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Look At Reach & Frequency: Stretch Your Ad Budget

Furniture World Magazine


Just look at your ad message, media, reach and frequency parameters.

A wise man was once asked how he became wealthy. He was, after all only a simple haberdasher who had ventured into caskets (and then furniture). He responded, "It has nothing to do with dying. It has everything to do with the coin (the payment for the goods sold). You have to stretch the coin. You don't stretch the 'metal' of the coin. You stretch the 'value' of the coin."

Stretching the value is one of the most impotent aspects creating an efficient advertising budget.

Last month's installment of "Media Management" explained that while retailers should craft a message that addresses their customers' needs and wants, it must also reach prospective buyers when they need and want home furnishings products and services the most. Stretching your advertising dollar allows you to do just that.

  • Suppose you are a traditional retailer that relies on the newspaper each and every week.
  • Suppose that your business barely moves ahead.
  • Suppose you retry the same themes over and over again.
  • Suppose that sales have been steadily going down each and every time you run another "No No" event.
  • Suppose you think that your customers are exactly the same as they were two years ago.
  • Suppose you tried television for a week, but it didn't work.
  • Suppose you increased your ad budget, but the results weren't exactly what you expected.
  • Suppose you think that business is tough because your audience has changed and the new customer is too tough... too demanding... only interested in cheap stuff.
  • Suppose you are wrong?
REFOCUS THE MESSAGE: Many retailers must evaluate the way they sell and refocus on selling the "need" of the product... not just the ability to enjoy it tonight, at no cost to the target. To do this is a two-fold task. First, new advertising must be aired that creates excitement. And second, there needs to be a serious re-dedication to the art of selling, including on-going sales education. This we spoke about in the December issue.

EVALUATE THE MEDIA: Now we must look at ways to create a budget that will get your exciting new message across. You will be happy to know that you don't have to increase your existing budget at all. You can actually increase sales and margins without additional investment by reaching your targets more efficiently. But, that budget has to include new parameters. That new budget has to reflect the changes in today's marketplace. It must have television as the lead medium... and it has to rely on frequency rather than reach. In fact, this article is dedicated to the use of frequency creating reach.

Now, before the purists start throwing bricks, and the newspaper sales managers begin their barrage of anonymous nasty telephone calls, let's set the record straight. People don't have the time to read the newspaper except on Sunday. Except on Sunday? What happened to "Holy Saturday", the granddaddy of all of retail advertising?

Why is Saturday so important? Retailers will tell you that is the day all of their competition is in the newspaper. And, if they aren't in there too, people will think they aren't in business. After all, Saturday is one of the best selling days in the week, they say. To those of you who have been living under a rock for the past decade, Saturday is one of the only days people have to shop. When both significant others in the household are working, when else can they shop? And, contrary to popular retail belief, Saturday is not one of the best read days for the newspaper. In fact, it is one of the worst. That is why it is so cheap to advertise in the Saturday newspaper. That is why many retailers really like to advertise in the Saturday newspaper. It is cheap.

Remember, we are trying to sell the "need". The "need" will create the "want". And selling the need has very little to do with advertising in the Saturday newspaper. If you can re-work your budget to include more television, your ad dollar will immediately be stretched. How much should be dedicated to television? To many of us who have seen what television can do, 100% is too little! But anything above 50% is a start. However, 65% is the figure home furnishings retailers in most markets need to make their advertising really work. The cost per targeted thousand to reach is much better in television than in the newspaper. And if you need to improve your bottom line, television is a simple solution.

REACH & FREQUENCY: And while you are stretching that "coin", we suggest you try to stretch some of your philosophies. For instance, don't just run thirty (:30) second spots in your flights. Combine them with (:10) second spots. They create added frequency. In fact, if you begin a flight (that duration for which you are dedicating a single message to the specific buying public, such as "Sale this weekend"), with thirties, then make the majority of the rest of the buy, a run of tens.

As an example, if during a week you have thirty spots airing on television, run the first five of them as thirties in the more substantial time slots (those with the biggest audience) and then run the balance in tens. It is the impression you make that counts... not the amount of total time you put in front of the target. If you hit them twenty-some times during a week with the same message, then you are getting through the clutter, and getting your message across. This is the purest way of stretching your advertising dollar and making sure that your message is in fact getting in front of that target who could, or who would or who should be buying from you. That is advertising in the '90s. Frequency creating reach. Imagine, something as simple as putting your message in front of the public with such frequency they have to see it. What a novel idea. Television can help you to make it happen.

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 lhanish@furninfo.com.