Special Interest Television 
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Stage 1:  Research & Decision   
This stage should take one to three weeks.  It normally entails two consultation meetings and a 2-3 telephone conversations in between.  

First, we need to learn as much as possible about your business, your market, and your main goals.  We may need a bit of marketing research - to find out, for example, what channels are most preferred by your current customers, or other such information.  To save money, this basic research (if needed) can be done by one of your employees, with a simple questionnaire.  Meanwhile we'll get in touch with your cable-TV company to see exactly what they have to offer, and we'll sketch a basic plan that may involve other media outlets or cross promotion as well.  We'll also talk about your audiences and about your TV messages - WHAT we need to tell "them" and HOW - in broad strokes. 

Once we have the preliminary information on the table, we can start to narrow down and simplify our options.  The Research and Decision stage should end with a basic proposal - which will be subject to your approval. 

Recently we had a meeting with a jeweler who wants an ad for a local ethnic channel.  At one point, he said: “Why do you ask me all these questions about my clients, and about what unique features I have to offer?  When someone comes to me looking for a wedding ring, I make the best decision for that person - I don’t expect my clients to know anything about jewelry.  So I assume that you would make all the TV decisions for me”.  

I replied: “Touché!  This is, indeed, our job.  But I don’t want to pretend that I know your market better than you do.  Besides, some unique features that I may think of could be out of touch - or already offered by your competition.  Once we sort out together the main meanings of your messages, and the best ways to reach your market, then you can expect a detailed script.  OK?”  

The man agreed. 

So unlike other people who “just show up to shoot”, we spend a lot of time preparing your  messages - with your participation.  Sometimes we ask “too many” questions.  We require  our prospective clients to be available and to return calls promptly during the initial stage - because we are looking only for long-term, successful business relationships.    

Other producers may be less demanding - yet that may not be in your best business interest.  If you have time to shop around, you can compare different approaches - and predict the outcome.  Besides - once we have a detailed battle plan, the rest of the project becomes very simple for you!   
Television is not “just another gadget” - like a new computer program that’s supposed to help you, when in reality only makes your life more difficult.  Television is THE most powerful marketing weapon, and the moment you start to use it will be an important moment in the history of your business.  It is serious.  So if this is your first TV marketing experience, you must feel ready for it.   
Stage 2:  The Pre-Production   

Pre-production is the most important stage in determining the quality and the effectiveness of your advertising.  Over a period of a few days or weeks, we'll work together on your concept, script, and scheduling.     

You will also meet one of the best Account Executives from your local Cable-TV company, to talk about distribution choices.  (If you prefer, we can deal with the Cable-TV Company on your behalf, and offer you three different proposals to consider.  However, a meeting between you, us, and the Account Executive is normally the best approach.)   

Before we start working together on a script, we need to repeat some questions asked during the Decision Stage - and to narrow down the answers:   

"WHO EXACTLY are the people that we want to reach?"   
"HOW do we want them to feel, and WHAT EXACTLY DO WE WANT THEM TO DO after viewing our message?"   
"How will we get our audience to do what we want?"   
"How much should we spend to get our message to the audience?"   

Being so used to television, most people believe that its visual language is rather unsophisticated.  In reality, television is a very intense  medium.  The TV set works like a powerful magnifying glass.  So please think about the above questions in very precise terms.   
Remember: the average city resident is exposed to thousands of advertising messages every day.  True, television commercials have a stronger impact compared to printed media, because once you grab the viewer's interest with a strong headline, you can deliver a powerful, multi-sensory message.     

However, in today's crowded environment, just "being on TV" is not good enough.   You've got to have something special to say - a message that will differentiate your company's  image in the viewer's perception.  A message that's brief and simple, yet logical and - most important - full of emotional appeal.  Just saying that "We have the best quality at the lowest prices" won't do.  When it comes to attracting new customers, there's no such thing as "too much sugar on top".     

Put yourself for a moment in the position of an average TV viewer.  What kind of unique message would make you jump off your chair to make a phone call, or to write down a phone number or an address?  More important - what would captivate your attention enough - so you'd actually remember after a day or two to call or to visit a company like yours?  This  doesn’t automatically entail low prices - there are a lot of other advantages to offer.  Some businesses are not price sensitive at all - and in some cases very low prices can even work against market positioning.  We’ll talk more about this when we meet.   
The representative of the Cable-TV company will tell you that you must repeat your commercial a lot, in order to have a good impact.  The average person needs to be exposed many times to a message before he / she reacts.  This is very  true, up to a point. (Remember, the Cable company wants to sell as many spots as possible).   We want to emphasize that, although repetition is essential,  a well designed commercial needs to be repeated fewer times in order to get a good response.  Also, choosing the right TV channels and hours to target your audience will greatly increase the value of your advertising dollar.  

