From Guest Blogger, Mr. X — He’s joining me at the next New Patient Extravaganza! Info here.

You’re In The Business of Putting Butts in Ops, Not in the Business of Buying Advertising – How you can turn the table on the TV/Radio Ad Reps

You may have seen this in a bad B-movie (or worse). The guy gets up from bed, walks to a chair and takes out a wad of cash from his pants pocket. As he drops the money roll on the nightstand you hear a women from a distance exclaim, “I love you, baby.”

A similar situation is happening if you’ve tried radio or television advertising and it hasn’t ‘yet’ produced the results you were hopeful for. The ad rep’s job is not to provide you results but to sell you advertising time. And, it’s actually not their fault. It’s their employer’s fault, the companies they work for. Most ad reps are nothing more than drones sent out into the local business community with a media kit filled with numbers and charts that illustrate how advantageous TV advertising is for a business. They (the ad reps) are given the mandate they cannot return to the office until they’ve landed an advertising contract. From their perspective, they’re still operating like the characters you see in the TV show ‘Mad Men.’

An ad rep has never invested their own money to pay for advertising. Behind closed doors the network bosses tell the worker drones what’s working and what’s not, and the drones accept it as gospel and then descend upon any disciples they can find to buy. For them, there are a lot of potential disciples because they’ve heard TV and radio ‘work.’ As long as I’ve been creating spots for clients, those worker drone ad reps have been selling the secret to effective TV and radio advertising as: frequency and reach. Those are the metrics they use to build your campaign.

To be able to produce results from ANY media, your metrics are: creative, offer, urgency, scarcity and schedule. For you, frequency and reach translates to ‘schedule’ in your equation. In most cases, the rep manages the schedule because most prospects are unfamiliar with the media. Therefore the buyer lets the rep dictate the schedule. You should not delegate this control. You cannot afford to and make radio or TV pay.

Going forward from here, in this article, I’ll focus on cable TV advertising, as it’s often the media most will be comfortable moving into first. It’s perceived to have a low bar for entry. There’s a large audience to reach, a lot of networks and shows to reach them through and a proportionately low cost per spot. To not argue the point about choosing network versus cable, I’ll focus here on cable.

An ad rep will get the inexperienced radio/TV media buyer excited with the number of spots they’ll traffic for airing. However, when you dissect their schedule you find out what they sell as reach and frequency is really message dilution.

Here’s a schedule I’m working with now. The ad rep submitted a flight schedule of 219 30-second commercials across 17 networks over a 2-week period, for less than a $2,000 investment. Digging into the schedule reveals that out of 219 spots only 34 are targeted on the top 4 networks… over 2-weeks. The rep’s selling reach and frequency.

Step back from the 219 spots and look at which have the greatest potential to reach the largest viewing audience… 34. Now do the math. 34 spots will reach the largest audience, but those 34 spots are divided across 4 networks over 21 days. 34 spots divided across 14 days gives you 2.4 spots aired per day, but then divide that by 4 (because there are 4 key networks). So 2.4 spots per day divided by 4 equals .6 spots aired per day on each key network. Each day on the schedule is an 18-hour day or .03 airings per hour. How much reach and frequency is .03 spots per hour buying you? Oh, you can’t air 9-seconds of a commercial every hour. It’s hard enough to motivate prospects with a 30-second TV spot let alone in 9 seconds. What about the other 185 spots in the proposal? They’re on ‘B’ and ‘C’ level networks, meaning lower viewership. So, to summarize… 15.5% of the schedule is on the prime viewing networks (but diluted by time and distance). 84.5% of the schedule is on useless networks (little to non-existent viewership). And half the media buy is in the 15.5% reach.

On top of that challenge there are at least 9 other obstacles getting in your way today that didn’t exist 5-years ago. The ad rep will never tell you about any of this because it doesn’t sell you into a $10,000, 12-week advertising contract. That conversation isn’t profitable for them.

The simplistic answer to making radio and TV advertising productive is becoming deaf to any ad rep’s pitch and propaganda and focusing on what you can control and designating it to the person most competent to get it done right. Obviously this is only a narrow look into one aspect with the media. There’s a much bigger and more complex discussion needing to be had to fully understand. At the next JJD New Patient Extravaganza (NPE), as Mr. X., I’ll unpack more of this in front of you with examples of the bad and good, the failures and the successful.

If you’ve tried to exploit TV or radio and haven’t yet made it work, or you’ve been enticed by it then you’ll want to be with us in May, at the next NPE. Even if you never plan on being on TV or radio, there’s a lot you can learn from this that could translate to other media you’re buying.

To learn how NOT to be a victim of a TV or radio ad sales person, attend the next New Patient Extravaganza. Mr. X, the author of the article above, will be appearing and sharing his closely-held secrets for success with radio and TV. Don’t miss it! Info here: