Show And Tell

Advertising on cable television can help you flaunt your products for a whole new audience.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the October 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Research tells us that our ability to communicate breaks down like this: 55 percent is visual, 38 percent is tonal, and only 7 percent of our communication success is based on the words we choose. That's a significant statistic to consider when you're deciding how you want to use your precious advertising dollars.

Consider how this data applies to the notion of advertising on cable television. Cable advertising offers the advantage of sight (visual) and sound (tonal) along with the added benefits of motion, color, affordable rates, and the ability to geographically and demographically target specific customer groups. This is a rather compelling argument to seriously consider advertising on cable.

Television reaches a great number of people in a short amount of time. But in many cases, traditional TV advertising may not be affordable for the average small business. Some can afford it only for a limited period of time, especially if they are buying prime-time slots; they are often relegated to nonprime-time slots if they want to have any long-term frequency. That's why more and more small firms are turning to advertising on less expensive, local cable channels. Here are some advantages to cable advertising:

  • It can quickly create awareness of your business, establish your image and educate viewers about your products or services.
  • You can micro-target the groups that fit your "best customer" profile.
  • You can achieve frequency on a limited budget, which often moves fence-sitters into action.
  • You can enhance and stretch the power of other existing advertising you might be doing.
  • You may be able to reach a different segment of the population, one that doesn't read newspapers or magazines.

But just because cable advertising offers unique advantages, don't overlook the basic principles that precede any sound advertising decision. Ask yourself:

  • What is it I want my advertising to accomplish? Be precise about your goals.
  • Who am I trying to reach? Bring into focus exactly who your target market is. Formulate a profile of your more profitable customers--age, buying power, gender, family and so on.
  • Address your customers' needs. You might be able to find the right media at the right price, but unless you know what your ads must say, your efforts will likely fail. You need to persuade viewers that your product or service meets their needs better than anything or anyone else.

Once you determine your advertising goals, know who your ideal customer is, know what market segments you want to attract, and are realistic about your advertising budget, then approach the advertising representatives from your local cable company. Ask questions about the various networks they carry, the number of subscribers they have, the breakdown of package or channel preferences in terms of numbers, gender, age, profession, ethnic background and so on.

Get a complete explanation of the costs, not only in airing the spots but also in producing them. Know in advance what you're looking at in terms of overall expenditures.

Talk to other people who have advertised on cable, and find out how well the medium worked for them. Were they satisfied? How did they track the results? You may even want to look into a "cable co-op" of sorts, where several companies collaborate on an ad package that promotes their services or products and highlights a different business with each ad. In other words, be creative.

Finally, remember any advertising effort must be orchestrated so it works in concert with your entire marketing plan. Advertising on cable television can be just one element in that plan but may serve to reach a large number of targeted prospects in a more economical way.

Contact Source

Leann Anderson is the owner of Anderson Business Resources, a Greeley, Colorado, company
specializing in customer service, marketing and business etiquette.
E-mail her at

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