Slimband: Television ads hit the spot

Television ads hit the spot
Mary Teresa Bitti  Jul 2, 2012
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When Lisa Borg joined the Toronto Laparoscopic Band Centre — a surgical weight loss company — four years ago, the company was in a holding pattern. It had been around five years but hadn’t seemed to be able to grow to the next level — even though the weight loss industry was, and still is, booming. Part of the problem was the brand name wasn’t memorable, says Ms. Borg, who was hired as marketing director and is now chief operating officer. “We immediately changed the name to Slimband.”

She is also someone who understands the power of television advertising. She credits an effective TV ad campaign with turning Slimband from a local player into a national company with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax and soon Vancouver. “TV ads played a huge part in our growth. Without TV advertising we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Ms. Borg says.
“In the past four years, we’ve tripled in size. We are the largest weight loss surgery clinic across Canada. It’s a big success story.”
It’s also one that illustrates that, done right, a TV advertising campaign can be less expensive and far more effective than an online social media blitz featuring blogs, a Facebook presence and tweets. The latest Neilsen analysis shows that the TV advertising industry will grow to $317-billion by 2015. TV viewership and the response rates for TV advertising campaigns have never been higher.
It’s a message on which Jenny Munford, founder and chief executive of Milton, Ont.-based Creative Bube Tube, the company behind Slimband’s game-changing ad campaigns, has built her own success. Six years after launching, Creative Bube Tube has three offices and two planned for California — based strictly on TV advertising.

“Television has changed dramatically in the past 10 years and, thanks to a surplus of channels, ad rates have dropped significantly,” Ms. Munford says. A media buy for a 30-second TV spot can go for as little as $10 to $15.

“Many small business owners think a TV ad campaign is too costly for them — it’s not. In Canada alone, we have 250 channels and that translates into a lot more advertising space. You can be incredibly selective as an SMB, place your ads where you know you’ll find your target market and spend maybe $4,000 in a high month. I love to get small businesses on television and have them look like the big guys. The impact on business is huge,” she notes.

The key is to know your unique selling proposition, know your target market and make sure your message is clear, direct and ends with a strong call to action. “Stay away from 25 seconds of entertainment and the last five seconds you find out what the product or service is,” Ms. Munford advises.
“You can do that when you’re Coke or Nike and have that kind of brand recognition. For everyone else, those 30 seconds have to spell out who you are and what you can do for the viewer. Be specific. Sometimes we film three testimonials and that’s it and it works. You don’t need to spend large amounts of money for flashy commercials. It has to mean something so that it will generate leads.”

These are all lessons Ms. Borg at Slimband learned early on. “When I first joined the company, my predecessor in marketing had spent $60,000 on the creative for a very beautiful ad that failed. It featured a school play and the camera panned to three parents in the audience thinking, ‘Will I be there when she marries? Does she get teased because of the way I look? Will she be obese like me?’ But there was no after image. The weight loss industry is visual. You need to see the before and after.”

With TV advertising being so critical in the weight loss industry, she turned to Creative Bube Tube to create their next ad. The result was a straightforward ad that featured Slimband’s patients and cost just $6,000 to produce. The media buy cost another $6,000. “Our message was simple: With Slimband you won’t need to take diet pills, follow complicated meal plans or spend hours at the gym. The patient’s before picture came up along side them. Then we ended with, ‘Say goodbye to dieting, say hello to wow,’ and a strong call to action,” Ms. Borg says. “Our TV campaign was 20% to 25% of our ad budget and when we ran the ad we saw uptake right away. It accounted for 30% of our leads — a good ROI.”

Another key takeaway: Ms. Borg recommends getting a 1-800 number, which rents for anywhere from $50 to $1,000 a month, depending on how customized they are, and comes with tracking software so you know how the call originated. “The more you know about which ad performed better, the easier it is to optimize the campaign in the long term,” Ms. Borg says.

“Good spots on the right channels at a cheap price — that’s the goal.”

The success of any campaign lies equally with the creative/sales messaging and media buying and planning, Ms. Munford says. “Be specific and targeted with where you place your ad. For example, I place my ads for Creative Bube Tube on Dragons’ Den, news hours and BNN because I target chief executives who see us and then get their marketing managers to call us.”

Ms. Borg spends 50% of her advertising budget on TV. “A lot of people dismiss TV as old and expensive,” she say. “But people still watch TV and when the ad is strong, they respond. It’s the cheapest lead I get and that includes the Internet.”

Media Mayor Inc.
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