Want to learn national media planning on the highest level?
Then you need to pay attention to Jeff Fisher, one of the best in the business.
In this episode of Ignite Visibility University, Jeff discusses how to spend millions of dollars in marketing efficiently, how and when to use celebrity endorsements, covers new methods of tracking, and much more.
Listen to the Full Podcast:
Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts.
John Lincoln: Hi everybody, welcome to another Ignite Visibility University. Today I’m so excited. I have Jeff Fisher here, Managing Partner at LMA Advertising. Jeff is somebody who I’ve known for a long time. He has tremendous expertise in marketing in general, and we’re going to get into all that. We’re also going to get deep into media planning.
But first, Jeff, how you doing today? And welcome to the show.
Jeff Fisher: John I appreciate it. I’m doing very well. I mean, how could I not be, I’m in the most beautiful place in the world right now.
John Lincoln: Yeah, so we’re both here in San Diego, but you’re not originally from San Diego.
Jeff Fisher: No, I actually grew up in Pittsburgh and Ann Arbor, Michigan. So I’m used to cold weather and snow and lack of sun in Pittsburgh. I don’t want to be too hard on Pittsburgh but it probably sees 30 days of sun a year.
John Lincoln: Yeah, there’s not a lot of sun there. So what has your journey been like? I remember speaking at one point, and you were on the radio for a while. And how did you end up coming from there and making your way to San Diego?
Jeff Fisher: Well, that’s a great question. I did. I spent my first 19 years in the media marketing business in radio, first 10 on air. I did a radio show in St. Louis and Pittsburgh and over the years spent time programming radio stations. I realized quickly that the money was in sales and found my way into the sales department one day, and I basically never left. I came to San Diego to oversee sales for a new stock radio station, which is very popular in the market, and then got into television.
I left radio and became the general manager of Cox cable in the ad sales division and spent a lot of time, almost 14 years, on the TV side, specifically in cable. So my wife says, I just don’t know how to keep a job. But I think it’s just getting an array of experience.
John Lincoln: Yeah, I think we hit an interesting point. I think a lot of people want to work on the editorial or publishing side, you know, I worked for a magazine for a long time. But what they don’t realize is when you’re a writer and when you’re on that side, you don’t really make that great of money. Now there are perks to it. You get benefits. You might get some free stuff here and there from PR people. But the pay’s not always great.
Jeff Fisher: Well I’ll tell a quick story. I was programming a station in Missouri and I was talking to about 40 salespeople and people understand the radio business and programming. I was basically telling them what I would and would not allow on the air in terms of sales. I looked out the window and this young lady comes flying in a BMW convertible. And I said to the general manager “who is that” after the meeting. He says she’s in sales. She makes about double what you make. And I said, “Okay. I’m in the wrong business.”
John Lincoln: Yeah. In general, for sales, I believe it’s so important. It’s so fun because you get to structure everything. You get to kind of put it together. I look at it more from the digital advertising side, the perfect campaign. Create the vision, you know, put it all together, you get to help put food on the plate for the people you work with.
That’s really cool that you were at Cox. That is such a big company. What was that role like? I mean, was it stressful? Was it demanding? Was it fun? Invigorating? What was that energy like?
Jeff Fisher: It’s all of that. I will tell you my real role was to develop a team, and that’s probably what I’m best at. It was a lot of corporate pressure, not unlike what you have now since you own your own company and I own my own company.
A lot more corporate pressure, but a lot of a lot of happiness in the sense that you are on the front lines of everything technologically that was happening in the cable industry, specifically in San Diego, we were the first ones to insert advertising, what they called video on demand, and we were the first ones in the country to do that. So you saw a lot of the new technology and were able to play with it a little bit.
But really, my role was to develop a team and we had the Padres back then. We were the TV partner for the Padres and working directly with a major league franchise sports team. I really enjoyed getting to know those people and the in’s and out’s of how to put a good team on the field, which hopefully we’ll do eventually, one of these days.
John Lincoln: I want to that too. So, specifically, you were in charge of selling the media space for Cox Assets, and that’s kind of how you got so good at this media planning side, because you got to see that side before putting it together for clients like you’re doing. Is that correct?
Jeff Fisher: Well, yeah. So I’d say that’s really my competitive advantage in the marketplace is I spent 30, almost 31 years, on the other side of the desk from what I do now. We inserted, if you will, all the local advertising on the cable channels in San Diego, and then I also oversaw Orange County for a while. So Southern LA, if you will, or Southern Orange County, we inserted all the advertising, not only in the Padres but on ESPN and Fox News and CNN and all the local advertising you saw came through our organization.
