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Creating TV Commercials To Promote Your Small Business

| 04.04.2013 |

So, you own a small business and you want to grow it into a big business. One possible avenue for achieving that laudable goal is television commercials. But how do you get your company on the air, and how can you ensure that your TV advertising will work?


To discuss the union of small business and TV advertising, we spoke with Michael J. Citak, who directs and produces commercials for small businesses. Citak is the owner of two Middletown, Conn.-based companies, 247graphics.net and JustAHeadProductions LLC.


Q: I get the impression that TV commercial production can be very expensive. I am on a tight budget, so why should I consider pursuing a TV commercial?


Michael J. Citak: That's a Catch-22. On one hand, it's important to advertise – but on the other, it's usually expensive to produce and run your ad.


Take Geico. We all know the insurance company will save you 15% or more. Why is that? It's because they promoted it on TV, in your face for years with memorable characters and entertaining scenarios. Each ad basically told you the exact same message, but showed it to you in a different way. They told you a story without you even knowing it, slowly making you fall in love with that little gecko, and in turn subconsciously in love with Geico, even if you are not a current customer.


To get the most out of your TV advertising, the best practice is to not only learning from others, but to carve out your own niche. So to answer your question, TV advertising can be expensive if you want it to be, or it can be as cheap as using your iPhone to take HD video and hiring a local guy like myself to compile the images and video together. The downside to the cheap way is that while the commercial will look good, the quality of the images won’t translate well during television broadcasts and are mainly suited for the Internet.


The production of a commercial is as complex as the ideas in your head for how you want your company to be perceived. For example, Empire Construction paid Comcast $1,000 in 2008 to produce a 30-second commercial. Comcast's videographer came out for one hour, shot some generic 'b-roll' footage, and then edited it all together. Empire Construction wasn't happy. They paid so much for the commercial that they felt they had to show it in order to get their monies worth. My company came in, helped Empire Construction create a more compelling commercial for $500 – one that the company owner helped make – and this commercial continues to be shown. Better yet, the company agreed to make a second commercial with us.


Granted, Empire Construction still has to pay for the airtime to show the commercial, but self-producing allowed the company the freedom to stream the commercial on its website, on YouTube, and any other social media outlet.


Q: TV commercials only give me 30 seconds to summarize my business. How would you recommend encapsulating what my business does in a half-minute's running time?


Michael J. Citak: If this is your first commercial, you should focus on branding. Ask yourself: What does your brand mean? What is your mission statement? As with producing a feature film you need to first sell it with a log line – a one-sentence description of what your story is all about.


Don't get me wrong, that's difficult to do and takes some tweaking. But when you have it right, and you can visually showcase that in 30 seconds and you will have a winning commercial that will work for you.


Q: What is the advantage of having a commercial on TV versus having it on YouTube? Or should the commercial run in both mediums?


Michael J. Citak: Have you even opened your mailbox to find it is stuffed with junk mail? Those companies saturate the market with their literature. It's a business tactic that is in use in every media pitch known to man – the salesperson will try to sell you on saturating the market – and rightly so, because selling is a numbers game.


When selecting a commercial producer, it's best to ask where you can publish it. If they tell you that you can only show it on their network and nowhere else, don't buy it. Go elsewhere – or, better yet, find a local producer like me to produce it for you and then help you market it. So, short answer: penetrate the market by publishing your commercial online as well as on TV, provided that your budget allows it.


Q: People identify me as the head of my company, but I've never been on camera before. Should I still go camera despite my lack of experience, or do you prefer having actors on the screen?


Michael J. Citak: There's such a thing as playing to your strengths. In America, customers have a tendency to love mascots, and in such these mascots become the face of the company by helping to sell products and drawing in even the youngest viewers.


For a small business owner who has never been on camera before, I'd say yes. You may not be the best talker, but more times than not it's not about what you're saying, it's about what you're doing – and what you're doing is connecting with the masses.


For example, a preacher goes into church and praises the masses, starts his sermon and asks for an “amen.” The crowd answers back because the thrill of the audience participation is key.


Q: Do you recommend a single, standalone commercial, or (if my budget allows) should I consider doing a string of commercials?


Michael J. Citak: This is an easy question! As a creative guy, I'd say you should do multiple commercials. You can usually work out a better deal with the production company if they know they’ll have more work coming their way! The same goes with a TV station – the more blocks of airtime you get, the cheaper it is.


But if your budget doesn't allow for it, then focus on one really good commercial that can stand the test of time!


If you wish to continue this conversation regarding your business and the potential for TV advertising, Michael J. Citak is online at http://www.247graphics.net/.