SHOULD I DO MY OWN COMMERCIALS? (What every business owner should know before doing their own Web Videos, Radio and TV ads).
A lot of business owners struggle with this one. If you’re one of them, here are some things to consider.
First of all, the reasons FOR doing your own spots are very strong:
1. Nobody knows your business, or your customer better!
2. You save money… there’s no “Talent Fee”. (Unless you want one, of course).
3. It’s fun!
And, a few reasons NOT to do your own spots:
1. You don’t like the way you come across on radio, TV or videos. (There’s hope, more on this later)
2. You’re too busy.
3. You’ve done it before but the results were not positive. (This may be fixable, too)
When it’s done right, it look so easy for those local business owners who appear in their own ads. They’ve been on the air for years, and now dominate the market. But almost all of them started small. A thousand dollar buy on local radio or cable TV. When it worked they added to the budget. They stuck with it. When one spot didn’t deliver the expected boost, they made a better one. That’s the good thing about advertising…a good spot works fast. There’s no ambiguity. I always say, “If you’re not sure that your advertising is working, it isn’t”. Put a good ad on the air, or a good video on the web and, to be a bit corny…the phone rings and the door swings…right away. So how do you make a “good” ad?
Smart business owners always look for new ways to get more results, including putting themselves in their ads. The ones who do this well have found a niche. Their image has become familiar, their message is consistent and clear and they’re even a welcome site on local radio and TV. They seem to be everywhere, all the time and their businesses thrive because of it. They get good results because they’re either “naturals”, have an excellent scriptwriter, coach or director, or any combination thereof.
Regardless of your personality type, the right script will make you look like a “natural”. A good director will suggest ways to try a “take”, while a great director will know how to get your best. Be open to suggestions. They may see something in you that will make the spot, or even your whole campaign! Even the biggest stars have coaches, and they take their advise.
We’ve all seen these “bad” local ads featuring the business owner. Some are a bit annoying, others are just plain ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work. “Bad” ads aren’t necessarily bad advertising. Stay with me here…. On countless occasions I’ve been asked about the latest “bad” ad running in our local market. Like the discount furniture guy with the high, whinny voice who looks like he could be working on his own loading dock. Actually, he really knows his target market, is honest about who he is, and he’s growing like crazy! Or the car dealer in the shinny suit who looks like he’d sell you a fake Rolex…. he’s growing rapidly because he knows his target market: Customers who can relate. Now you wouldn’t want to see a financial advisor catch a pie in the face, but a used car dealer… appealing to folks with bad credit? Why not! When you see the same advertiser running spots (even ones you don’t like) over and over, month after month, it’s probably working very well for them.
Obviously, one of the worst things you can do is spend money to HURT your business. There are several ways to avoid this. A) Never run a cheap spot. With todays technology, it’s very affordable to produce a great sounding radio spot, a well lit TV commercial or a beautiful HD Web Video. Regardless of what the script says, high quality production speaks even louder. B) Never loose trust. Only promise what you can deliver. If you advertise a sale with 50% off, be sure you offer a lot of merchandise at half price. People will rarely, if ever, go back to a store that disappointed, or worse, mislead them. C) Never spend money without getting a return. A common reason ads fail is because no one paid attention to them. The cardinal sin of advertising and entertainment is NEVER BORE THEM! They can like or dislike your ad, as long as they are paying attention to it.
HOW TO DOMINATE YOUR MARKET…
So, how do you become one of these great advertisers? Do what you’ve always done to be successful… be honest and objective. Do you have a relatively pleasant manor? Would you be comfortable in the bright lights of a TV studio or the dead silence of a recording booth? Are you willing to take advice from people who have your best interest at heart? Good! Next…
Write some copy (Or have it written for you) and go to your local radio/TV station/production company and make a demo, Show it to your business associates, family members and friends. Ask them all to be candid. Don’t worry that you’re not George Cloony or Beyonce (only people 2 are). But the good news is that nobody else is YOU. If you like the idea of being on the air, and you don’t scare small children when you speak, you can do this.
LET’S GET STARTED!
First, you’ll need a great script, one written just for you. Whether you’re hiring a writer or doing it yourself, be sure to follow these simple rules:
A) Know your target audience. Picture the person who represents your ideal customer and write specifically for that person. NEVER say “Hi ‘Everybody’ or ‘Folks”! You’re talking to one person, remember?
B) Know what you want to say. The best spots have one main theme and stick to it. If you tell us 6 things in 30 seconds we’ll remember nothing. Tell us 3 things twice! Are you clearing out last season’s models? Or introducing a new item?
C) Stay on message. DON’T get into minutia like your business hours, the specific physical address or long, non sequential phone numbers. (You’re paying for every second of airtime) If we like your overall message, we’ll get more details from your website.
D) Make us want to come to your store.. you only have 30 or 60 seconds…so keep it simple, and memorable. If you want a friend to come over for dinner, you don’t get into a long worded, unnatural invitation.. you talk like YOU talk and get to the point.
E) “Feel” the script. Are you naturally funny? Be funny. (Don’t reach. If you’re really funny, it’ll just come out that way) Are you a logical person? Use logic, people understand it. Are you a “Family” person? Incorporate your family somehow. Share a popular hobby with many of your customers, write it in! Animal lover? You can’t go wrong with your dog by your side! I’m reluctant to use a cliche but… just be yourself, or even a slightly exaggerated version of yourself, for effect.
Now, here’s the secret….. how you “SHINE”: You must simultaneously be excited and relaxed. The best ones have a calm AND commanding presence. They Love doing this kind of work and we can feel it. Notice how actors, athletes and authors “Light Up” when they’re on a talk show. If you love talking to us, you’ll light up too!
Prepare, and you’ll be confident. Practice, and you’ll be relaxed. Perform, and you’ll get excited. It will come across in your eyes and your voice. To be great on camera or radio, you never “read”, you talk. We can always tell when people are reading a script. But you’re not going to read a word, the script or prompter is there just for reference.
You’re talking to just ONE person, a loved one, who’s there, deep in the camera lens. It sounds a bit strange, but you’ll be amazed how well this works. Ask the director to see a playback so you can practice a few times.
Please, (I say this with love) for the sake of all of us.. DON’T DO AN IMPRESSION OF AN ANNOUNCER! It’s so obvious when someone reads copy like they think an announcer would …. so “sing songy” and unnatural. You are YOU. Tell us what’s going on at your business…a sale?! … WOW! We’re actually looking for what you have! And we’d love to buy it from YOU, not some “Fake” announcer wannabe.
“I WANT TO DO MY OWN ADS, BUT ….
I love it when clients are open to doing their own spots. Even if they’re too busy to come in every month, we have lots of creative options. You may consider going into a studio to tape several spots that will run throughout the year. Or perhaps you can record the “Open” or “Close” and have your local radio/TV station or production company produce the “Donut”, which they can change for each season, event or sale.
And if you’re not feeling particularly creative, you can always work with a writer who designs a promotional calendar, comes up with marketing ideas and prepares scripts. There are also very good coaches available. Find one you’re comfortable with and you two can make magic!
As I said, nobody knows your business or your customer better. Who would be better at telling your story? With SO MANY ads competing for attention, you must look for every unique advantage, and there’s only one, YOU. So go for it!
Mark Kaplowe is the founder and Creative Director of Kaplowe Studios. He has written and produced thousands of Radio and TV spots, as well as videos for businesses of all types and sizes. His voice has been heard on countless national commercials and networks including HBO, Showtime and ESPN.