Media, Marketing & Common Sense ONDO MEDIA | Production & Consulting | Columbus, Ohio.
I’ve been back in my small hometown for a couple weeks helping my parents. My hometown is like so many in our country. A former industrial giant, now dealing with heavy unemployment and many small businesses trying to get a foothold on the corporate giants that have moved in. I’ve been watching the commercials on the local cable and broadcast stations here and noticing that the small market commercial quality is still lacking. In 2014 there is no reason for this. The best technology is available even in the smallest market, so I wanted to give a quick free consult to small businesses on how to improve the quality of your local TV commercials and get more bang for your buck.
Free is too expensive
In my book, How to Avoid a Media Meltdown, I discuss the concept that getting something for free is too expensive. Often when a business owner signs a contract for buy for local TV airtime the TV station or Cable outlet claims they will “give you” the production for free or for “small cost”. Think for a moment if Budweiser or Pepsi used the same concept for their Super Bowl production. What if they spent a millions of dollars for a thirty second slot and throw in a commercial produced for free or for less than a thousand dollars? It would have no impact. The same applies with your five thousand dollar local TV ad purchase. The best time slot won’t attract new customers if your commercial production doesn’t communicate to new customers.
Selling the experience
Life is about experiences. You’re not selling your business on the commercial, you’re selling how the customer will feel after they experience your business. So I always suggest the focus on your script be like this: “Look how good you will look in this new car or dress” or “Your family will have a great experience dining in our restaurant.” I watched a local commercial yesterday where a restaurant was showing how they use hand dipped batter for fish, and they cut to a shot of the uncooked food being dipped in the batter. Gross! I don’t care how it looks in the kitchen, I want to see how the food looks when I experience it. These are common mistakes in local TV commercials. They happen because TV/Cable stations do not have time or money to invest in your commercial. They use cookie cutter templates, and worse yet, sales personnel with no writing experience to create your commercial. Think of it like the person who takes your information in the emergency room performing your surgery.
Invest in Production
Instead of purchasing five thousand dollars of airtime for an ad run for two weeks with free production. Ask your account executive would they give you more air time if they didn’t have to produce the commercial. Sometimes this may give you a little bump. If they don’t give you more airtime that just revealed how little value they had for your spot production.
You’re not selling your business on the commercial, your selling how the customer will feel after they experience your business.
Drop the ad buy to four-thousand and take the thousand and put it toward a nicely produced commercial that you can use for six months to a year. My recommendation is you need to spend at minimum two-thousand dollars for a well produced thirty-second spot that should have a twelve month shelf life or more. That means your cost for the spot is only one hundred seventy dollars a month if you run that one spot all year. If you need to update the spot for seasonal specials, you create what is called a “doughnut”. Where the front and back of the spot are the same and you just inexpensively update the middle with graphics and an updated voice over.
On Camera or Voice Talent
Unless you have a background in theater or radio, business owners should not use their voice on the spot. It creates an instant unprofessional feel to your business brand. Professional voices are available for as little as $100 and will make your commercial compete with the big guys in your town. If you want to put someone on camera, using a well known and liked local sport or celebrity to endorse your business is always a plus.
Who should I use to produce the commercial?
There are many great local home spun production companies near you who would love to help you make a great commercial. When you shop your commercial project around, ask to see a demo reel of spots produced by the company in the budget range you have. You may be surprised to find you’ll be working with another small business trying to compete against the big agencies and can give you a great look at a reasonable price. Remember this is your image to the public and you can’t put a price tag on that.
The Take Away
In 2014 there are no technical limitations to creating a classy commercial for a small town local businesses. Do not accept a unprofessional TV commercial because you live in a small town or don’t think have the budget for a nice commercial. With a little investment and attention to detail you can make a big splash.
I cover topics like these along with other media strategies for small business in my book “How to Avoid a Media Meltdown” available at amazon.com. I also consult many small businesses on their media, which you can find out more at OndoMedia.com
John Ondo is an award winning Producer/Director, Media Consultant & Author. His production company, Ondo Media, creates the finest in video & film productions as well as social media and web strategies. Based in Columbus, Ohio, John Ondo can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and our Ondo Media Vimeo site. You can also get his book “How To Avoid A Media Meltdown” at Amazon.Com or at the Ondo Media Bookstore.
John also serves as a board member and supporter of the Central Ohio Chapter of the March of Dimes.