<p>You come home from work and collapse on the couch. Turning on the television a familiar melody fills the room. “Like a good neighbor.” The 30 seconds end, but the dependability of State Farm lingers on your lips. Although you may not be able to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you will never forget a random jingle uttered incessantly into your brain. Ahhh, the power of television advertising. Advertising is power. Television advertising is absolute power. But what kind of television advertising is the most powerful? Over the last decade, cable television has slowly increased in popularity among total viewers; according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau the 1999-2000 television season attracted 68.1% of total viewers during primetime. While broadcast television has been an ideal medium in the past, cable is emerging as the local business’ advertising choice for the new millennium. Depending on your specific needs there are three commercial options: video, film, or syndication. Like all of your choices, a commercial shot on video offers advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, video is low cost. Prices range anywhere from $200-$5,000. To get started, your best bet is to contact your local cable company. Usually they will have someone on staff that can shoot your commercial. If not, they can refer you to a local production facility. Another benefit to video is your ability to choose how you want to market your business. Do you want someone from your staff to be in your commercial? You will be directly involved with the production process so your options are open as to how you want to advertise your business. Unfortunately, the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to video. A local cable company’s main goal is to fill airtime slots so they take a bare bones approach to your video. They are often restricted by budget, inferior facilities, and limited equipment and cannot provide you with the luxuries of professional lighting, sound, or actors. Combined with video’s low quality, the result is a commercial that is immediately recognized as a locally produced spot. Think local used-car dealer. Film, on the other hand, provides the professional look that benefits your credit union. All national commercials are shot on 35mm film so you get the same quality found in a Nike or Coca Cola commercial. If you choose to use film, you will need to contact an advertising agency. There you will be provided with professional writers, directors, and lighting and sound engineers. Film captures people’s attention in a positive way. Because of the top quality of the commercials, your local business is immediately set apart as a business that cares about professionalism and one that delivers a high-quality product. Remember, once you begin to advertise on television, you are not competing against other credit unions, you are competing against a standard that people are accustomed to seeing. In other words, your competition is the quality found in a Nike commercial. Your goal-appeal to the channel surfer. Commercials shot on film are an excellent tool for any business to utilize. Unfortunately, the big disadvantage of using this type of commercial is its high cost. Typically, one commercial shot on film will cost a minimum of $50,000, which is usually not feasible for the local business. Even if a business does have the money to invest in film, most likely it will be limited to shooting one commercial, which doesn’t provide any flexibility in its marketing campaign. At this point, television advertising may sound like a no-win situation. You have to either sacrifice quality or shell out a ton of money. There is a third option available for every community-based business requiring low-cost, high quality marketing tools-syndicated commercials. By creating national-quality commercials shot on film and offering them on a market-by-market basis to businesses around the country, a local business can purchase a national level campaign for a fraction of the production cost. Generally syndicated media providers professionally script and film commercials designed exclusively for local businesses, in this case, credit unions. Packages of commercials, a professionally produced print campaign is created and licensed to one credit union per market across the country. You want to have exclusive rights to your commercials for at least a year. The commercials are customized with the local business’ logo and information and a professional audio tag is inserted. The result: viewers see national looking commercials produced by a local business. Using syndicated commercials provides the client with an annual approach to advertising their business. In the advertising industry, it is standard for agencies to design a 12-13 month timeline to brand their client’s image. By airing a variety of commercials throughout the course of a year, you appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. The one disadvantage to using syndicated commercials is that they are pre-produced. Purchasing a commercial package of pre-produced spots means you have no input toward the development of the commercials. If you are happy with what you see, however, pre-produced commercials will work to your advantage. Once you have selected your commercials, your final decision is choosing between advertising on cable or broadcast television. Keep this in mind “reach vs. frequency.” Broadcast television can reach up to 14 counties. This means you will reach a vast number of people in your region. This is effective if you have multiple locations and need to connect with a larger area. Cable advertising offers a more concentrated reach. Advertising on broadcast is much more expensive, so if you only have a single location why invest money to reach people five counties away who will never drive that far to see you? Statistics show that it takes seven times for a viewer to remember your message. This means it is important to consistently air your commercial. Broadcast advertising is expensive so be prepared to make the investment if you choose to air on broadcast. For example, the cost to air a commercial during a 1999 episode of The West Wing in the Dallas market was $12,000. If you do have a bigger budget and can only invest in buying one expensive spot, you could consider airing only once since you will be reaching a large number of viewers. Still, consistency is more effective and the chance of making an impact with only one airing is slim. Generally, airing frequently on cable is more practical for the local business. The average cost of cable is $1 for every 2000 households and Nielsen Media estimates there are three people per home with nearly 80% of homes having cable. This averages out to cost $5-$25 a spot. There are two kinds of spots available: rotator and fixed spots. A fixed spot is more expensive and means your commercial is run at a specific time every day. A rotator spot airs randomly during a specific time frame, 6 a.m. to midnight for example. Because rotators are less expensive, you can run several during the day making sure to saturate your market. Obviously there is a lot to consider when deciding on how to market your credit union. Weigh the options and look at your specific needs. Dollar for dollar, television advertising is the most cost-effective strategy you can use.</p>

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