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Andy Malis: Advertising Your Store on TV or Radio in 2016? Good Luck!

Election year requires a shift in marketing strategy.

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AN IMPROVING ECONOMY, a presidential election and the Olympics. All in the same year. It’s the perfect storm. And not in a good way for advertisers.

What does it mean for your advertising plans? Trouble. Lots of it. It means higher rates and tight inventory. It means making plans and then seeing your ads bumped for endless campaign commercials.

Who can you thank for this mess? The politicians. They passed a law that guarantees all broadcast TV and radio commercials sold to candidates must be at the station’s “lowest unit rate” during the 45-days before a primary and 60-days before a general election. Well, guess what? The “lowest unit rate” will not be that low. And you’ll pay a lot more if you can even get on the air.

Even conservative estimates predict that spending by all candidates in the 2016 presidential election will surpass $5 billion, double the level in 2012. Add in all state and local races, plus issue-based advertising and the total will be $10 billion.

Who wins? The media. Who loses? Just about anyone who relies on TV and radio advertising to drive traffic to their stores.

If you don’t have a proactive plan in place to deal with this, start now. Here are five things to do today to protect your sales in 2016.

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1 Love your customers like never before. Make sure you have their email addresses. Remember their birthdays and anniversaries. I’m not a huge lover of direct mail (it has the highest cost-per-thousand of any medium), but this year I am. Use it. Plan more events like private sales and market them directly to your existing customer base — direct mail, email, social media, personal contact, etc.

2 Shift some of your budget from TV and radio to online. Social media advertising works and it’s cheap. Review your search engine marketing program and make sure it’s performing. If not, get a second opinion. Make sure your website is up-to-date and that you have a mobile version.

3 Completely avoid the 45- and 60-day windows prior to the election. In most states, there will be nothing but political advertising running during this time. In 2012, people started to deliberately tune out. They started watching more on-demand and online programming. This is particularly so for millennials, your best bridal clients. They’re watching 23 percent less TV than just five years ago.

4 Leverage volume and relationships. The TV and radio stations know this party will end on Nov. 8. If you’ve been a regular advertiser, they’ll say they’ll try to look out for you. But, don’t kid yourself. The stations are gorging on this money. If you don’t use an ad agency or media buying firm, this may be the year. Because they represent lots of advertisers in the marketplace, the stations will be a lot more concerned about them than they will be about a single advertiser. Any good agency will know the daily inventory situation and be able to get the best deals.

5 Trust but verify. If you use an agency, find out how they monitor your buys. Many agencies track commercials as they air. That way they know if your spot was bumped immediately and can ask for a make good.

Is there a silver lining? Yes, save as much as you can for the 2016 holiday season. Starting Nov. 9, own the retail jewelry category in your market. Prices will still be high because of pent-up demand, but if you plan right, you’ll get through this. Good luck!

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