Getting Started as Your Own TV Advertising Producer
But first -- is this something you really want to do? If you have some advertising expertise and experience and you are willing to deal, day-to-day, with media sales and production people, you may want to do your own TV advertising. If your TV budget is very small, or you cannot find an advertising person whom you can trust, you may have to do it all yourself. In many cases, though, it's like acting as your own attorney -- it'll just end up costing you time and money. But, if that's the way you need to go, here's how to get started.
Find a TV salesperson you can work with. Call the Local Sales Manager at a TV station where you've seen your competitors advertising. Ask for an appointment with a salesperson who has been in the business for at least five years and is used to working with local, direct clients. Tell the salesperson you just want to test the waters and how much money you want to spend to do that. Try to tie the salesperson's success to yours -- if the commercial works, you will be back. If not, you're gone forever.
Before you call the TV station, read Working With TV Salespeople.
Make a commercial. The salesperson should put you together with the TV station's production staff. Work with them to write and produce an initial 30-second TV spot. It should not be expensive -- in most cases, a few hundred dollars, tops.
Track results. Book some airtime, pay for it, and see what happens. Ask every caller, "Have you ever seen our commercial on TV?" (Not, "Where did you hear about us?") Try to chart all of the responses and be as specific as possible about where they came from.
Pay as you go. I suggest you pay for your schedule as you go, a week or a month in advance. Make it clear to the salesperson that you will only be responsible for the spots you have paid for in advance. Do not fill out or sign a credit application. This makes for good business relationships with TV stations, no nasty surprises when you get your bills, and you won't be tempted to pay for your advertising with money it has not yet produced. Read more, if you like, about why I think this is the best way to work with TV stations.
If possible, let a pro write your spots. Even if you are working directly with a TV station, you should still not write your own commercials unless you are sure you know what you are doing, or you absolutely cannot find anyone else who does. A TV pro should know how to build a commercial in such a way that your offer is clearly presented and your prospects are led to respond.
Unfortunately, many so-called TV "writer-producers" have no idea what they are doing. Consequently, the airwaves are crowded with TV commercials that don't enrich anyone but the TV stations. Try to find TV station production people who know what they are doing.
On the other hand, if you think you would be happier and more successful working with an agency or, at least, one trusted professional, check out my page on ad agencies.