Interviews

Saluto: Giving SMEs the opportunity to advertise on mainstream TV

7 min read

09 November 2015

As TV broadcasters unveil Christmas schedules over the next few weeks, advertisers will be poring over the programming – deciding when and where to buy airtime.

TV advertising has traditionally been beyond the budget of most small and medium-sized companies which, while running effective online marketing campaigns, might regard YouTube as the only affordable video option. However, one SME is changing this situation.

Manchester-based Saluto provides a service that allows businesses to get names circulated on national television. The specially-devised format allows anyone in business to create a single advert or campaign advert series, which will be then be televised on mainstream Sky channels and regional TV for much less than has previously been the case. Each can then use this alongside their online marketing.

The company helps a client to identify its customer base and then recommends an appropriate media plan. It also helps with scripting, audio and visual themes. The company has two divisions – salute.tv is business-to-consumer, allowing individuals to create their own video messages, and salute.business, the business-to-business offering.

The idea came about when after Craig Lowther, director and co-founder of Saluto, had exited a number of companies and was considering his options. “Having advertised on TV across various companies for 15 years I thought about making TV accessible not only for individuals but also small business owners,” he explained. “I came up with the idea of giving individuals the chance to get their messages of love, hope, thanks, proposals and music out on TV, in an efficient and affordable way. I then thought how I could make that happen for thousands of small businesses.”

Lowther met Saluto co-founder Ian Barlow while working the legal world, and then after nine years set up his own company offering marketing services to law firms. He then went on to launch four other companies, two of which were sold to consortiums of lawyers and the other developed into a multi-million pound turnover business employing 70 full-time staff. This experience, said Lowther, means that the Saluto team looks at customers’ money as if it were their own.

“We’ve been there and done it so we really understand what it’s like,” he said. “Having come from nothing to where we are today has taken time, patience and hard work. We have learned so much about making TV adverts and buying airtime that we want to pass that on to small businesses and help them avoid costly mistakes, over-priced quotes for the production of adverts and get the best deals we can for airtime.”

The successful business careers of Lowther and his colleagues have allowed them to fund Saluto out of their own pockets. Marketing is being carried out online but also through TV itself – the medium that they are, after all, promoting.

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One of the Saluto.business clients is Act2Cam, a small family-run business based in the North East of England that produces short films and teaching screen acting. It has filmed over 50 short and five feature films, and worked with over 500 young people. It wanted to supplement its online marketing with a TV campaign.

Saluto ensured that Act2Cam’s video was technically appropriate for broadcast and chose the right outlet, in this case SkyAdsmart, a technology that allows different adverts to be shown to different households watching the same programme. As a result, Act2Cam has received a steady stream of telephone enquiries and visits to its website.

For Lowther, although he has a number of companies to his credit, starting from scratch has naturally had its challenges. “I’m an ideas guy and it can be difficult to get people to buy into an idea, then spend a lot of money building it,” he added. “It’s tiring, stressful and it gives you moments of self-doubt but you have to have faith that it will work. Once you get it to market and it works you forget that is was both tough and challenging.”

His aim is to see the B2C, offering Saluto.tv and the personal messages service grow from small numbers into a global service. “All over the world, good people are the same,” he said. “We love our families. We want peace. So why not have fun and express that in interesting ways on TV, a medium which is still as relevant today as it was when TV adverts started appearing in our homes?”

The Saluto technology allows it to edit footage 24 hours a day, seven days a week and to air personal messages across global TV networks. “For Saluto.business,” he said, “I want our name to be synonymous with honesty, integrity and value for money when it comes to TV advertising. I want to shake the market up and show business owners it needn’t cost a fortune to make a TV advert, nor should it in order to get your product or service onto TV. 

“I want to grow this business into a formidable presence in the TV advertising world with thousands of satisfied business owners who stay with us as they grow.”

Lowther’s strategy is look after his customers in part by not charging as much on margins. He said: “I intend to be real and honest with them about how TV advertising works, do good work and build something that means something to me and the people who use Saluto. That’s what I want for the future.”