7 Tips for Creating an Effective TV Commercial

Gene Sugano

Gene Sugano About The Author

May 27, 2021 at 2:45 PM

7 Tips for Creating an Effective TV Commercial

Having an effective TV commercial can make a dramatic difference in helping you reach some important business goals. Investing in TV can increase advertising effectiveness by 40%, and experts predict that TV advertising spending will grow steadily to $75 billion by 2022 — meaning it's far from on its way out like some may think. 

The impact a commercial can have on consumers is almost incomparable to other forms of media. "As soon as chewing gum ads started showing people chewing two pieces of gum at once, sales doubled instantly," Small Biz reveals. "That's because people also started to chew two pieces at a time, just like they'd seen on TV."  

When you're ready to start doubling your sales, implement these valuable tips for creating an effective TV commercial. 

Have questions? Let's talk!

1. Decide on Your Subject 

Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 2.37.59 PMDeciding on your subject should be the first place you start. This will allow you to set it as the core of your commercial, building from it so that it can entertain, inform, etc., without losing its primary focus. 

If you're unsure of your subject, ask yourself: What are you trying to advertise in your commercial? Do you have a new location? Do you have a new product or service? Keep your focus timely and relevant.  

Brand Awareness Campaign vs. Call-to-Action 

Now that you've decided on your subject consider the type of campaign you intend to employ. There are two types to choose from: brand awareness campaigns and call-to-action campaigns.   

A brand awareness campaign establishes and strengthens your brand's awareness, perception, and position. This approach is great for businesses new to the area. 

On the other hand, a call-to-action campaign aims to get consumers to take a given action (i.e., take advantage of a deal, sign up for something, etc.). This would be more appropriate for businesses with a new product line, an upcoming event, or seasonal sales. 

2. Choose Your Call-to-Action (CTA)

Your CTA should speak directly to your consumers about your subject and tell them what they should do next. Without a clear CTA (or CTA at all), viewers are left wondering what they're supposed to do with the information you provided.  

Ask yourself: What action do you want the viewer to take? Are you looking to bring them in-store? Do you want them to visit your website? Call for more information? 

From there, incorporate some of the most successful CTA verbs into your creative: Shop, Sign Up, Discover, Try, Watch, Start, and Join.

3. Prepare a Script 

Behind every great commercial is a great script. Here’s what you need to know to prepare and create your own. 

Commercial script length 

TV commercials run between 15 and 90 seconds long, so keep it within that time frame. Specific timing depends on your agreement with a network (i.e., typically in increments of 15, 30, and 90-seconds). 

What it should incorporate 

Your commercial script should include

  • Heading 

  • Client 

  • Script Title 

  • Your Name 

  • Draft Number 

  • Date Submitted 

  • Job ID 

  • A visual column 

  • An audio column 

Best practices 

The Digital School of Marketing (DSM) touts these as their best practices:  

  • Research pain points, potential offers, solutions, etc. 
  • Review and understand what you want to accomplish. 
  • Keep an eye out for the competition. 
  • Tell the viewers exactly what they need to know.

4. Choose Your Talent 

Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 2.38.22 PMYou have three ways to go in terms of talent: 

  • Actors can cost anywhere from $50 to $400 an hour on average, or $250 per actor per 8-hour day.  
  • In-house people can save you some money depending on your employees' hourly wage, bonus expectations for going out of the realm of their normal daily tasks, and availability.  
  • Animation without real people. According to George Groves, CEO at Piehole.TV, "An animated explainer video costs $2,000 to $10,000 per 60 seconds out there in the market [with] a 'decent' video without massive budgets at their disposal are choosing to spend $3,000 – $6,000."

5. Plan Out the Shot List 

Planning out your shots in detail and knowing exactly what to capture will ensure you're getting everything you want from your commercial while staying on budget. Last-minute decisions or spontaneous changes can lead to spending more than your budget and cause problems down the road. 

To avoid complications, determine the following:  

  • Where you're going to shoot? Your options are on a set or location. 
  • How many shots do you need? You can find this out by first creating a storyboard, much like a cartoon strip of shots you expect to get. 
  • Do you need B-roll? This refers to the footage that isn't part of your primary subject. 

6. Shoot the Commercial 

For commercial shooting guidance, pay special attention to the following: 

  • Use the Rule of Thirds — a general guideline referring to dividing your shot into nine equal sectors to compose your shots. 
  • Avoid conflicts between natural and artificial lighting by keeping the primary light source even and consistent. 
  • Keep the acoustics of your location in mind while filming. 
  • Shoot multiple takes. 

Many marketers work with a media partner in these cases since they have the additional expertise and all of the equipment and knowledge to create the perfect commercial such as lights, mics, and clearance for on-location shoots.

7. Post-Production

Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 2.38.33 PMPost-production is the work that goes into your film processing after the shoot (i.e., video production, photography, etc.). Working with a station that has in-house production can be a great way to keep it cost-effective and relevant to your brand.  

Here's what goes into post-production: 

  • Editing  
  • Creating a visual and audio narrative that makes sense 
  • Adding additional graphics  

The Secret to the Perfect Commercial 

While creating an effective TV commercial can be done on your own with these tips in mind, working with a media partner is the way to go. It can be significantly more beneficial in creating the perfect commercial from start to finish because they have the knowledge, resources, and equipment to produce and distribute a high-quality commercial that showcases your business in the best light.  

Step-By-Step Visual Outline for Developing TV Ads that Get Results