Promoting your business

“Last year, I got the bug,” says Rick Hooper, owner of Upstate Lawn Services in Greenville, South Carolina. “My wife works for an auto glass company that purchased an infolike commercial from our local cable company. After I saw the finished product, I called the cable company to inquire about it.”

Hooper is describing a three- to four-minute segment designed to profile area businesses. It appears on Charter Media’s “Business Profiles,” a show aired on Charter’s local programming channel.

After talking with Charter, Hooper signed up for a profile of his own. The company sent a camera crew, interviewed Hooper and photographed his equipment in operation, including his two Walker Mowers. The vignette ran on local cable Channel 10 for three months.

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"The entire process was quite easy,” says Hooper, who has been maintaining lawns for 12 years. “The cable company asked me to pick a couple of my properties, and the camera crew met me at the first one on the morning of the shoot. The crew filmed me going into the subdivision and mowing with my Walkers. I was interviewed, and then the crew shot some additional mowing and trimming footage. We followed the same procedure at one of my commercial properties.”

After the interviewing and filming was completed, Hooper was asked to approve an edited version that was to appear on television. “The finished product got my name, my picture, the type of work I do and how I get it done in front of potential customers throughout the Greenville area,” he adds. “The segment made a big deal about the quality of my equipment, including my Walker Mowers, Toro Z-Masters, and Isuzu cab-over truck. It actually generated a great deal of new business for me, and it just seemed to get better and better the more our company appeared on the show.”

Cost-Effective

Hooper’s success story is not unusual, according to Charter Media salesperson Lori Trotter. “The Business Profiles work because they’re back to the basics,” says Trotter, who sold radio before joining Charter. “Viewers feel like they know you after they have seen the segment a couple of times.”

Trotter continues, “The profiles are cost-effective for most small businesses, especially when compared to the cost of other advertising media. In the Greenville market, for example, a three- to four-minute Business Profile running two times a day for an entire month would be about the same cost as four morning drive-time radio slots.”

Trotter explains that the programming targets zip code zones. In other words, viewers from across the state, who would be unlikely customers for Upstate Lawn Services, wouldn’t see the profile anyway.

The Business Profiles program in the Greenville market is aired on Charter’s local origination channel designed to provide information about the local community. Other Channel 10 programming titles include a third season for “Down the Aisle” (a wedding planning show) and a second season for “Adventure Carolina”. A new “Upstate Home & Garden Show” premiered this spring.

“Customers have the opportunity to show and tell viewers what separates them from the competition,” adds Trotter. “That comes across as a powerful message. It’s not hard sell, it’s conveying information. When I was selling radio advertising, I knew a lady who operated a small rock climbing gym with a climbing wall. She couldn’t justify the cost of a radio commercial, but when I moved over to cable advertising, she purchased a Business Profile. It doubled her business in four months. Although I wasn’t involved with selling or producing Rick’s business profile, it sounds like he is pleased with the results. I usually tell customers to give their profile a couple of months before making an assessment.”

Celebrity status Hooper says his television exposure may not land him a role on a network TV show, but it created quite a buzz among family and friends around town. He recounts an evening eating at a local restaurant. “I was sitting there and a young boy at the table next to ours pointed to me and said to his parents, ‘Look, that’s the lawn mower guy!’ If he recognized me, I suspect his parents did, too, as well as many other people around town.”

Being recognized is flattering, but being recognized for what he does is more than flattering; it builds business. Hooper would like to try another Business Profile, if not this year, possibly next. “The price has gone up a little since I did mine, but it still seems reasonable for smaller businesses,” he relates. “In the meantime, I’m giving Yellow Pages a try for the first time, this year. I think it’s costing me around $80 per month for a small display ad.”

What’s the old saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words?” The Business Profile gave Upstate Lawn Services the picture and the words, and it may be just the ticket for other lawn maintenance contractors and Walker Mower users looking to create more than a little buzz around town about the way they do business.

Charter Communications is a nationwide cable company with a presence in most major markets. For more information about cable TV advertising, visit Charter Media at www.chartermedia.com.

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