Q: My father and I purchased a 40-year-old kitchen and dining furniture store from someone who only used newspaper advertising. We'd like to start using TV ads, but we don't know how risky it would be to redistribute our ad budget. We're also concerned about uncontrolled growth that may occur from using this form of mass media.

A: The use of newspaper as a company's primary form of advertising was, and in some cases still is, a mindset passed down from generation to generation from the time when print was the only kind of advertising around. It's a built-in perk for newspaper reps. People like print ads because they provide tangible proof of where the ad budget went. You can touch them, reread them, cut them out, hang them on a wall, and show them to your grandchildren 30 years after they run, while radio and TV ads vanish into thin air in just 30 or 60 seconds. Paying for advertising you can't touch makes some people nervous, but it shouldn't. These intangible mediums are all very powerful when used correctly.

You said you were leaning toward television, but you don't want a stampede. Bite your tongue! Stampedes are what people pray for. Put more salespeople on the floor if you're really concerned, but don't hope for a mediocre response. Test the new medium by running a campaign using TV programs that target the upscale customers you're looking for (your reps can give you that information). Spotlight popular items in your ads rather than featuring products you're looking to unload. And don't skimp on frequency. Give your audience an opportunity to see the commercial. If you're going to test television, give it a chance to show you what it can do. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Broadbased shows (like news) are expensive to advertise during, but they hit informed consumers. Buying the same news slots on all network stations, on the same night, is called roadblocking and pretty much guarantees you'll hit almost everyone watching the news that night.
  • Specific programs (like Martha Stewart Living) hit women, for the most part, who are interested in improving their homes, and they are less expensive to advertise during than news shows so you can place more ads during any given week. Similar programs for men and every other conceivable audience are also available.
  • Cable television not only has specific shows but whole channels where the programming hits the same interest group all day long, and it's less expensive than the standard networks so you won't have to take an enormous bite out of your newspaper budget. See my previous column, "30 Seconds of Fame," for information on TV commercial production.

Keep your newspaper advertising, but make slight changes to free up money:

  • Reduce the size of your newspaper ads.
  • Run them fewer days per week.
  • Re-evaluate your current newspaper contract and see where you can save.

Play your TV and print ads off one another to make them both work harder. For example, end your TV ads by saying, "See tomorrow's paper for details." If you show five separate specialty items in your TV commercial, run five print ads and feature one of those specialty items in each ad.

A few years ago, I did a joint promotion with a company like yours and a neighboring seafood restaurant, and the two businesses shared the advertising costs. Everyone who purchased a dining set received a gift certificate for a takeout dinner for two from the seafood restaurant to enjoy on their new table.

By following these tips, you'll be able to find out what's best for you and your business. Good luck!

Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her book,Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy via her website at http://www.silentpartneradvertising.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.