Online advertising can be a relatively affordable and effective way to reach customers, especially ones who are at a critical point in the purchase-making process. Yet despite all the buzz about Internet advertising and search engine marketing (SEM), it still represents a small percentage of the overall advertising market - about 7 percent in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
What many people don’t realize is that Americans continue to spend more time watching television - nearly four-and-a-half hours per day on average - than they allocate to all other media combined, including the Internet, according to TNS.
The Internet has yet to penetrate the American marketplace as pervasively as TV, and TV reaches many more American adults on a given day than does the Internet. In addition, TV offers the unique capability of narrowly focusing on a target audience, both geographically as well as demographically.
That doesn’t mean professionals in the HVAC industries should forsake Internet advertising. Utilized together, TV combined with Internet advertising offers an opportunity to deliver a powerful one-two marketing punch. Despite the benefits of combining Internet advertising with other marketing efforts, nearly 60 percent of small business respondents to a Spot Runner (www.spotrunner.com) survey indicated that they’re not integrating their campaigns.
Here’s why you should - and more importantly how you can - maximize your use of TV and Internet advertising to drive business and gain new customers.
WHY TV: GET YOUR NAME OUTBefore anyone is moved to buy from your Yellow Pages, print, direct mail, or online ad, they usually need to know something about you - or at least recognize your business’s name.
As an advertiser, you have to distinguish yourself from dozens of similar contractors in your phone-book category, in any given day’s batch of mail, or a crowded search-results page online. Television is one of the most powerful ways to raise awareness for your business because it merges video and audio to grab people’s attention in a way that is impossible through advertising media like print, radio, or even the Internet.
Television advertising can be quite affordable, even for smaller businesses. It can cost as little as $1,500 to run a four-week campaign on premium cable channels, such as HGTV, CNN, and Fox in most U.S. markets.
This is because TV allows advertisers to efficiently zero in on their target demographic and target geographic market in a way that no other medium can. For example, a contractor whose main customers come from within a 10-mile radius could target that area using local cable, and if the business wanted to primarily target families, they could choose to only run ads on certain channels, such as CNN, HGTV and TLC.
Television advertising is essentially made up of a three-part process: commercial production, media planning, and media buying. There are generally four ways you can get on TV: retain a traditional ad agency, retain a media buying firm, do-it-yourself, or work with a technology-enabled ad agency that automates the process.
WHY THE INTERNET: PULL CUSTOMERS INWhen a person sits down to look online for someone to fix their heater, air conditioner or refrigerator, they are already in the market for that service and probably close to making a hire. So for many Americans, if they can’t find your business online, they may never find you.
An effective search engine marketing campaign will ensure that when consumers are searching for the services that your company offers, your company will be on the first one or two pages of the search results.
You can manage your online advertising campaign by working directly with search engines and Websites to track the popularity of relevant keywords and your search results (paid and organic) - or you can pay a firm to do it all for you.
HOW TO INTEGRATE YOUR CAMPAIGNSUsed separately, TV and Internet advertising are important media to help drive your business. Used together, these two media can be a powerful combination that will take your marketing campaign to the next level.
When developing your TV plus Internet campaign, create Web-conscious TV ads, but try to keep the online message you convey on TV simple and easy to remember. Use straightforward voice-over language such as “visit us online at www…” and make sure your Web address appears prominently in your TV ad. Viewers will visit your site to get more information, such as your address and hours of operation. And keep the overall message of your TV ad clear and simple to avoid overwhelming viewers.
When it comes to running an integrated campaign, timing is everything. Make sure you run your TV and online campaigns at the same time and have them overlap whenever possible. In other words, if you’ve advertised locally on CNN, consider running targeted local ads on Yahoo! News to hit your news-minded prospects with a powerful one-two punch over a short period of time. And make sure your Website is easy to navigate and visually appealing.
THE BOTTOM LINEBusinesses - particularly small businesses with limited brand awareness - that invest strictly in online marketing may get passed over on search pages in favor of companies with more recognizable or familiar names, while businesses that invest strictly in TV will concede their spot in the world’s most trafficked marketplace.
With television, you have the ability to drive your brand image into the hearts and minds of customers, and hone in on your target audience where and when you want to reach them unlike any other channel that exists today.
However, with TV you only have 30-60 seconds to convey your key messages and points of differentiation, so use it also as a way to introduce current and potential customers to your Website so they can go online to spend even more time to learn about your company’s products or services. Use your Internet advertising to make sure customers can easily find your site if they are searching on Google, Yahoo! or MSN, and to provide the tools they need to make the next step, whether it’s to visit your store, make an online purchase or pick up the phone.
Whatever you do with your advertising budget, don’t let your target audience get overwhelmed by choices. Help them remember you by running an integrated advertising campaign that reaches them at various stages of the buying process.