The reading level for this article is Novice
TV is by far the most efficient medium to reach the mass-market (all taxpayers). The cost-effectiveness of TV is further magnified for the tax industry by the fact that our primary need is mid-January to mid-February when the networks have excess inventory (fewer advertisers than during peak retail buying seasons). Unlike most print media, TV (and radio) advertising rates are negotiable and prices vary greatly with supply and demand.
TV is perceived as being expensive, and there is some justification for that perception. The cost of a professionally produced TV commercial can be astronomical, but it doesn’t have to be. The cost of a TV campaign with adequate reach and frequency might seem staggering, but it can be very affordable. There are ways bootstrap marketers can afford TV, which we will cover here.
A requisite to use network TV efficiently is to have offices convenient to the majority of the viewing audience in your network TV market’s Area of Dominant Influence (ADI). This may be relatively easy to accomplish in a city of less than one million people, but nearly impossible in a major market such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles; and very difficult in cities like Washington, D.C, Kansas City and San Francisco. However, a group of independent companies serving different geographic markets could, conceivably, pool their resources and support a cooperative network TV campaign (as do independent operators of national franchises).
A TV station may offer to produce a commercial for you, but it’s not likely to be any good. There’s no point in spending money to run TV spots that won’t generate sales. In fact, airing a poor quality TV commercial can do irreparable damage to your firm’s image. An effective TV commercial can be professionally produced for as little as $1,000, but you’ll need to shop very carefully for the right advertising professional and/or production house. You’ll probably get the best deal from a small agency or a freelancer with big-agency experience.
What constitutes a good TV commercial? The following excerpt from Jay Conrad Levinson’s book, Guerrilla Advertising: Cost Effective Tactics for Small Business Success (New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994, p 207), might help you to set standards for success.
Secrets of a good commercial
- It is more motivational than entertaining. If it happens to entertain, that is its secondary purpose in life.
- It is very clear about its competitive advantage. Not one prospect is confused about what the advertiser offers.
- It is intensely visual, even with the sound off. TV is a visual medium with audio enhancement. Got that?
- It is professional looking and builds stature. Nobody pays attention to production values–unless they are embarrassingly amateurish–only to the product.
- It is believable and compelling, but not high-pressure. It sells like crazy, but sells with velvet gloves and truth.
- It is a fabulous commercial because it creates a desire. No one comments on the TV spot; everyone wants the product.
- It is focused on advancing the sale, not being clever. The cleverest thing about it is the product and benefit.
- It is wrapped up with the product and uses special effects sparingly and only to make the product look good.