The dirty little secret, funny really, is that cable was out billing every broadcast TV station. For those who don’t know, broadcast would be your ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox. And it was interesting because it was a fun time to be in cable. That, of course, as you all know, is all changing as technology has changed and the cord-cutting is hitting and the way people get their TV, or I’ll just call it video, is changing rapidly. And so I don’t think we could replicate those types of successes today based on technology. But yes, we were on the cutting edge of all that back in the late 90s, early 2000s.
John Lincoln: And so now you’re at LMA Advertising, Managing Partner. I’ve known you for a long time. We put together some great media plans doing some digital, and a lot of the top-level strategy for some amazing clients, and I’ve seen you do your work. And I think it’s just amazing. So when we’re working together, or when you’re working on your own. And of course, we have many accounts that don’t touch, and when you’re putting together a media plan, say you’ve got a company, maybe they’ve got a $5 million or a $10 million budget, and they’re a national company. How do you start approaching that? What does your strategy look like, and how do you know where to put the money? Because one thing for me, it’s so confusing with so many different areas. They can advertise offline, online, wherever. So tell me a little bit about your approach. I think the listeners would love to hear about it.
Jeff Fisher: Well, thank you for saying that. The very first thing I look at is the sales funnel in any company, and think about the way you make a purchasing decision. There’s a sales funnel that goes from awareness to interest to research to consideration, down to purchasing
What I like to do is sit with clients and say, let’s talk about this model. Because depending on where you’re at in this photo, there are certain strategies and tactics that I would use to make you better in those areas. For instance, I always tell this story. There is a file in everyone’s head for every product and service. If I said a certain product or service immediately you would think of a company. Well, if I’m working with somebody and I mentioned, let’s say auto body collision repair center, and that’s their company and nobody knows who they are, then I need to spend some time on awareness. I need to get people to understand who they are, why they’re in that space, and what’s their competitive advantage.
So we’ll take a look at the sales funnel first. Then we’ll look at research. I’m very much analytical, very analytically driven. I like to look at research, where are your consumers, what are they are consuming, what types of mediums are they consuming for how long, how much, and then, of course, we to into consideration that obviously not everybody can afford to be everywhere. So to decide what makes the most sense we sit down and probably pour over as much research as we can before we actually put that media plan together.
But you know, I think it all goes back to that sales funnel. If I’m really not doing well at the end of that funnel, I’m going to spend more money in digital media because let’s face it, that’s where people are making their purchasing decisions. They’re going online, they’re comparing certain companies to others, and that’s of course where your Yelps and these come into play in terms of online reviews. And then, you know, can we get them to pull the trigger and ask for a quote or come in. So all that goes into it, it’s not something we think of in a day or two.
We spend days thinking about what makes the most sense for this particular client, based on where they are in the sales funnel and what we need to do to increase their business. Because the bottom line is, marketing is really just a tool to solve a business challenge, and whatever that business challenge is we’ve got to figure out what the best marketing tool is to help do that.
John Lincoln: That makes sense. It does. And one of the things that’s interesting, I feel like a lot of people got really excited about digital marketing over the last, really 10 years, and over the last five, it started to get a little bit more saturated. I’m seeing that inventory and cost per impression and that awareness-building through TV and connected TV is becoming less expensive. And for me, working with larger and larger companies now, I just see so much value there. And I feel like people got really hot on digital cost per acquisition but they forgot about how important it is to create awareness, especially around a new product or a new service line. Everything can’t just be demand-driven. some things need to be awareness-driven.
So one question I would ask for you. Say that you had a $10 million budget in California. What does that specific ratio look like for TV and for radio, and what would you use for awareness? How would you kind of structure something like that? And feel free to comment on any of those other points I made as well.
Jeff Fisher: Well, I think that is the million-dollar question, honestly. We get asked by every single advertiser, every single company we work with what percentage should I put into digital, what percentage should I put into, even internal employees versus branding and traditional media. It depends on the product. It depends on how crowded the field is. But let’s take your example of $10 million. I’m probably going to put 40% to 50% in traditional media, depending on where they’re at in that brand awareness. So then I would take a look at, let’s take TV. If I were going to use TV, I probably am going to focus on a product or service that’s aimed to a 35 + individual. Because when you start looking at the consumption of television, it’s over six or seven hours a day for somebody over the age of 55. So when you look at TV and look at it from that critical eye, you’ll see a lot of products aimed at an older adult because they’re there. That’s where you can reach them. That’s where they get to know your product or services.
