Smaller advertisers can’t afford to replicate the strategy of big advertisers. Instead, they have to be careful and use their budget judiciously. For example, prime-time TV is popular with big advertisers. It’s great for national brands that need to get a message out to their whole market simultaneously, for a national product launch or a sale, for example. But prime-time media has a number of disadvantages that will bite small and medium-size advertisers:

  1. Because of the limit to the supply of prime-time advertising, big advertisers will pay a premium of up to 600% over other programming to access the speed and reach of prime-time.
  2. Advertisers pay for every member of the household who’s watching TV. With prime-time TV that can be four or five people per household, instead of just one or two decision-makers.
  3. Because prime-time programming is usually more interesting, and the household is busy with meals and kids, attention and response to advertising is badly affected. A prime-time commercial may reach ten times the audience, but it will generate, on average, only twice the response of a non prime-time spot.

So, if you don’t have a big TV advertising budget, why compete with Mazda and Toyota, Woolworths and Coles, and McDonald’s and KFC for prime-time? Especially when smarter media strategies will deliver a far more productive and cost-effective campaign.

To maximise the reach of your budget, you should choose your TV media using three main media buying criteria:

  1. Which programmes are your target decision-makers watching?
  2. Which of those programmes deliver the decision-makers at the lowest cost per thousand?
  3. What deals can you do to get free bonus spots which could double your spot numbers?

This strategy means you will be buying your target market when it is available at the lowest possible cost. So what if you’re not buying prime-time! You’re reaching the same people. They respond better in non-prime-time viewing hours. You can afford to reach more of them. And even with a modest budget, you can afford to reach them with enough frequency to turn interest into action. You should read a real-life case history of this strategy in action.


  1. I always wonder how small businesses set their budgets for tv promotions and advertisements. I guess being resourceful and creative are just one of the values they have considered for this. Great post such an informative one.

  2. Thanks Jayden. There’s more about how to budget for a TV commercial or video here:

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