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Tips for Creating TV Commercials

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Television advertising has become much more affordable over recent years but if it doesn’t work it can still be a very expensive exercise. The success of your television advertising campaign depends on the level of targeting and the quality of the commercial.

The following tips illustrate how to avoid the potential pitfalls and create a television commercial that gets results.

Decide on a Budget

Without knowing your total budget for the whole campaign it’s impossible to know how much to spend on your commercial. Decide on a set budget and stick to it. In general the commercial should cost in the region of 10-20% of the total cost of the campaign to produce.

Hire a Production Company

Some companies, particularly in the US, produce their own television commercials in-house but this isn’t recommended. The agency you are using to plan your campaign should be able to recommend a good quality production company. Bear in mind that they are probably receiving a commission for making the recommendation so always do your own research.

If you’re searching for a production company on your own don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s best to arrange a meeting to discuss the commercial, as this also helps to identify who are the third-party agencies who simply receive your brief, pass it over to a production company, and charge you a fee for doing so.

Before confirming anything arrange for a contract to be drawn up that states the objectives of the commercial and a breakdown of the costs. This prevents any extra unexpected costs arising once the commercial is being produced.

Finally, after hiring a production company don’t take a hands-off role. The may be professionals but their professional producers, not marketers. Make sure that they always have the original concept and vision in their minds, otherwise they may drift and produce a fantastic visual commercial which simply doesn’t produce sales.

Decide on the Type of Response Required

There are two main types of television commercials – immediate response and branding.

Immediate response commercials are particularly common in the US and focus on encouraging the viewer to take action immediately, usually through phoning a number. Commercial ads in the UK sometimes focus on immediate response as well, particularly finance and loan consolidation companies.

Branding commercials focus on image association, where the aim is to make viewers feel good about a brand through the imagery. Most commercials in the UK, particularly on the mainstream channels, focus on branding.

The advantages of immediate response commercials are that you can tell instantly whether the ad is working through simply checking call statistics. The downside is that it only tends to work for business products and services, and some local consumer services if the commercial reaches a highly targeted audience.

Realistically, branding commercials are most suited to large firms advertising commercial goods. The resultant brands can be very powerful but it takes a lot of time and money to reach the desired result.

The Quality of the Commercial

The quality is likely to be linked to the size of your campaign. It makes little sense spending 50% of your budget on producing a great commercial, but at the same time you don’t want your campaign to fail because of a poorly produced one.

In general, keep the cost of producing the commercial to less than 20% of your total television advertising budget, and take into account the type of commercial that you’re producing and your product. Branding commercials tend to be more expensive to produce, and if you’re promoting a product where quality is an important attribute it may be worth spending a little extra on the commercial to ensure that the correct image is portrayed.

Take Length into Account

The standard length of a commercial is 30 seconds but you don’t have to stick to this – short commercials can be just as effective. Whatever happens don’t be tempted to add on an extra second or two at the end to try for the sake of a better commercial. This will just simply create problems when trying to edit to ad.

Use People in the Commercial

People relate to other people and one of the goals of an advertisement is to build up a rapport with the prospect. Including people in your commercial will make this much easier to achieve.

Of course there are exceptions – the Budweiser frog commercials are one high profile example.

The Script

You have a very short time to capture peoples’ attention and get across your message. Therefore stick to short, punchy sentences. Don’t forget about the audio – any music or background noise should support the commercial so that people can recognise it’s your advertisement even when not present in the room.

The Call to Action

This is essential for direct marketing, such as leafleting and direct mail. For television advertising a call to action is not always essential. An immediate response commercial should always have a strong call to action, such as “call immediately for a free consultation”, or “call now and quote (promo code) for a complementary free gift.”

Only state one means of contacting you. By all means include your website address on the screen but mentioning that along with a phone number is proven to create confusion amongst prospects, subsequently reducing the response rate.

For branding commercials a call to action is not essential, although mentioning a website address which when visited further reinforces the commercial can work well.

The Next Stage

With your commercial produced the next step is to make sure that the frequency of your campaign is right. Television advertising isn’t as demanding as radio advertising when it comes to repetition, but you should still aim to make sure that your target audience sees your commercial at least twice.

Also, branding commercials require greater repetition whereas you should be able to assess the effect of an immediate response commercial after the first couple of times it is aired.

Finally, don’t forget online distribution. Adding your commercial to websites such as YouTube and MetaCafe will extend its reach and can also produce valuable feedback through peoples’ comments. Hosting your television commercial on your website also reinforces its effect.

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