Somebody more of an 18 to 49 year old demographic, I’m probably going to spend less on that branding and more in the digital space, and that could be could be digital TV, it could be Pandora, it could be Spotify, which are obviously digital audio. So when I say digital I want your listeners to understand that that could be video, it could be audio. It’s just coming in digitally. So it depends on the product, depends on the service, depends on where there’s a hole, or potential whole, but I put all of those considerations into it and then obviously what the new thing is for me is trackability. We’re using pixels. We’re putting them on clients’ websites to tell, you know, for radio ad placement, what happened to their website in that 10 minute period after the radio ad?
Now, not all that’s going to be attributable to radio, but we do see spikes when we have specifically endorsement radio. So that’s what I’m excited about now is some of these new technologies, allowing me to track what the radio, the TV. even the outdoor were there geo fencing. The outdoor sign and saying this particular person drove by it, they saw it, and then they went to your website. I think trackability is helping me make better-informed decisions as it relates to all of this in general, which has been something the digital side has had for a while. And that’s really been the advantage of digital if you think about it.
John Lincoln: That’s interesting. One thing that you really hit on is the advertisement side. And when I think about TV, and I don’t do a lot of this, but I do run ads on the Google Display Network, so I know the exact advertisement that I would run on the exact website and I can overlay it with the exact demographic and things like that. So I have that going through my head, but what goes through your head when you pick a TV station and you pick an advertisement? And now with advertisements lately, are you getting more people who are trying to create conversion-based TV ads? Are you getting more people who are more awareness based? Are there any trends around that?
Jeff Fisher: Well, there are. There’s two kinds, we do both direct response advertising on TV, and that’s where you’re buying just a ton of commercials. Typically that’s on cable. You’re buying a ton of commercials aimed at a specific demographic, and so with that you’re putting tracking numbers on it. You’re running, you know, 800 to 900 rating points a week. You are really trying to get that out there and to get somebody to do something, then there are those ads that are more about creating brand awareness and those look for specific channels or specific programs that fit that demographic.
For instance, let’s just say we do some political advertising here. You are not looking for Republicans, so you don’t necessarily go for Fox News or Democrats, you’re looking for Independents, those people that have an ability to affect an election. And so we do a lot of research on which networks, which programs are aimed or are targeted to that particular demographic, in this case, independent voters. So it just depends on what you’re trying to do. I don’t like direct response TV, unless it’s national. Doing it at all at local levels is too difficult. So if you watched cable late at night, you’re gonna see a lot of direct response advertising, like the pillow guy who’s he’s out there running 300 commercials a night across 10 to 20 networks and that’s getting the direct response.
John Lincoln: Do you think he’s making any money, the pillow guy? He must be if running ads so much.
Jeff Fisher: He totally he is. I’ll tell you, direct response television and direct response radio, there are metrics associated with that on a weekly basis they put out there, how many calls came, and usually, they have a dedicated phone number, so they that and then direct responses is an interesting statistic and direct response advertising. Usually, somebody goes to your website and it’s about a 3%-5% conversion, meaning that 3%-5% of those people who went from an ad on TV to your website will convert into a sale if they actually call you. That number’s closer to 30% to 35% so you’re trying to drive calls. But there’s a ton of metrics around that. There’s a ton of metrics on what’s working, what’s not working, and people make weekly buying decisions based on that.
So yes, it’s working for him or he wouldn’t be doing it.
John Lincoln: You touched on something there, you talked about national. And when I think about TV and radio and a lot of the over the top stuff, I think about our larger clients, usually the ones who I would say make almost Over 20 million in revenue. But in San Diego, I see people who are local businesses who are advertising. So when’s the right time to get started in television? What budget do you really need to get started? And then walk me through a little bit of how it goes right from when you start all the way up to a mature, national campaign when everything’s firing. What does that look like?
Jeff Fisher: Well, good question. I would not go into TV, let’s just take a market the size of Phoenix or San Diego unless you have at least $10,000 to $15,000 a month to invest in television, I would advise you not to go there. And again, it’s what are you trying to accomplish with that TV. If you’re trying to create some brand awareness, you may buy a TV show with a high reach coming up this summer’s Olympics, which will be on NBC. The cost to get in the Olympics is not inexpensive but the reach you get is extremely high. I wouldn’t use it to do a direct response campaign but to make people aware of who you are, then the Olympics is a good place.
The Super Bowl, obviously it’s cost-prohibitive, even on a local basis where, you know, a market like San Diego or Phoenix that local ad for the Superbowl is $100,000 to $200,000 for 3-second commercial. That’s not something I would advise a new advertiser to do. It’s just not worth it.
