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     How To Create Effective Television Advertising

Producing a TELEVISION ad for your small business can seem a daunting, intimidating and expensive task. Fortunately, with today's easy access to the tools and technology of TV production, creating a spot is well within your reach. One caveat: Making a TV ad may be relatively easy. Making a good television ad is challenging. Don't get so caught up in the production process that you lose sight of your advertising OBJECTIVE. Clio Awards are nice (and great for ideas and inspiration), but it's not creative unless it sells!

Once you've got your advertising message in mind, the 3 key stages of TV production are:
  • PRE-PRODUCTION -- planning, writing, scheduling, location scouting and all the preparation and details before a frame of video is ever shot

  • PRODUCTION -- the actual video shooting of the ad; depending on your needs and budget, could be anything from one camcorder to a multi-camera Hollywood extravaganza

  • POST-PRODUCTION -- while on the shoot, you may hear the common refrain, "We'll fix it in post"; post is where everything comes together to produce the ad -- editing, graphics, music, titles, voice over, special effects and, eventually, a "final cut"
Here are the most effective solutions for getting your own television ad produced:

Know and communicate your marketing OBJECTIVE. Determine your budget and develop a plan. What do you hope to achieve with your ad? Where and when will it run?

A Get-It-Done Tip: The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB.org) is an excellent RESOURCE for first-time television advertisers. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA.net) is another good starting point.

Television is still a mass medium, but you better know your target before you shoot! Who are you trying to REACH, and will your message resonate with your intended audience?

A Get-It-Done Tip: Advertising Age (AdAge.com) is the industry Bible. More in depth demographic research is available online at their sister publication, American Demographics.

Craft your message and determine your content. Consider whether you're producing a 30-second television spot, a :20, :15, :10 or some combination. Be sure to REFINE your script and storyboard -- a visual representation of each shot in your ad -- until you're convinced the commercial is ready to shoot.

A Get-It-Done Tip: Need ideas and inspiration? Hop across the pond (online) to THINKBOX, Great Britain's great website for television marketing in the United Kingdom.

You'll need to decide on the CREATIVE for your television ad. Considerations include tone, pacing, mood, style, music, etc. Should it be humorous? Dramatic? Animated? The clearer your vision before the shoot, the better television you'll produce.

A Get-It-Done Tip: The television marketing and ad whiz kids at Promax.org are some of the best "PROMO producers" in the world. See what ad producers from a variety of networks are doing and tap into their collective knowledge.

Post production is "where the magic happens." EDIT the footage from your shoot, adding music, graphics, effects and finishing touches. Hire a pro editor, or do it yourself with a program as simple as Apple's iMovie.

A Get-It-Done Tip: Mandy.com lists hundreds of production VENDORS, as does LosAngeles411 and NewYork411, depending on your coastal preference. Procure a Pro is a more broad based business-to-business directory.

If you do decide to go it alone, creative is still key. Creative trumps budget every time. A good IDEA with lower production is still better than a slick ad that misses the mark. Software called "Visual Communicator" from Adobe allows you to create pro videos using only a webcam and some pre-packaged graphics. Your local television STATION may provide commercial production assistance (at extra cost) if you buy an ad schedule on that station. Think about other "venues" for your finished ad, such as streaming video on your website.


Television marketing and production veteran Lou Bortone is an award-winning writer, marketer and producer who spent more than 20 years in the TV industry, including several years at Fox and E! Entertainment Television in L.A. Lou specializes in helping entrepreneurs create breakthrough TV and video, including Online Video. Email Lou at [email protected] or visit www.theonlinevideoguy.com.

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