How To Make Radio & TV Advertising Work For Your Small Business

Marketing, when broken into its simplest elements, consists of just three steps: 1) have something good to say, 2) say it well, and 3) say it often. Let me show you the power of focusing on step 3 only — saying it often. In a media-saturated world, repetition is the key to marketing success.

Here's a specific six-step formula for you to follow:

  1. Start With Radio / TV: Both radio and television have many advantages over other local media. They reach a wide audience, they give you an opportunity to really target your market, and they're both relatively inexpensive. But their biggest advantage lies in their ability to consistently deliver the same listeners over and over.

    Do a quick self-audit: How many different stations do you listen to or watch during a given month? If you're like most people, only 2 to 5… and you'll have 1 or 2 that get 80% of your attention. Compare that to the number of websites you'll visit or magazines you'll pick up. You'll easily see that there's a real opportunity to tattoo your brand into peoples' brains using radio or television. All you need to do is find the relatively few stations that reach your target market and start there.
  2. Allocate A Tiny Budget: Here's a bad idea: plunge the majority of your marketing budget into something you've never done before. Here's a good idea: allocate a tiny percentage of your budget to something new. Tiny means 5% to 20%, depending on how well the other, bigger part of your budget is performing. If everything else is flopping anyway, you can probably afford to allocate more to terra incognita.
  3. Exploit Creatures Of Habit: Here's the other major advantage radio and television have over other media: you can predict with a high degree of accuracy exactly when an individual listener is going to tune in. Review your morning routine for some clues: I'll bet most of the time you get up at the same time every day, do the same things at the same time every day, and listen to or watch the same programs on the same stations at the same time consistently every day. Why such predictable behavior? Because we're all human! And us humans tend to follow daily routines with astonishing reliability.

    Take this a step further and you'll see this means it doesn't really matter if your tiny budget only affords you time on the 2nd or 13th or 19th ranked station in your market. The fact that the station isn't super popular to the masses is irrelevant to the people who listen to it daily with Metamucil-like regularity. The key is to be able to pound the same people at the same time every day.

    So take your tiny budget and laser focus it on an extremely small part of the day. Start with 1 spot per weekday at the EXACT same time. If you can afford two spots run them within 15 minutes of each other—you'll catch your prospect before and after their shower. If you can afford 3 daily spots, run them within the same hour. Whatever you do, DO NOT listen to the media sales rep who will want you to spread your spots out throughout the day so you can increase the number of people you reach. The key isn't to reach a ton of people a couple of times each; the idea is to reach a relative few people a bazillion times each.
  4. Make An Offer: Just because you're beginning to brand your company doesn't mean you should forgo a powerful offer in your ads. You can achieve a direct response (i.e. call now!) and brand your company at the same time. And don't forget to extend an offer to future buyers with an information offer for some kind of informational report or DVD.
  5. Stay The Course: Let's say I own a mattress store. I'm probably not going to buy a mattress this week… or this month… or even this year. I just don't need a new mattress all that often. But statistically speaking, I'm probably going to need one sometime in the next FIVE years—which means that about 20% of us are going to need one this year, and just north of 1% of us will need one this month. That means if 2,000 people listen to your chosen station at the same time every day, only about 200 of them are in the market at all this month for a new mattress.

    Now comes the hard part—sticking to the plan, especially in the early going. Let's say you start this plan this week. After 5 weekdays, those 200 people are going to have a maximum of 5 to 10 of your impressions in their brain. That's good, but it's also competing with the 22,621 impressions that are already in their head from every other mattress ad they've heard or store they've ever seen. It's going to take a little time to break down their will to resist. You have to acknowledge this and employ Yoda-like patience as you build momentum.

    But build it will. Think forward 12 months. The same 2,000 people have been hearing or seeing your ad 2 to 10 times a week for an entire year now—that's 100 to 500 times. Now when the statistically-likely 200 people need a mattress, you'll be at the forefront of their brains most of the time. Thinking that this formula should start producing huge results right away is as foolish as thinking you can drop a watermelon seed into the ground on June 12th and have them ready for your 4th of July party. It just takes some time.
  6. Rinse & Repeat: Once the tiny part of your budget begins to produce an acceptable ROI, then repeat the process again by increasing the number of spots you buy on that same station. After all, there's a whole other set of people that get out of the shower at 6:15… and 7:08… and 7:44. And once you're making money on all the morning people, then start capturing the afternoon drivers… then the middle of the day listeners. Then move on to another station that matches your demographic and do it all over again.

The rewards for implementing this plan are tremendous—you can start to literally dominate your marketplace by capturing your desired target market one small group at a time. As your plan succeeds, your budget will grow, and you can afford to expand your influence to a larger and larger percentage of your target market. At some point you will be making so much money that you'll run out of stations to dominate. But that's a problem for another day.