But you really want to create a consistent campaign. You want to be on as often as you can. But unless you’re willing to invest at least $10,000 to $15,000 a month, it’s not worth it. Now if you want to go national, that depends on distribution. So whether you have brick and mortar, obviously, or whether you have a distribution house where you’re selling these products. Again, you have to look at your cost. What’s my return on that investment, and does it make sense? I will tell you the average national direct response TV spend spenders probably doing $100,000 to $200,000 a week. So it’s not an inexpensive venture.
John Lincoln: Yeah, those are kind of the numbers that I was thinking. That sounds about right. I have a couple clients that spend hundreds of millions, so that’s really interesting to me. And one of the things that I’ve learned by sitting in these all day media planning things is that there’s been some new innovations that have gone and happened with TV and radio and tracking, and it seems like all of these older mediums are really getting more mature and more innovative and they’re finding out new ways to create attribution. Because marketers really want to know if I ran that ad, did it convert.
So I’ve heard about some of the tracking abilities. So talk to me just a little bit about any type of geo fencing. Talk to me a little bit about any new ways that people are tracking these mediums and just any new innovations that you’re excited about right now.
Jeff Fisher: Well, I would say that its tracking. I mean there are a couple of different products out. There’s LaserX, there’s TV squared, these are products that are taking a look at your Google Analytics, as well as just in general, they’ve got a pixel on your website. And when those ads run, what happens is, at the end of the week, you put in all the run times of your ads and you see what happened to the website. They create through algorithms basic live web activity, let’s say, and then they overlay that with radio commercials or TV commercials. Or, as I mentioned, outdoor where they’ll put a little geo fence on the board so they know who went by it.
Yeah, those are getting to be a lot more effective because you hit the nail on the head. The advertisers and the businesses are demanding it. You know the old adage 50% of it doesn’t work. I don’t know which 50% is no longer acceptable to anybody. And so they have to figure out what is working and what’s working the best. And what’s my cost per lead. We have a national client. It’s a medical client and every week, we track where did he or she have the best results and what mediums, believe it or not, for this particular product newspapers performing.
So again, it just depends on the product, but yeah, I think tracking is the key. And it was necessary for these mediums to compete. We’ve been at this a long time. The pendulum swung about four or five years ago where everybody said I need to just be on the digital side. And we had advertisers just put it all into digital and all of a sudden they said wait a minute, my branded searches went to nothing. I said, I know, because you lost your brand. And you got to keep that brand out there. So I think it’s coming back. And I think we’re trying to find a sweet spot. That’s one thing. I love working with you guys, you’re very good at that, and I think that in the end it benefits the company that we’re working with.
Yeah, I really agree. And one of the things that, you know, you might think about Ignite. We drive a ton of leads for ourselves every month, but we we do a lot of awareness stuff that people don’t know about. So just a ton on YouTube, a ton on the Display network, a little bit of connected TV stuff and it’s mostly me creating content and just kind of putting it out there. And as people start clicking on ads and learning about us, they go further down in the funnel and they eventually convert. And that’s a little bit about how our marketing works. So you got to keep building the brand. I think the brand, over time, for any business is the most important thing. I learned a lot from you over the last five or six years, watching you and learning about it, and one of the things I wanted to ask you, is sometimes some of our clients have a celebrity who endorses their product and sometimes they don’t. And I just wanted to ask you what goes into your mind? Whether or not you’re recommending a celebrity endorsement? Is that right for every business? Who’s the right person for that?
Jeff Fisher: That’s a great question. We have a national client called Swiss America that sells gold and silver coins, and we use a gentleman by the name of Pat Boone, who you probably don’t know. But that was an actor and a singer in the 50s and has been around for an awfully long period of time. He’s a great endorser of that product because the product is aimed at an older adult.
I think it depends. I’ve worked with a company, we used Mike Ditka, the former Bears coach, for an aftermarket auto warranty program that worked very well. I don’t recommend it all the time because people also have opinions of these people, and sometimes not always favorable. So you have to ask yourself, am I getting with a particular person or personality that people identify with and, more importantly, like? You know the reason radio morning show hosts do so well is that the listener identifies with that person and they want to try the products and services that they use. So that’s why I use some endorsements on radio.
It’s a great question, John, I don’t think there’s a great answer other than to say, is that person somebody that the public that you’re trying to reach identifies with, likes, and is likely to try the product because they try it?. And if the answers come up yes, then it’s probably worth the investment.
