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Cable Really Is As Good As Everyone Says

Furniture World Magazine


So, why isn't everyone using it?

What are your customers doing every morning? The wife is watching Sonya Live on CNN in the kitchen as she discusses the values of shock advertising... the teenage son is in his room watching Pro Beach Volleyball on ESPN II (or as they who are so trendy call it..."the deuce")... the daughter is in her room watching and listening at jet engine volume to Doggy Dog's newest and latest on MTV, while Dad is in the study watching CNBC and the money wheel.

Grandma is watching yet another episode of Murder She Wrote on USA, while Grandpa is switching the dials trying to find yet another episode of yet another program about World War II (he fought at Guadalcanal, you know). The daughter who is home from college for a couple of days is watching Whitney Houston singing "I Will Always Love You" for the fiftieth time this week. The older son, who is yet to find his role in life is watching "Politically Incorrect" on the Comedy Channel.

And this is the life of America... today. So, what's up with cable? Everything. This is what makes cable so great for retailers throughout America. All by itself, it has made your job very easy... and very affordable. Pick your audience. Cable already has. And place your buy. Your audience is there.

In the past, we advertised in newspaper (see March 1994 Furniture World) and found that it was a crap shoot in reaching our target audience. On broadcast television (network affiliates & independents), the audiences are bigger and more diverse. This makes program selection most critical. But on cable, it has made the job of program selection and audience separation clear. Therefore, if you are looking for women, 25-34 years of age, or 35-54 years of age, or 55+ or 18-49 or nearly any demographic group you desire, now you can hit them with your message without waste. Programming of cable networks is designed to reach a specific target audience. That is their advantage.

Just take a look at the cable opportunities. There is BET (Black Entertainment Television) targeting the Black American. Telemundo and Univision target the Hispanic audience. Lifetime targets the female viewer 25+. ESPN targets the male audience, 25+. ESPN II targets the male audience, 18-24. MTV targets the teen market. VH-1 targets the post teen. "E" The Entertainment Network targets the movie and television junkie, largely female driven. CNN, CNN Headline and USA are as close to general audience networks as you will find on cable. Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) is targeting the upscale audience, along with Bravo. Nickelodeon is targeting the pre-teen market during the day and the kid in all of us during the evening ("Nick At Nite"). The Discovery Channel is full of nature discovery and the world at war programming. It is a male targeted channel. The Learning Channel is for the curious. One of its most popular programs, "Beakman's World" is one of the first cross-over kid-to-adult or adult-to-kid science lesson programming ever invented. It has become so popular, it is now featured on CBS Saturday morning programming.

And we are only beginning. You want talk? There's CNBC in the evening. If you want sports scores anytime, just look at the ticker running every evening and all weekend on CNN Headline News. For the sports junkie male who absolutely needs his fix of more sports after he has seen everything there is on ESPN or ESPN II there's Sports Channel America. For the business interested, there is CNBC's daytime of money wheel, and through the dinner hour we rehash the entire day on Wall Street. For those looking for more formal programming regarding business, CNN's "Moneyline with Lou Dobbs" is the absolute fix. Both are great for reaching the high pressured, business person who needs to be reached but can only be reached when he is sitting down, at home.

There's more. Consider TNT, TBS and the various superstations. All offer more sports programming and movies. When sports are on, it is male driven. When movies are on, it is female driven.

And what is most amazing is the great ability of the retailer to have local placement of his or her commercials placed within the one or two cable networks that reach their audience the best... all at a price they can afford. And because of the inexpensive commercial opportunities, this medium has become known as a great "frequency" medium.

The basic adage of advertising is that there are two things that make successful advertising. One is "reach". The other is "frequency". "Reach" is the art of reaching the specific buying target one time. "Frequency is the art of frequenting the specific buying target many, many times.

Cable allows retailers to frequent or tell their specific audience their message over and over again for a very low cost. That is half the battle.

With cable you can also, in many markets, geographically pinpoint your message while not wasting your message on consumers in areas that will not respond to your message.

The other reason that retailers have grown to love cable is that it works. How much does it take to make cable work for you? On average, most successful retailers are investing 20% of their budget oncable. They simply cannot get to a level of frequency that works any other way.

So the next time you are wondering why that newspaper ad didn't pull, think about cable.

Consider this the next step in learning about the use of television for your home furnishings store.

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.