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The BizHow To Get More For Your Advertising Dollar

Everyone has a weakness for procrastination. We all know there are certain things that we should do sooner rather than later. I know I’m supposed to change my oil every 3,000 miles...but I don’t. I know I should apply sunscreen before stepping into the yard on a sunny Sunday afternoon...but sometimes I forget. Does that make me a bad person? I think not. But it does make me more likely to seize my engine and more prone to contracting skin cancer. (Note to self: time to re-examine priorities, especially in categories of auto care and personal protection!)

Small business owners have even more reasons than the rest of us for procrastinating on certain subjects. I give these entrepreneurs a lot of credit; it’s not easy wearing the multiple hats of Manager, Accountant, Customer Service Guru, and others. Therefore, Mr. and Ms. Business Owner, I’m writing this article with you in mind. Feel free to tap into my 17 years of media experience; today I’m going to give your business more exposure while saving you money at the same time!
Someone who cares about the success of your business is sending this article to you because they looked at a calendar. They flipped a few pages ahead, and—-would you believe it—joined me in discovering that the 2003 HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON is less than three months away!

Yeah, yeah, I know...your first reaction is, “I’ll deal with that AFTER Labor Day” (or Election Day, or Thanksgiving...take your pick). And you know what, technically you’re right—you CAN procrastinate and focus on getting your advertising in order at that time. The media will probably still accept your money, and you’ll end up leveraging the weight of your ad dollars to get a spot or two created just in the nick of time.

You Get MORE For Your Money When You Plan Ahead

Think about it. TV stations have a limited amount of commercial inventory available. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and the most desirable areas are sold out first. Why does the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sell out on NBC stations every year? It’s because savvy advertisers know that it’s a great vehicle for reaching their potential customers at an optimal time of the shopping season.

Trust me, you will pay a lower price today for a commercial in this year’s Macy’s Parade than you will 60 days from now (and that’s if there are any slots available two months from now).

A similar scenario can be applied to the production facilities that you usually use to create your advertising messages. Whether you rely upon your sales rep’s TV station, or you use a local ad agency and production house, the calendar is looking pretty wide open as we speak. You can nab the days and times that are convenient for you right now, rather than waiting until November 15—only to discover that your voiceover guy is on a cruise...overseas...with no digital voice patch service in sight. Or, take a moment to reserve more time to produce and execute your next campaign. It sure beats trying to squeeze your great idea into a two-hour window at the last minute because that’s the only time available.

And how about those news sponsorships? You know, the billboard-style messages that run in local newscasts proclaiming that “NewsCenter 4 is brought to you by...Jeff’s Auto Mart, where A-1 service is part of the deal.” Here, I’ll help you with the math.

The average 30-minute TV newscast has eight minutes of commercials. That’s sixteen 30-second units. But wait—more advertisers are now using 10- and 15-second spots as part of their mix. The commercial count is now approaching 20 or more units in the half hour!

Let’s say there are four commercial breaks in the newscast (your market may vary). That means there are four “NewsCenter 4 is brought to you by....” spots available. Do you know who gets them? Guess what—nobody’s saving them for news advertisers numbers 5 through 20. People who plan ahead get more exposure, and often get it for a lower price.

These are just a few examples of how you can get more advertising exposure and a stronger creative message for less money out of your pocket. How many of your vendors are offering THAT deal these days? I know you’re busy, but if you are like most of my other clients, you’re counting on the upcoming holiday season to make 2003 a success. Isn’t that worth 30 minutes of your time? I’ll even bring the coffee (and the sunscreen)!

Jeffrey Ulrich is a member of the sales team at WHEC, Rochester, NY. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the position of HBI, Inc. He can be reached through his website www.hidefjeff.com or at julrich@uemedia.com.