Adding TV Advertising to your Marketing Mix

Stacey Freed
October 14, 2014
COLUMN : Integrated Marketing | Sales & Marketing

TV advertising may be expensive and offer leads that are hard to track, but it still has its place in your marketing mix, particularly if you’re a larger company. “Many of my window and door industry clients are switching from TV to more direct-response advertising like the Internet,” says Welton Hong, founder of RingRing Marketing, www.ringringmarketing.com. “They know what their cost per lead is, and it’s easy to measure and know the [Internet] ads are working.” But using television is still good for branding, “especially if you’re in a competitive market,” he says.
 
Case in point is Jones & Associates, www.thejonesboys.com, in Lubbock, Texas. Jeff Jones has been in business for 27 years and runs what he says is “an aggressive TV schedule”—with about 1,500 impressions a month. “We’re in people’s faces on a regular basis. It’s difficult to forget us.”

Jones writes and stars in the ads, which are produced professionally. They focus on the company’s brand and what it does best. “We take a character-based approach,” he says. “We don’t do a lot of arm waving and yell, ‘Buy three get one free.’” The company has a solid reputation for customer service and the ads focus on “being a company that’s been around a long time that has [customers’] best interests at heart.”

The commercials are usually 30 seconds long and highlight a single idea such as customer satisfaction, employee trustworthiness or a product attribute. The TV spots always end with the tagline, “The proof’s in the puddin’.”

Buying Time
Jones spends about 10 percent of his volume on his marketing budget; about $18,000 a month goes toward television in his local market. But that number would be difficult for others to use for a comparison, he says, because “that amount wouldn’t even touch an urban area.”

When considering costs, there’s more than production to think about. Comfort Windows and Doors, www.comfortwindows.com, headquartered in Syracuse, N.Y., has dealers in four markets and outsources production of its television advertising. In house, Director of Marketing Scott Brown buys media time for Comfort. While “we find [buying our own media] advantageous,” he says, that method might not be ideal for a smaller company that doesn’t have a lot of resources.

There’s a lot of time involved in finding good rates, for example. “Every market is individualized and it’s all about your ability to leverage your buying power and negotiate better pricing [than what’s on the rate card],” says Brown, who talks with 12 to 18 TV stations at one time. And ad buys are often done in November and December to get the best rates for the entire year (although time can be bought in smaller chunks all year long).

If you don’t have the resources for this, it’s best to use an outside agency to purchase media time. And if you’re a small company that wants to use TV, you might try a co-op with a manufacturer or another entity. For example, Comfort has used co-op marketing dollars available from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Getting Results
Since Comfort has a wide reach, it has stopped using a designated phone number in its TV ads to track leads. Instead, it uses its web address. “We drive traffic there,” Brown says, “so customers can get additional information and education, which will make them more confident in working with us.” For Comfort, “results” equal a sales appointment. Increases or decreases let the company know if an ad is working.

“TV is probably the most important part of our marketing mix,” Brown says. Comfort runs humorous and serious 30-second ads; many are product related. Brown says the humorous ads get the most response.

To track how their ads are working, salespeople at Jones & Associates ask customers what brought them in. “A lot of [consumers] say they saw us on TV,” Jones says. “We look at it as best we can from a per-station perspective and then in the aggregate about what it is that TV in general is doing for us.”

Hong says that for repeat customers—of which Jones has many—TV can help. “People will hear you a lot more often and your ad will stick in their minds. TV really is one of the best branding tools out there, and, people will think you’re a bigger company if you’re on TV.”

Freed is a contributing writer for Window & Door.