Monday, May 29, 2000


Making the most of ads

        The challenge confronting chiropractor and alternative medicine proponent David Dahlman is faced by just about every service provider and business owner: how to get more people in the door.

        His goal, he said in a recent telephone conversation, was to drive women ages 25 to the mid-50s to his Hyde Park Holistic Center for alternative medicine treatment.

        He knew there was probably a growing Greater Cincinnati niche for his service, but he did not know how to strategically develop a workable ad plan to reach core customers.

        Executives at broadcast television stations advised him to buy their media product because, after all, women watch TV. He wondered if he should, instead, snag female customers with spots on the surging Food Network or HGTV, owned by E.W. Scripps Co.

        Cable providers, newspaper advertising executives — The Enquirer food section is always a solid alternative to generate foot traffic, as newspapers have been since the time of the Egyptians — and radio advertising sales forces mouthed the same line: buy us.

        What Dr. Dahlman wanted to know was, where could he go for a comparative glimpse of what was possible in the world of advertising, what was practical and where was the “eyeball” information that was both valid and — magic word here — free? So he called the Enquirer.

Outlets galore
        There is a foggy swamp of advertising possibilities out there. Cincinnati has two daily newspapers, a big bunch of free and nearly-free weekly newspapers, 31 radio stations ranging from peanut-whistles to 50,000-watt flame throwers of truth and then the television stations. Cable television has dozens of opportunities.

        Dr. Dahlman did not have pockets deep enough for ready-fire-aim: that is, buy an ad, hope for customers, buy another ad, hope for customers. Where ammo is limited, each shot must find a mark. He wanted an eyeball-to-dollar ratio for all the above outlets — just like every other service businesswith an ad budget.

        Robin Lind, co-author with Kitty Williams of Essential Business Websites ($12.95; Hope Springs Press), suggested a search of the Web with the Fastweb search engine or

        A quick search using using the words “media, planning, campaign, free and advice” led to and 16 tips on how to create a low-cost promotional campaign.

        Sometimes, it's a good idea to put a call in to the local international consumer products giant to ask a mid-level manager about viewership, or call a local business school where a former consumer products executive might work, he said. “If P&G didn't write the book, they blazed the trail and paved the highway,” Mr. Lind said.

        Neil Burns, professor at the University of Texas department of advertising in the college of communications, said electronic media such as daytime television and radio may reach slightly more women than men because they will tune in while at home or work.

Internet is with-it
        “That's the conventional wisdom,” he said. “The more interesting issue today with women is the Internet. It targets contemporary women.”

        Then again — at the risk of sounding self-serving and self-aggrandizing — so does the food page.

        John Eckberg can be reached at or (513) 768-8386.


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