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Who Sees Your Ads?

Furniture World Magazine


That depends on mix of television and newspaper advertising.

Fewer and fewer people have time to read anything anymore. Time is the issue. Granted, newspaper circulation is down while the cost of advertising in the newspaper is rising higher and higher. Circulation is down because newspaper readership is declining.

As I travel, I often think to myself that the only people who read the newspaper are those who travel. Travelers read everything, including the emergency instructions in the pocket in front of each rider. But lets face it... frequent flyers are not your normal, everyday consumers for home furnishings. And if we are, we are not reading the local newspaper. Our journal of substance is USA TODAY whose only ads for furniture are the listing of the transhippers in the classifieds.

Most people simply do not have time to read the newspaper as in the past. Yet most furniture dealers still treat newspapers as if they were the Holy Grail. It is their security blanket. It is as if they think that nothing will ever bother them as long as they wrap themselves in this blanket of newspaper each and every week. For most, this strategy is not working.

Wake up! We've got trouble out there. Consumers are not rushing into our stores because we are not reaching them. As the economy slows down and zooms up, we are responsible for telling people who we are, where we are located and what we sell. The last time I opened up a newspaper on a Saturday, there were no furniture stores advertising any product. They were all shouting finances. The "First National Bank of Sofa" was screaming NO NO. The "Second Bank of Bedroom Furniture" was yelling NO NO NO and the "Mattress State Bank" was blaring LOWEST OF THE LOW. Why don't we all get together and offer the products (whatever they are) for FREE. We will get traffic!

Enough said about the message. Let us continue to discuss the messenger.

People are watching television. They are getting their news from it... their entertainment from it. They laugh in front of it. They cry in front of it. They are burrowing in, and television is their lifeline to the outside world. So why do many furniture retailers continue to allocate most of their advertising funds to the newspaper?

The message has created consumer apathy and the traditional messenger is not reaching the audience anymore. Why don't we all close our stores and go into real estate where we belong, because then all we have to do is collect the money.

Frequent flyers know where all of the exits are because they read everything in sight. Now even this last bastion of literacy is coming to an end. Television runs non stop from coast to coast. The other day I caught two great "I Love Lucy" reruns, a brilliant presentation on The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, a trip through Napa Valley and a feature movie. Just before I landed, the head sets came off, the television sets disappeared into the ceiling and life became boring again. I reached into the seat pocket, grabbed the latest edition of the airline's magazine (which I had read cover to cover several times before) and saw an article that had escaped me. It was about the decline of newspapers in America. Wait, it sounded vaguely familiar. No wonder. The author of the article was me!

More and more, furniture dealers are waking up to the fact that they can reach their audiences more economically and more effectively through television. Where is everyone on Thursday evenings? "Must See TV On NBC". "E.R." has become the hottest program since the early days of "Cosby". "Friends"is just beginning to hit its stride and the cornerstone is still "Jerry". This is the television generation. That is where you can reach them.

How about doing yourself a favor. Put your commercial on Thursday night's "Must See TV". Find out what happens to your business compared to just placing an ad in Saturday's paper. But don't try them together. Run the television commercial all by itself. I believe that if you use the best programming on the best medium and your message concentrates on the fact that you sell furniture rather than financing... you will see results.

There's more. You still have time to prepare. January is the best month to sell furniture. All you have to do is follow these simple instructions to get great advertising results. Put your money into television and load up on January 1. Buy into the Rose Bowl Parade. You are going to love the results. Jump all over the Citrus Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Then on the 2nd, make sure you hit the Fiesta Bowl. It is a great way to begin the new year and a great way to begin to tell the people you are into selling furniture.

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.