John Lincoln: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect answer. Does their following match the buyer persona, and if that’s the case, then there’s a chance that might make sense. I’ve seen Capital One getting so many large celebrities involved in those campaigns, and most cost a fortune, 10s of millions a year for those contracts to run an annual campaign to those celebrities.
So that’s really interesting stuff. And as we’re kind of winding down here. I want to ask you a couple more questions about marketing and then ask you what’s coming up next for you and what’s big for you. But on the marketing side, what does a good marketing plan look like? What types of things are you recommending in general? What’s the full scope of service offerings? Walk me through that/
Jeff Fisher: Well, I think, first of all, let’s take a how well your brand is known, If it’s not known, we would put together a brand awareness campaign. If it is well known then how do we keep it out there? You still have to keep it out there but you probably don’t spend as much.
I am loving the products that are on the digital side. The fact of the matter is that we have retargeting and native advertising and all those things go into how people are making decisions. So you know if I’ve got a good brand, I’m going to keep it out there. If I want to get more people to my website and show more interest in my product, I’m going to be heavily into digital, specifically native advertising.
And then how are we converting? What are the conversion points, and how can I get drive conversions to whatever they’re going to construe as a conversion, whether it’s a lead fill out or a call or something like that. And what seems to be pulling for him.
So I’m jazzed about native. I love it. And I think that’s a big part of all the companies that we work with, we’re using a lot more of that. So as the technology continues to evolve, we are going to continue to look, and look to guys like you, to tell us what we should be doing. I have a guy who’s heavily into the artificial intelligence area and he’s telling me about some of the things that they’re doing on the marketing side and I’m listening to them going, man, that that stuff is just crazy. And it’s actually working. It’s getting to the point where through artificial intelligence, they’re able to tell what somebody’s going to do before they know they’re going to do it. And being in front of them with that product or service, this is kind of an interesting thing. So I think the future’s bright for marketing in general. I think it’s a crowded area. I think there’s a lot of different ways you can do it, but I think you get with a good firm that understands and you work closely with them. I think you’ll find some success.
John Lincoln: I think it is. I think it is a crowded area. I just see people who only do SEO or I see people who only do maybe radio and it’s just crazy now. I’ve got people, current clients, that are really interested in TikTok. I’ve got clients who have built a whole business model off of Snapchat. We’ve got clients who have built a whole business off of Instagram and they’ve never even touched email or push notifications. They don’t have a chatbot. They’ve never done TV and radio. There are so many different ways to slice and dice it. And so that’s why you and I, we’ve always kind of aligned on this cost per acquisition framework, looking at what’s working, scaling what’s working, and kind of moving it forward.
So I had a couple other questions for you and wanted to ask you, what’s exciting in your life right now? Anything big coming up that you want people to know about? Any big new initiatives, or are you just doing the day-to-day? Anything exciting going on?
Jeff Fisher: Well I’ll tell you what’s exciting to me now is grandkids. I got two grandkids. For those of you who don’t, who are perhaps going to have them someday it’s, you know, children are the most prized and gifted thing you can be given, but I’ll tell you, grandchildren aren’t too far behind them. I enjoy them more than anything. Mostly, John, because I give them back at the end of the night, but I love my grandkids.
My wife and I, I work in the business with my wife, which has its own set of challenges we could spend two hours on. But I work with her. We are in the process of buying a building to move our company to. So I’m looking at doing that. That I gotta be honest, I just started that process and got I got an offer accepted and that’s a full-time job going through, getting all of the documents done, and all of the inspections done. And it’s just occupying a lot of my time. I’ll be happy when it’s over. But I think it’s well worth the investment.
So I would say grandkids, buying the building, and working day to day on this is keeping me pretty occupied.
John Lincoln: That’s very cool. Well, thank you so much for being on today. And everybody, I just want to let you know Jeff is a really fantastic media planner and his knowledge of national campaigns is really cool to see. I’ve been in so many presentations, at least 15 a year for the last five years, watching you put together national media plans for businesses and he really does a great job educating and bring it all together.
So Jeff, thank you so much for being on today. Where can people find out more about you and and reach out?
Jeff Fisher: Well John, thank you for the kind words. I appreciate that. Yeah, you can reach out to me at LMAWorldwide.com, and we’d be happy to talk to you about whatever you wanted to talk about. But that’s probably the best way. See, I said them digitally LMAworldwide.com.
So thanks for having me on. I really enjoyed it. I would say for your listeners that you do one heck of a job and I love the way you look at marketing and the way that you actually put plans together as well on your side. So thank you for having me today.
John Lincoln: Awesome, thanks so much for being on, Jeff. Appreciate it. Have a good day and we’ll talk to you soon.