Cable TV advertising is the answer for a good number of entrepreneurs. It's an ideal mar-keting vehicle for businesses like Steve's-those with one or more locations in one region and a customer base that has identifiable characteristics. (In Steve's case, they're pet owners.) Advertising via cable TV is affordable, too-rates are based on audience size, and because cable TV can be bought in small geographic areas, it's cheaper than local network affiliate programming. Plus, cable TV allows you to pinpoint a specific target audience by selecting cable networks that offer specialized programming for viewers with particular interests.
Suppose you own a retail store that sells communications equipment for businesses and you're selecting from several local TV advertising opportunities. Many shows on the major networks draw huge audiences that reflect a representative sample of the general population, while a cable network such as CNBC attracts smaller audiences of more adult, business-oriented viewers by nature of its content. So local cable advertising on CNBC and other select networks could provide an effective, affordable way to reach qualified prospects who are interested in what your store has to offer.
Regarding Steve's pet store, buying advertising on local cable systems to run on networks such as Animal Planet and Discovery Channel might yield audiences that have a strong interest in animal-related programming. But to find pet owners who fit the profile of his best clients, Steve would have to check out the latest specialized research pinpointing the best way to reach specific target audiences. Fortunately, broadcast outlets subscribe to Nielsen Media Research for ratings and quantitative data, as well as Scarborough Research for qualitative audience reports, and they crunch the data at no cost. So not only can Steve determine what percentage of the viewing audience watching each cable channel during a particular time period, such as from noon to 4 p.m., fits his client profile, but he can also find out how many of those viewers own pets. The depth of qualitative data available varies by market.