Part 1: Television Advertising
Inbound marketing is about getting found, rather than marketing to a mass of people that are trying their best to block you out. Many inbound marketers focus solely on new marketing and ”non-interruptive” techniques, shunning traditional outbound marketing ideas such as email blasts, telemarketing, direct mail, TV and radio ads, and even print media ads, billboards and tradeshows.
While I wholeheartedly agree that modern consumers are using technology to disrupt outbound marketing strategies that have worked in the past, some of the strategies, when used properly, can be modified to work beautifully in today’s marketing world.
Outbound Marketing and Consumer Savvy
In my series, I will address how technology and savvy consumers have created challenges for businesses wanting to advertise their products or services. I will also present solutions that have been used to overcome these challenges, and ideas that small business owners can use to tap into the game.
1. Television ads
Problem: DVR and TEVO have allowed consumers to record and then fast-forward through expensive commercials. Many TV viewers no longer watch live television. Instead, they create timers for their favorite shows, then watch them on their schedule. By skipping through commercials, a one hour show can be cut to just 40 minutes.
Solution 1: Unpredictable commercial breaks
While set-top recorders have changed the way consumers view television, there are ways that advertisers have continued to retain an audience. Networks like NBC and FOX no longer stick to a format that starts and ends prime-time shows on an hour and half-hour time grid. Instead, I need to set my DVR two to three minutes before a show starts or risk missing the beginning of the episode I want to view. During playback, the previous show ends and the new show begins immediately. When the first commercial does play, it is difficult to forward to the correct spot without stopping several times because cues that in the past would mean the programming is back on are now followed by another commercial. Even an experienced commercial fast-forwarder like myself finds that it is sometimes easier to advance through the advertisements to a certain point, then watch the last few commercials to avoid passing the beginning of the show, rewinding, and having to watch the commercial anyway. In this model, the advertisements that are at the tail of a commercial break are the ones I view most.
Solution 2: Creative and entertaining advertising
Even low-budget commercials are getting more and more creative, and often the line between programming and advertising entertainment is blurred. The pricey commercials that play during the Super Bowl are a good example, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has recorded that football event only to skip through the game and watch the advertisements from companies who paid an exhorbant amount to have me learn about their product or service.
Superbowl aside, an ad slot during prime-time network television is still priced out of reach for most small companies. How are the large players ensuring that eyes are on their expensive commercials? Many companies are using actors from the shows that are being watched, or A-list actors that people want to listen to. These known faces often make consumers hold off on the fast-forward button. Another technique to keep viewers engaged is to present the commercial as a mini-show in itself, which encourages us to watch the content to see what the advertisement is even about. Another technique is to offer such creative and orginal content and presentation style that viewers are enticed to watch from beginning to end.
Solutuion 3: Product placement and show sponsors
I don’t mind seeing blatant use of Apple computers on NBC’s 30 Rock, or a Toyota Sienna being prominently named and utilized on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. In fact, I find it useful learning about new brands of cookware on a cooking show, or the new features of an electronic device through a fictional TV story. In the “olden days” TV shows were sponsored by one large company. That one company was often mentioned throughout the show and a pitch was offered during each commercial break. If that model come back we would know what company or companies are sponsoring each show. When I watch public television with no commercials through my local PBS station, I take the time to watch what company sponsored Antiques Roadshow and the new Electric Company for my kids, and hearing about Robert Mondavi wine as a sponsor of America’s Test Kitchen has stuck in my brain.
Marketing solutions for the rest of us.
Most business owners don’t have the budget to spend on a network television ad, but thankfully, evolving technology has brought TV to the internet, and the internet to TV, meaning even companies on a small budget can get into the game. Large technology companies like Google and Netflix have been in the midst of mergers and acquisitions to offer viewers a television/internet combined experience. In the not-to-distant future, set-top internet boxes will allow television viewers to watch programming and internet content seamlessly on one screen. Conversely, internet viewers can now watch television content on a computer screen or portable device, so there is no longer a need to sit in front of a tv set to watch your favorite shows.
Because of the movement that blurs the line of where viewers are watching television content, small businesses can now sponsor an online show, place their commercial at the beginning of online video content, or work with viral video owners to make their website URL visible to millions.
But why stick with advertising on someone else’s video content? Internet solutions such Ustream.tv, LiveVideo.com, LiveStream.com and Justin.tv provide anyone with a computer and a camera a way to present their own live programming to anyone who is willing to watch. No longer reserved for large companies with huge advertising budgets, presenting live broadcasts about your product, service or event is a great way to engage customers and provide them with an interactive way to learn about your product. The Post Punk Kitchen hosted a vegan cooking show that highlighted the chefs playing punk rock music and demonstrating recipes. Their show developed a steady following, which boosted their online credibility and although new episodes are no longer being made, the website still ranks number two in Google under the keyword ’vegan cookbook.’ Not only will producing your own online show attract visitors, you can increase search engine rank by putting diverse content in multiple locations online.
When a plumber offers a weekly show with household tips, an author presents a monthly writing workshop, or an electronic store broadcasts timely technology updates for customers, all of these methods are an inexpensive way to have your own TV show and can help businesses reach a larger audience.
If your business marketing budget doesn’t allow for a traditional television commercial, create your own commercial to place within existing online content, or develop your own online show with your company as the title sponsor. Either way, new marketing levels the playing field and helps any size business be seen and discovered, as long as you are going where your audience is. I’d love to hear your feedback as to how you are using online commercials or producing your own online shows to increase your internet presence and gain exposure.