The other day, I was talking to a specialist for a small nonprofit organization. Without going into much detail, this organization provides specialized education for individuals looking to go into full-time missions in some capacity. Like most nonprofit organizations, this nonprofit has limited funds and is usually on a very tight budget.
In my conversation with this marketer, they told me about a potential game-changing opportunity that could really help them out. This organization was approached by PBS and some other TV stations to do have a three to four minute promotional video that would air on PBS, The History Channel and other similar stations. This station estimated that the viewership for this extended commercial would be about 60 million. There was only one catch… It would cost them a mere TWENTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!
My jaw about dropped when I heard the amount of money that this television station was asking for, just to have 3-4 minutes of airtime. I was even more surprised that this organization was seriously thinking about how they could scrape together the funds to make it work.
While $23,000 dollars is a lot of money, that is just a drop in the bucket for many television commercials, so why was I so flabbergasted with this specific case?
- 60 million viewers sounds awesome, but it is a very skewed number. Because of the nature of this organization, the target audience is an extremely small niche. There are not even 60 million people in the United States who would want to attend this institution of higher learning. I suspect that 99.999% of these 60 million viewers would be annoyed by this extended commercial and would either mute the TV or more likely change the channel.
- With such a broad television audience, the ROI would be very difficult to track. Unless this nonprofit used a special TV promotion code or landing page, it would be nearly impossible to figure out a return or loss on the investment.
- Finally, $23,000 is a lot of money to recoup, and with such tight finances, this could be devastating to the given nonprofit.
I am not saying that I am against all forms of television commercials, although I’m not a big fan. I am saying that you should be wary about the channels you use to communicate and promote your products. Know where your audience is, and know what channels they are using to make their purchasing decisions. Don’t accept the lie that in order to be successful in, you must spend a lot of money on promotion. You can do a lot on a low budget. My advice for this nonprofit was to spend more time during college recruiting trips on campuses who had similar ideologies, conduct Facebook ads for those colleges, and work on their SEO to attract new potential leads.
*As a side note, I’m not against all television commercials for marketing efforts. I just think they require a lot of work, excellent strategy and implementation, and usually a lot of money. If you have used them and found them to produce a high ROI, I’d love to hear from you!