Thursday, July 25, 2024

How to Advertise Your Business on Cable TV

Nothing gets the phone ringing and the orders coming in like lots of big media advertising. Newspapers, TV, and major Internet sites reach thousands, even millions, of potential customers around the clock.

Even with the breathtaking development of the Internet, Television remains the king of media. Almost 99% of North American homes have at least one television. The average person watches TV seven hours each day. And people consistently say they get most of their news and information from television, especially local TV news.

TV advertising is also very expensive. With prime-time 30 second commercials in medium-sized cities costing several thousands dollars each, broadcast TV ads are out of reach for most small and medium sized businesses. Mass appeal television lacks the ability to closely target the audience. Even if you can scrape together enough for a few TV commercials, much of your investment can be wasted on thousands of people who aren’t interested in what you sell.

Cable TV provides a solution, especially for small business. Cable TV ads tend to be dirt cheap, even though their audience is huge. Over half of all American homes subscribe to cable. Cable’s subscribers watch more television and have higher incomes. Cable also has the ability to send your commercials to specific parts of town and neighborhoods.

Many media experts are recommending cable TV advertising to their clients. “Prime time spots on broadcast TV cost $2,000 to $3,000 in this area. Prime time cable spots go for $175,” says Leslie Speidel, a media buyer in Raleigh, North Carolina (

Commercials on cable systems in the suburbs outside New York City are cheaper. Your 30 second spots run on CNN and ESPN for $25. Nick goes for $20 and TNN, BET, and VH-1 are $15 per commercial. Expect to get better rates when you buy packages of multiple spots.

Small town cable prices are even lower. It is not unusual to buy commercials for $2 to $3 in a town of 40,000 people.

While most of the commercials on cable TV programs are national spots for major corporations, four to six commercials per hour are made available to local advertisers. New digital technology allows many cable systems to easily and accurately schedule your commercials on specific channels to be seen in chosen communities and neighborhoods. “This new digital capability is great for placement purposes. The target is very focused. The geographic area is as big or as small as you want,” Speidel points out. “Plus, the price of spots is affordable.”

The ability to target specific groups of viewers is one of cable’s most important advantages. A clothing store specializing in kids cloths can advertise on the Family Channel. A pool maintenance service can put their spots on the Weather Channel. In most cases, regular broadcast TV with more general programming would be inefficient advertising for specialized businesses like these. Take claims of big audiences with a grain of salt. It’s not the number of eyeballs watching but a carefully targeted audience that gets results for your business.

Cable rates, like everything in media, are highly negotiable. Some channels will cost more than others. The zones you choose to send your spots to, the size of your town, and the time of year will all have an influence on the spot price you pay. Don’t wait until the last minute to place your spots. Plan weeks in advance. Placing your order early will ensure you get the times and channels you want at a lower price.

Call the sales department of your local cable operator. Find out spot rates and coverage areas. Take some time to build your plan. Media sales people are good at devising clever strategies to use your entire ad budget, so trust your own instincts and stay in control of the process

Getting your commercial produced can be expensive and time consuming. A razzle-dazzle TV spot will easily cost thousands to produce. Keep costs down by planning your spot carefully. You won’t want to make costly revisions while the production crew is there with the hourly meter ticking. Look into small one and two person TV production services popping up in many cities.

Dramatic commercials with actors are best left to the networks. For a small business on a limited budget they rarely work out and often look amateurish. Keep your concept simple. Limit the number of locations. Budget time for changing lighting and mics from shot to shot. Shoot outside to avoid indoor lighting hassles.

Cable is leading the way to a digital future when “smart” TVs will be coupled with a computer. Cable has the ability to transmit Internet web sites 33 times faster than a phone line. TCI Cable’s @Home Internet service paid almost $7 billion for Excite, one of the most popular sites on the web. Cable TV is rushing to toward a high-tech future where your TV, computer, and the Internet all work together to provide more choices and better targeting for advertisers.

No matter how large or small your ad budget, check out Cable TV. The power of television to demonstrate your products and services is hard to beat. Low cost cable is a sure winner for small business.

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, business writing, and popular promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at Reach Kevin at or 801-328-9006.

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