Advance planning can ensure the best placement of your ads.
Everybody was talking about it! Did you see the play (that won the NBA Championship Game) or the shot (that won The Masters) or the scene that Madonna created (on The Late Show Starring David Letterman) or the dress that Wynona Ryder wore (on The Academy Awards)?
In a society that has as its new found core, spending the best of times talking about other people and other people's accomplishments or mistakes, "The Big Event" has become the cornerstone of societal conversation. It makes the front pages of even the most respected newspapers in the world (but who reads newspapers anymore?) and it is featured on gossip shows like A Current Affair, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight or Hard Copy (come on... admit it , sometimes even you catch a glimpse of these programs that you swear you don't watch). It makes television talk shows such as Larry King Live, Tom Snyder, Sonya Live, Sally Jesse Raphael, Donohue and the queen of talk shows, Oprah!.
This is the reality of living in the middle 90's. Instant Information. And when we search for more useful information and switch our dials to Peter Jennings on ABC, Tom Brokow on NBC, Dan Rather and Connie Chung on CBS or Bernard Shaw on CNN, guess what? There it is... "The Big Event" again.
And the next morning when everyone is talking about it in the store, what are we thinking? "I wish I had been running my television commercial on that show. I would have gotten extraordinary viewer ship". Or, "I wish I was on that program tonight. It will have a huge audience". The fact of the matter is, you could have been on during that time period and you could have garnered top ratings if only you had the foresight to pre-plan your media schedule, not just for one month, but for a quarter or even a year out.
Too often furniture dealers wait until the last minute to make the meaningful decision to attack "The Big Event" . "It's in the future. I'll have time to make that decision later". Well if you want to see what Wynona is going to wear to the Oscars next year, you better make your buy now. And get into the 90's and buy "E! The Entertainment Network" on the pre- and post Oscar telecast on cable. Don't get "E!"? That's easy. Call your local cable operator and demand that they put it on. And keep calling. Call your alder person and/or your mayor. After all, cable operators are beholding to the local politicians because they control their license. And the last thing that a cable operator wants, is to hear that the alder person or mayor is on the phone.
But you say "I already have "E!". How do I get on the programs that feature potential dynamite such as Madonna on Letterman?". Again, easy. Call your local CBS station and talk to your rep. Ask him for the monthly schedule of guests on various shows. These are available to almost every station in advance from the networks. You can, in fact, get a tremendous amount of information about programming from your local stations, such as movie titles, talk show guest lists etc., in advance. All it takes is a telephone call.
- Television is not a mystery.
- Television is not complicated to use.
- And television is not expensive, as the newspaper people would like to have you believe.
Television is as affordable as you want it to be, because almost all of the costs of television are directly related to the size of the audience of the program you may want to purchase. If you don't want to reach that large audience (or in polite circles, you can't afford it), select programming with a smaller audience. Of course you must realize that the smaller the audience, the more times you are going to have to run your message to have the same impact as the larger audience show (The Big Event). And in many cases, you will wind up spending more than the investment in one huge program because you will be trying so hard to capture that audience that you will have lost the magic of the moment of The Big Event.
Some say that the Super Bowl is a lousy media buy. Others say it is the best buy. Some say that the Super Bowl is iffy. If your spot happens to run at a time that you are not in the room, then you'll miss seeing the commercial. With that logic we could say that if you went out on your day off to play golf, you could be hit by a bolt of lighting. Both are possible but in the real world, not likely. "The Big Event" is one thing ... Big Audience ... which leads to Big Traffic ... which leads to Big Sales ... which hopefully leads to Big Profits. Remember those?
Why do you suppose Big Companies advertise on The Big Event? It is a wise investment. And if you use the platform correctly, you can make it a very profitable investment.
Nobody is saying that you have to advertise on The Big Event. Nobody is forcing you to do that. And nobody is suggesting that you plan your total advertising budget and schedule a year in advance. Nobody is forcing you to do any of this. However, if you plan your budget (and all budgets are changeable) in advance, and plan a rough schedule and place part of it in advance (almost all schedules are changeable), you will have covered most of the bases and left enough budget available to capture that magic moment on The Big Event as it comes along.
How many knew that Madonna was going to be on Letterman that evening? Most media management planners not only knew that she would be on, but at what position in the show she would most likely appear. When would you have liked your commercial to run, before she appeared, after, or while she was on? It was possible. All of the information was available to you. All you had to do was call your local station rep or agency. And if they can't help you, give us a call. Maybe we can help. But whatever, make the call.
We have plenty of historical data that can be used to predict who will be watching The Next Big Event. We know, for instance that many women watch the Tournament Of Roses Parade on New Years Day morning (except this coming year when the parade and the game will be held on Monday, January 2, 1995. It seems the various Bowls have elected not to play on Sunday when the New Year falls on a Sunday, but rather play on the following Monday.) The Parade's audience is made up largely of women 35-54 years of age, and women 55+ as a secondary group. This is a perfect audience for reaching the key buyer of home furnishings. But many dealers say, "This is summer, that's winter. I need business now!" Well the British Open is coming up July 14-17 on ABC. And because it is held early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday, it is the perfect time to grab the audience you need to come in and buy your product that weekend. And don't forget that Thursday's and Friday's rounds are shown on ESPN, a perfect time to grab their attention ahead of the weekend. But there's more... much more. All you have to do is call.
Beginning this month The Big Event List, featuring programming to look for during the coming month(s), will accompany Furniture World's Media Manage-ment article. As you prepare to build your business through television, for greater traffic, sales and profitability, remember, television works. Use it.
Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.