TV and radio: Conveying your message

These channels are expensive and complicated to use. But these are also effective tools for promoting an SME.

Just about every Swiss household has a television and every car has a radio. TV commercials are definitely the most striking type of ads, but radio listeners, often captive in their car or bathroom, are forced to listen to the commercials played on the radio. The problem is that those commercials are the most expensive. An SME often thinks it does not have the resources to finance them. But it should not despair—there are ways of producing TV and radio commercials at low cost.

The golden rules

An SME should never produce a TV commercial itself. Audiences today are too accustomed to professional ads. A cheap ad would damage the company image. A production company should be used. To save money, it is possible to produce a simple commercial (the director appears alone in front of the camera in a neutral environment but with a strong message, for example).

In radio, the situation is different. If the SME has an employee with some radio knowledge, it can produce a short commercial itself. However, if the company wants to launch a more ambitious campaign (costing more than CHF 10,000), it should call on the professionals.

There is a golden rule for radio commercials: an ad often needs to be heard between three and five times to result in a buying decision. The estimate is that it should be played between 27 and 30 times on the same station to achieve this result. Given a choice, frequency should be favored over the length of the commercial.

Producing a TV or radio commercial

An SME should avoid writing the script for a commercial itself. Instead, directors should suggest ideas to advertising agencies, which will then put the commercial together. Here is how to produce a successful ad:

  • It should be possible to summarize the subject of the commercial in just a few lines. The goals should be clear: is the company announcing the opening of a new store or sales in July? The advertising agency will have a better understanding of what needs to be done.
  • The concept should pique the audience’s curiosity. Professionals will help the SME to produce an engaging commercial.
  • The audience’s attention should be captured in the first three seconds. Otherwise the customer will change the TV channel or radio station.
  • The commercial should tell a story. It should present the product or service in an entertaining way.
  • The name of the SME should be repeated several times. It should be mentioned at least three times every 30 seconds.

Working with a production company

TV channels and radio stations sometimes advise SMEs to produce their commercials in their studios. An independent production company can also be used. This kind of company has the advantage of creating unique and original commercials. During collaboration, the following advice should be followed:

  • Before hiring a production company, look at the commercials it has already produced. This will help you work out the agency’s style.
  • Ask for a budget. The production company should submit a detailed estimate. This estimate should show the costs of the recording studio, equipment, musical copyright, production time and actors.
  • Meet the actors. Ideally, ask the actors to read the text of the commercial in front of one of the SME’s employees. That way, mistakes can be corrected, such as mispronunciation of the company name. Actors are able to adapt quickly. They can also be asked to look or sound more enthusiastic or sad, depending on the requirements of the ad.
  • Be there when the video or radio ad is being made. The production company will then be able to ask the SME’s employee questions and get immediate answers. This helps save time and money.

Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.

Last modification 29.04.2021

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