Apr 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Few business people would be excited to see their advertising dollars going to the dogs. Keith Starling is an exception; he couldn’t be happier and he says he owes much of his success to local advertising on cable TV.
Mr. Starling is co-owner of Bone Appetit, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., establishment that, among other things, makes bakery products for dogs. He shifted some of his advertising budget from print to cable TV about 21/2 years ago and began seeing results immediately.
“We used to spend thousands of dollars on newspapers and magazines, and we would get maybe one or two people who would come in and say this is how they found out about us. We began getting calls the morning after our first ad ran on cable, and we’ve been getting them every day since,” he said.
“I couldn’t tell you how many new customers have told us they found out about us on cable. When you look at the cost, I can’t imagine how you could get more effective advertising.”
Bone Appetit takes the least expensive route, a run of the station buy from Comcast Spotlight. “We get a lot of different times but it seems to work, because we reach people all day long,” Mr. Starling said.
Mr. Starling was so pleased with his results, he recommended cable advertising to a businessman friend and created another success story.
At his urging, Pride Carpet Cleaning, a one-outlet business in Fort Lauderdale, began advertising on local cable last June, and business has more than doubled since then, said Bill Thornton, who owns the service. Not only have more customers walked in the door, a more affluent clientele has discovered Pride. “Our advertising has opened the door to some high-end neighborhoods, where we didn’t get business in the past,” Mr. Thornton said.
Mr. Thornton takes a different approach than Mr. Starling, targeting his ads toward networks where he feels audiences are most likely to be receptive to a home-improvement pitch-Home & Garden TV, the Food Channel-in addition to programs such as Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
As with Bone Appetit, the impact of cable advertising was apparent right away. “The morning after our first commercial appeared, I got enough new business to pay for half the month’s advertising,” he said.
The new customers told him they became aware of Pride after seeing the spots on cable TV. “They either mention it or we ask them,” Mr. Thornton said.