Eventually, in order to appeal to the local business, cable companies divided the larger areas into zones, which significantly cut the cost of airtime. Ad insertion has become completely localized within a 10- to 15-mile radius.
On Their Minds
Another important concept to understand is “in-market” vs. “out-of-market.” People who perceive themselves as being in immediate need of a chiropractor are considered in-market. The current demographic of people acquiring chiropractic care are those suffering from pain.
Until the cultural norm changes and people view chiropractic care as preventive care, the primary catalyst for new patients will continue to be pain or injury. Therefore, it is important to run your commercials on a long-term and consistent basis, so when people become in-market, they will remember the name of your practice.
Broadcast advertising reaches a vast number of people in all demographics. Cable advertising has customer profiles that are very specific. Cable allows you to target exactly whom you want to reach.
Because of the fragmentation of cable, you can identify your audience and not spend your money on reaching people who are not in your customer profile. For example, it’s commonly known that women are often the decision-makers in their families when it comes to health. The flexibility of cable advertising allows you to direct your advertising toward this important demographic.
Once you have decided between cable or broadcast, there are two kinds of spots available to you: rotator and fixed spots. A fixed spot is more expensive and means your commercial is run at a specific time every day. A rotator spot airs randomly during a specific time frame, such as 6 a.m. to midnight. A rotator is more effective, because you will reach different people throughout the day. Because rotators are less expensive, you can run several during the day, making sure to saturate your market.
Obviously, there is a lot to consider when deciding how to market your practice on television. Weigh the options and look at your specific needs. Dollar for dollar, television advertising is one of the most cost-effective strategies you can use.