$3.5M For An Ad— Would You Do It?

Football’s national champion has been crowned, however, the real news for marketing geeks like me was all about—you guessed it – the ads. The reoccurring headline this time of year always comes down to the staggering cost associated with advertising during the game. This year the price tag was around 3.5 million per ad. The question on Monday morning and beyond is, was it worth it?

Now that all of the football-fun is over, I’d encourage you to think though the prior question. As a small business owner, sit back and carefully examine the lessons that come from the big spenders out there. Sure, you may not have several million to drop on one commercial, but I guarantee you that your basic reasons for advertising and marketing aren’t too different than the guys you saw Sunday night.

Let’s move some of the marketing concepts from the big stage down to your small business:


In most cases, small businesses owners should strive for reach when marketing. In simple terms, reach is how many folks you can connect with while advertising via a particular medium. Reach, in recent years, has become scarce due to the fact that consumers are not beholden to one media source, but many. So if you apply that knowledge to the championship game, it becomes apparent why many advertisers are willing to shell out $3.5M for one ad. This one investment allows them to connect with nearly 100 million people at one time. If you happen to be contemplating a large investment in your marketing be sure that the reach you get justifies the cost.

Residual Benefits

I’ve always believed that the best ads are the ones that people discuss when standing around the water cooler.  In other words, if you’re doing a good job on your marketing, folks will recite your ads even when there’s no TV or radio in sight.  I call this the residual benefit of advertising.  Have any of the companies come up in conversation since Sunday?  Those that stand out in your mind (whether you liked the ad or not) have done their job. Now think about your marketing; if you hear very little talk about your marketing efforts, it may be that you’re getting little to no residual benefits from your investment.

Brass Tacks

So, now it’s time to pick a winner; who gets your vote for best ad? Does that also mean you will go out and purchase the featured product? If your answer is no, there’s a problem; in fact I’ll go a step further and say there’s a waste of money. With this example in mind, always remember that the ultimate success of your marketing can never be gauged by creative awards and accolades. Marketing success will always be determined by the activity at your cash register. Understand that there’s nothing wrong with creativity, however if it does not translate into foot traffic, it may be time to rethink the tenets of your marketing campaign.

Walter Dailey is a small business marketing consultant and speaker with Dailey Sound Vector Media. DSV Media is a creative services company which features an ad review service for small and medium sized businesses throughout the North America.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com