In this Two Part Series, Vision Media explores the basics of “Building the Perfect Television Commercial” for your business. While every advertising situation is unique, we found these common elements to be integral components of any successful electronic media campaign, whether you’re selling sport coats or sports cars.

Part One focuses on something we call “creative strategy.” As its name implies, this is where you develop the game plan for your commercial and establish goals for your event.

The first step (and most critical) is focusing your message. All too often, advertisers want to tell their whole story in a :30 spot, not wanting to waste a second of precious airtime. This broad “shotgun” approach simply does not work with TV. Effective television advertising relies on frequency to create memory recall and ultimately motivate response. Not only frequency in terms of the number spots in your broadcast schedule but repetition of a message within the commercial itself. Unlike print or digital media, the television viewer doesn’t have the luxury of re-reading your ad for clarity, so it’s imperative that you stick to one or two salient points in your commercial and drive those points home. If your message is too broad, your commercial will do nothing more than leave the customer disinterested and confused.

Once you’ve “laser-focused” your message, you must decide how to effectively communicate that message to your audience. In order to do so, you must be able to identify your audience—demographically. While you probably have a pretty good idea of who your customer is, that base will vary, based on the particular stations or cable channels you use or what “day parts” you buy. Vision Media relies on market snapshot data from Scarborough Research®, Nielsen® and Arbitron® to help us pinpoint your target group. Your television stations probably have access to these same resources. Ask your rep! This data will not only help you create an effective commercial but will prove invaluable in placing your media, too. So, now that you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to start talking.

When writing any commercial copy, use language and a “tone” that will appeal to your target audience. Speak to your customers using straight-forward language and don’t condescend. You have a mere 30 seconds (15 in some cases) to capture the audience’s attention, present your offers and make a call to action. Use short sentences, an attention-gettting lead sentence and an “active voice” in all your broadcast writing. Again, don’t try do do too much. We’re not suggesting you sacrifice creativity—but don’t let your desire to create a “silver screen masterpiece” overshadow the purpose of the ad. How many times have you heard: “Did you see that great ‘Star Wars’ knock-off commercial…I forget who it was for but what great effects!” Great plug for Spielberg, not so much for the advertiser. While you must consider the visuals that will ultimately support your script, try to write the script so that it can stand on its own merits. In other words, write a good radio spot, then support it with visuals. Reason being, most people are “passive” television viewers, especially when it comes to commercials. It’s only when the viewer is captured by a key word, phrase or sound, will they become engaged visually.