In Depth

Changing Lanes in the Media Game

Marketers Must Constantly Adjust in Order to Thrive in an Evolving World

By Adam Armbruster

Often in this feature we have written about changes in media usage.

As TelevisionWeek changes from a print publication into a Web-only existence, it seems fitting to wrap up this print column with a discussion of change, and how to maximize your TV advertising dollar by embracing the concept of change itself.

For example, McDonald's restaurants have not changed much since you were a kid, right?
Wrong!

McDonald's continually revises its selling messages to compel us to revisit the restaurant. How dedicated is McDonald's to television? At right is a list of the fast-food chain's various television selling themes over the last 40 years. See how many of these changes in slogan sound familiar to you.

No, McDonald's has not been resistant to changing times; instead they have embraced change. Maybe that's why McDonald's sales are +3% in a recessionary economy.

Changing your mind about change is the first and hardest step.

For example, I enjoy reading TelevisionWeek when flying or while I am waiting in so many client offices for meetings to begin. The print version is irreplaceable in that way. But I also must admit that I also read the daily TVWeek.com e-mails and visit the TVWeek.com Web site once a week to get the latest in trends and TV news. So in reality, I engage with TVWeek electronically six times per week and I read the print version just once.

So if I had to choose to give up one of these mediums, I too would chose to pass on the print model, since my iPhone and laptop give me all of the same TVWeek information, whenever, and wherever, I want to be.

Changing your opinion about change is the hardest part of change.

When planning an effective TV campaign, all of us at ESA & Co. believe that we need to move with the customer, or the customer will move on without us.

Put into TV terms, that means we now need to embrace the fact that our traditional TV viewer has moved to Web video, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. No, we are not losing a viewer; instead, we are gaining multiple ways to engage with that very same viewer.

Here, then, are our best tips to manage through a changing retail and media world.

1. Stay true to your original mission.

Just because the media mix is morphing into something that you did not plan at the beginning of the year does not mean that your original mission of selling boxes, units, cases or tickets changes. In the end, it's all about sales results.

2. Stay close to the cash register.

A campaign is only a success if the person spending the ad dollars generates 10 to 20 times the amount back in revenues. Anything else is a moderate success at best.

3. Remember that the consumer moves with or without you.

Ever see those nature documentaries from Africa? Those giant herds of wildebeests move as a massive crowd and very little can stop them from their migration. This is how consumers move--at a slow and deliberate pace. You'd better be moving with them, or they will leave you behind.

4. Media today is taken for granted.

Ever miss the score on a late-night sporting event? Odds are that before you ever have to do much, you will learn that score as you go about your daily routine. TV, Web ads and monitors everywhere you go will bring that information to you. The consumer is not in love with any media; they just choose which media to use based on their own convenience. It's all about what's easy for them.

5. Always respect the basics of retail television.

The retail covenants apply no matter what new media you are buying. TV ads work because they sell a product or service. Branding is dead in a recession; sell value and urgency if you want to drive business now.

6. Create the excitement to attract the consumer.

I recently read about a software program that enables consumers to "choose" the types of ads that they receive. Asking the consumer to know what they'll want in the future is a fool's game. Consumers live in a "now" world and they have no idea what they might want one week, one month or one year from now.

Stay willing to adapt and you will find that your television advertising campaign will always find ready buyers.

Finally, I want to thank Chuck Ross, Greg Baumann and Tom Gilbert for all of their support these last few years. You have truly produced the best and most-read TV trade magazine--TVWeek.

Here's to new horizons!

Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.