For your TV commercial, you have to find an amazing deal, a unique novelty, or  an immediate, important need that must be addressed.  The purpose of a 30-second message is to bring new customers to you.  So we need to focus on this simple goal - "getting new customers" -  rather than trying to close a sale in 30 seconds.  Once they call or visit your place, the closing is up to you.  (Otherwise, to really make a sale on TV complete with credit card orders, you need either a 2-minute spot or a whole infomercial; we will not cover these alternatives here.)   

The benefits that you offer must be simple enough so they can be summarized in a powerful headline and described in a few brief, strong statements.    

There is a formula that we use as a model for nonfiction commercials.  However, we decided not to include it here - because in several instances in the past it ended up in the hands of our competitors.  C’mon, we are not that generous!  Let’s just say that it is available on a “Need to know” basis.   
This formula is not exactly rocket science, and it is also changeable according to each message.  Nevertheless, its application helps in maximizing the impact by exploiting the mechanism of our "immediate memory”.   

You can be sure that TV exposure will enhance your image - professionally and even personally.  What you need, however, is direct response: new clients.  And this is not  an automatic result, even if television gives you ten or twenty times more exposure  than leasing an expensive store in a super mall.  In the mall, the customers are already in a “buying mood”.  A  TV commercial should make them come to you, and this involves an ACTION.  How do you get them to do that?  You TELL them!  Never overestimate your audience’s imagination.   

The role of a good headline cannot be emphasized enough.  Also, you cannot always predict the effect of a particular headline.  This is the major reason why we normally offer packages of three commercials instead of one (at about the same price).  When you alternate three commercials, a particular headline will grab the attention of a distinct audience category, while the other two alternative messages will strengthen the impact.  This is much better than showing a long commercial over and over.  Frequency is more important   
than length in TV advertising.  A double-length spot costs double, whereas the cable companies normally charge the same price whether you have one or three commercials.     
Also, by alternating three different commercials in the same time period, you have more flexibility in choosing the contents.   This is much easier and effective  than trying to stuff everything you have to say to the world in 30 seconds.  You can even get some feedback to see what kind of headline has more punch - and then run the most effective commercial more often.  Normally, a set of three commercials produced together should not increase the production cost compared to a single commercial. 
We need to be realistic about how we emphasize the phone number or the address in your commercials.  One of the two must have priority, and we need to make it easy to remember.  If the phone number prevails, it is worth the effort of finding a set of numbers that spell a particular word.  Also, this information must be repeated briefly at the end of the commercial, with absolutely nothing else after it!   Only if your company is large, with a very well-known location, the last word can be a factual highlight.   
Stage 3:  The Production   
If it's well prepared, the videotaping is a very simple process.  If we shoot in a studio or on location, everything will be prepared ahead of time.  Most likely, however, we'll be shooting at your business place. 

Our cameras require relatively little light - so we will not turn your place upside down with complicated hardware.   

Before we shoot, we'll have a brief script consultation session.  This is the time to insert any changes that you request into the final version of the script, as alternative shots. 

All the people and objects that will appear in your commercial must be available at the scheduled time.   We suggest using our professional voice-over (included).  If you prefer using your own spokesperson, we need a quiet location for a few minutes to record the sound.  ATTENTION: if we use any live sound, be sure that someone knows how to turn off any electrical equipment, when needed.  Especially air conditioners and computer fans will create noises that are blocked out by people in a normal working day - but the microphones don't know any better. 

In most cases, it helps to invite a few good-looking friends to act as customers - or for backup "roles".  (We can hire professional actors, however they are quite expensive).  The people who appear in the picture must avoid wearing anything with narrow stripes (watch that shirt or necktie that will create moiré patterns!)  Gray, blue, green, or subdued red clothing look better than black or white.  Avoid bright reds, though - NTSC stands for "Never Twice the Same Color".  We'll provide some basic makeup, if needed.     

All the participants should be relaxed.  After all, it's just a simple commercial, and if the main message is well designed, the other details become easier to deal with.     
Stage 4:  The Post-Production   

The post-production is basically the editing process, when the best images are assembled along with the special effects, graphics, voice-over, and music, on a broadcast tape format.   Some homework - such as choosing the best shots and a review of the script - needs to be done before we go to the editor.  Minor changes can still be included (major changes too, but sometimes that's expensive by now).  

If we are also preparing a long format video at the same time (a documentary, a promotional, or a training video for example), we may give you a VHS cassette with numbers on the picture - so you can tell us which are your favorite shots.  For brief commercials, we'll choose the best "takes" while shooting.  In any case - to avoid unnecessary expenses, we should start our editing fully prepared.  Many times we'll put together a draft tape first.  

If you can, we suggest that you join us during the editing of the Master tape.  Seeing how your commercial is put together is a very interesting and enjoyable experience.  Also, by being there you can order some last minute changes without additional expenses.   

After editing, the Master Tape goes to your Account Executive.  In most cases, your commercials will start running within one week.      

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