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Achieve Broadcast Reach with Small Business Television Ads

Television ads are the most memorable form of advertising. For small businesses looking to maximize advertising reach in a small market area, broadcast advertising may be essential to success. With the advent of cable, television advertising is suddenly an affordable way for small businesses to spread their commercial message.

Small business ads: broadcast reach versus frequency

Broadcast reach is the number of people who hear your small business ad or, in the case of TV, the number of households that are tuned in when your ad airs. Frequency is the number of times that an average prospect is exposed to your ad.

The accepted rule is that a broadcast ad needs to reach a prospect three to five times before it triggers action, which usually requires a schedule of 27 to 30 ad broadcasts. Reach and frequency work together in advertising schedules to put your message in front of enough prospects enough times to make a marketing difference.

If you have to choose, opt for frequency over reach. Instead of airing ads on ten stations (wide reach), choose two of the stations and talk to the same people repeatedly (high frequency).

Reach achieves awareness, but frequency changes minds.

How much small business advertising is enough?

The age-old question among broadcast advertisers is how much and how often ads need to air. This is where rating points come to the rescue. A rating point measures the percentage of the potential audience that a broadcast ad reaches. If an ad airs during a time that’s calculated to reach 10 percent of the potential audience, then it earns 10 rating points.

Rating points are based on actual market performance, measured through surveys conducted by firms such as Arbitron and A. C. Nielsen. The findings have a margin of error, but they remain the best way to compare broadcast audiences within a market area. Stations subscribe to the findings and share the numbers with advertisers as part of their sales efforts.

Your small business ad schedule

Gross rating points (GRPs) are the total number of rating points delivered by an ad schedule, usually over a one-week period. If you air 30 ads in a week, each reaching an average of 5 percent of the total potential audience, your schedule achieves 150 GRPs.

Target rating points (TRPs) are measured exactly like GRPs, except they count only your target audience. If your target market consists only of men age 35-plus, then your TRPs are measured as a percent of the men 35-plus who hear or see your ad.

GRPs measure your total reach; TRPs measure your effective reach.

Most media planners agree on the following scheduling advice:

  • The rock-bottom minimum for GRPs is 150 per month. If your budget can’t cover a schedule with 150 GRPs over a month-long period, the effort likely won’t be worth the investment.

  • To build awareness, schedule at least 150 GRPs for three months in a row. You can divide your schedule into 50 GRPs every week or 75 GRPs every other week, but commit to a multi-month schedule if you expect broadcast advertising to result in awareness for your business.

  • Buy up to 500 GRPs per month to blitz the market. For grand openings and major promotions, you need the kind of impact that only high-frequency broadcast buys can deliver.

You can make a broadcast buy without ever mentioning rating points, but you shouldn’t. When a station rep offers to schedule for example, “Thirty spots at an average of $25 each,” what are you really getting for your money?

Follow up with a request: “Would you calculate how many gross rating points that schedule delivers? Also, what percentage of the audience fits our target profile of (for example) men age 35-plus?”

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