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How to Get Commercials that Work

By: Kevin Nunley

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copywriting, and promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at DrNunley.com Reach Kevin at kevin@drnunley.com or 801-328-9006.

Anyone who has ever put down hard-earned dollars for commercials can tell you the difference between a good commercial and a bad one. Good commercials work. A few plays on the air and prospects are flooding through the doors and ringing the phone.

A bad commercial does just the opposite. It sits there. No response. No results. Only a painful invoice to pay 30 days later.

Whether you are advertising on television or radio (or even newspapers), a few simple guidelines can save you from the no-results commercial trap.

Make your offer attractive. All the advertising in the world won't attract buyers to a product or service that they don't need, is of poor quality, or is over priced. On the other hand, even a little advertising will bring surprising response for an offer that prospects immediately understand to be a very good value.

Put your commercials only on the stations and programs your prospects use. There's no point in wasting your message on people who wouldn't be interested in your product or service. Make your media choices match the audience you are trying to reach.

Make sure you commercial copy is well written. This last point could be the most important. A really well-written commercial will work just about anywhere. Surprisingly, copy writing is the one factor that is most often left to chance.

When George the tax accountant buys his radio commercials for the spring tax rush, he leaves the commercial copy up to the station's sales rep. Sure, George supplies the rep with a list of points he wants included, but it's the sales guy who actually puts his points to paper for the announcer to read. Some broadcast sales people are good writers. More than a few can't form a complete sentence. After all, they're sales people, not copywriters.

Insist on working closely with your ad sales rep. Write your own copy, get a ghost writer to help you, or stand over the shoulder of the sales rep while she writes it. Use these safeguards to insure effective copy.
  1. Keep sentences short! That's the way people talk in real life. Long, extended sentences make your copy too complicated. Long sentences also force the announcer to rush so he doesn't run out of breath. Listen to the commercials on your favorite radio station. You'll be surprised at how often announcers have to break for breath in unnatural places due to over-extended sentences.

  2. Don't cram too much information into your commercial. It's better to put in less copy so the announcer can read slower and more clearly. Rather than throwing lots of details at the listener or viewer, focus on a few key points you want them to remember.

    Read your copy OUT LOUD, as the announcer will, to see if it will fit into the thirty or sixty seconds allotted for your commercial. Very often commercial copy will be way too long and the announcer will indiscriminately leave out sentences to make it fit.

  3. Finally, keep your copy client-centered. Tell the viewer or listener how your product or service will make their lives better, easier, or sexier. Don't depend on the listener to figure out for himself how the "gizmo 2000" will make him happier. EXPLAIN HOW it will make him happier. Then take some time to say more on just how happy he will feel. Concentrating on the listener's life and emotions gets most people's attention better than anything else. Radio and TV work particularly well for this kind of advertising.
Most commercials either work or don't work due to one of the few points I've mentioned. As a business person, knowing these and watching out for your interests in the commercial making process will help insure your commercials are a big success.

© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 DrNunley.com.

Other Articles by Kevin Nunley

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