TV advertising is among the most expensive media formats for companies to use, but it also provides plenty of reach and creative opportunities. For small businesses, opportunities in local TV advertising normally are dictated by their ad budgets.

Buying TV Spots

Before buying space for a television ad, you have to produce or create it. This process can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the scope of the project and the number of actors involved. After that, you or your agency contacts local stations or TV networks to discuss media buying opportunities.

TV commercials are purchased as spot packages. Ads normally run as 30 or 60 second spots. Your company presents its budget to the advertising sales rep, who then prepares a placement schedule proposal. Key factors in your schedule include the target audience, length of placements and preferred day parts. After the rep prepares a rotational package, you sign off and your campaign is launched.

When to Use TV

As with other media, TV works when it is the most efficient way to reach your target audience. Given its expense, television advertising is most sensible when your goals are to reach a lot of people and build awareness, according to Capital Media. Local television spots range from $15 to $25 per thousand people, reports Capital. Using the midpoint of this range, a spot reaching a 100,000 people in a city would cost about $2,000. You need the budget and a belief that your product has mass appeal to a broad customer base.

Along with reach, the creative potential of TV ads is a major advantage. If you have a beautiful or high-quality product, demonstrating it through a live-action commercial may help sell it. Unlike radio and print media, TV offers a mix of movement, sound, dialogue and action, which helps capture attention and play on emotional appeals.

When to Avoid TV

Some small businesses have advertising budgets so low, such as $2,000 to $4,000, that they can barely afford to product a commercial let alone run it. Even with money on hand, the benefit-to-cost ratio of television loses its value when your products are more niche, according to Capital.

With a select target market, media efficiency improves with more targeted messaging. Local topic-based magazines may have more efficiency. A fashion retailer promoting through a local fashion magazine likely gets a highly interested audience, for instance. A business-to-business provider that caters to a particular type of buyer would get little value from TV commercials.