TV production and media buying tips. Here you will find articles on television advertising, marketing, small business, buying air time, and more.

How To Advertise On Television

You need three elements in order to advertise on television:

  • Your Desired Customer Demographic - who's your customer?
  • Your TV Commercial Production - what's your offer?
  • Your Air Time Budget - getting the word out!

Choosing Your Desired Customer Target Demographic

KNOW WHO YOUR BEST CUSTOMER IS. It might seem like everyone in the world should want your product or service. Regardless, there's always someone who is MORE likely to desire your product, want it more than anyone else does, and be willing and able to purchase it.

Decide exactly what to advertise. Choose a product and offer with visual appeal, and real value for the customer. Then decide who is most likely to buy: women or men - what ages - what income level - what are their hobbies or interests?

Look at who has been purchasing your products, or who purchases your competitor's products. Don't try to sell to everybody - some people are simply more likely to be interested, and those are the ones to ask first!

Narrow down to that person (male/female, age, interests, income, etc.) and that's your target demographic.

Your TV commercial will be designed to appeal to just such a person, and your air time can be chosen to best reach that type of person.

Making the TV Commercial

Be sure to pick the right agency:

  • They make TV commercials full time
  • They're experienced marketers
  • They know how to place air time
  • Their work is high quality, and affordable

IMPORTANT: Don't use template (pre-made) commercials -- your product is unique, so your offer must be unique!

Your agency should be able to devise a creative TV commercial production that clearly expresses your basic offer and tells your target customers how to take action. If you're still not sure who your target customer is, a good agency can help you think this through.

Choose an aspect of your product that beats competitors, is a better deal, or both. This is the basis for your offer.

TV ads are short -- focus on your best offer and core message. Don't be tempted to cram tons of company details or multiple offers into the comercial.

An experienced agency understands the science of advertising and can zone in on the most important part of your message and how to fit that into the Broadcast 30-second (or 60-second) format that dominates television advertising.

Getting on the Air

First, you need a completed commercial that meets Broadcast standards. Your agency will need to present the ad to networks for "clearance" (technical and content approval). A TV producer who also does air time placement will know how to meet the production standards and quality that networks expect.

BUDGETING: Set a budget! It is darn near impossible to plan a TV media buy without knowing how much you can afford to spend. Keep in mind that for SMBs and entrepreneurs, your budget determines how and where to advertise - not the other way around.

Typically, your agency will arrange your media buy for you, following demographic guidelines you supplied earlier and finding the best air time buys for your budget.

Plan to spend 5 percent to 15 percent of your gross revenues (or your projected gross revenues) on advertising. A 1-month, local, single-city campaign might be as inexpensive as $1,500. Depending on multiple factors like the city, time of airings, and networks, this could yield as many as 100 airings, or about 3 per day for a month. Prices for airings vary widely and change often, so they must be researched on a case by case basis.

For example, with a $15,000 overall advertising budget you can create an inexpensive 30-second commercial ($1000-3000) and do a short national TV campaign, or if you focus on one region such as Tampa Bay, San Diego, Seattle, etc., you can run a longer, more vigorous campaign lasting several weeks or months. Some regions, networks, and dayparts are cheaper than others.

For larger budgets ($100K, $200K and up), you can go for a more ambitious ad TV commercial production ($10K - $50K), and you can spend more on air time ($50K and up).


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