Tag Archives: commercials

Baseball, The 30 Second Pitch, and Sigourney Weaver

It was a glorious summer day, the first Friday of July, 1941. Almost four thousand fans filed into Ebbets Field to watch their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers lose to the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4. But there was another bit of history taking place that day. For just as many fans were able to watch the game elsewhere – thanks to a new piece of technology called Television.

The baseball broadcast began with a map of the U.S.and a clock, as an announcer intoned, “America Runs On Bulova Time.” History’s first TV commercial.

It ran for only ten seconds. Bulova paid $9.00, about $130 in today’s money.

Within seven years, advertisers flocked to the new medium. Entire TV shows were sponsored by one company, and those businesses could often dictate the content of the shows. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that one man changed the way TV and advertising did business. Actually, he changed a LOT of things on TV: he invented the Today Show, and he invented the Tonight Show, too. Pat Weaver can lay credit to many of the ways television works today.

A side note: Pat Weaver was once a guest lecturer in my college broadcasting class. He’s one of the more fascinating men I’ve been privileged to meet. A couple of years after he had been in class, his daughter got a bit part in a Woody Allen movie. Yep. Pat Weaver is Sigourney’s dad.

Anyway, Pat figured out it was more cost effective – both for TV and for advertisers to sell that sponsorship to more than one company, and suggested one to two minute chunks of ads within the programming. In an hour, they could sell nine minutes of commercials. Cut those in half, and there are EIGHTEEN 30 second spots. Cue the cheering salesmen.

I did not achieve as much fame or significance in broadcasting as Pat Weaver, but I have written and produced thousands of 30 second spots. And I’ve learned this:

  • They are very difficult to write …and
  • Thirty Seconds Is For Broadcasting

Ever since I started Videos On Your Website, folks ask if I will do a 30 second video for their website. I won’t. Maybe the message takes 47 seconds to get across; maybe it takes two minutes and five seconds. Whatever it is, you don’t want to be constrained to a specific length. Studies have shown that folks will watch a video of about four minutes, IF it is compelling enough.

Remember: people don’t search for commercials.

Sixty year old factors should not determine the length of your message. Just get out there and tell your story.

— that’s a wrap.
(note: this post originally appeared on LinkedInJuly, 2015. I brought it back because of the World Series.)

Thanks, Steve

Steve owned a company that made computers. Steve wanted to buy some commercials. I was one of four radio and television stations to meet with him one day. I sat next to the account executive while he detailed the proposed buy. Then, I was introduced as the one who would write and produce the commercial.

I went through my usual list of questions, asking Steve about his business and more importantly his customers: who they were and the kinds of problems they were bringing for Steve to solve. When we finished, I had a pretty good idea of what I would write if we got the order.
The next day Steve called. “I was really floored,” he said, “Out of all the stations I met with, you were the only one to ask about my business. Everyone else just told me what I should be doing.”

We got the order. Not only that, but Steve hired me to produce all of his commercials for the entire market.

When someone asks me what sets Videos On Your Website apart, I tell them about Steve and how he doubled his business because he partnered with someone who asked and listened about his business.

Thanks, Steve.

–that’s a wrap.

Why I Don’t Do Commercials

On the very very first project I did after opening Videos On Your Website, the owner of the company introduced me to her staff: “This is Ron, and he’s going to record our commercial today.”

I still remember the twinge I felt at the time, but I opted not to say anything since I wanted to focus on getting the shoot right. I told myself that the idea of doing video web content was so new that most folks didn’t have a reference point. Hence, to them it was a commercial.

Broadcast TV, Cable TV, radio is still a major factor in communicating sales and brand messages to consumers. Commercials and Infomercials are part of the landscape. Broadcasting terms still abound which is why I am asked about creating “60 second videos” when maybe the right length to tell the story is 110 seconds.

I produced broadcast commercials for over 20 years. The hardest thing in the world is to put your message, features and benefits inside a 30 or 60 second window AND make it entertaining knowing that your audience is conditioned to focus their attention elsewhere while that message airs.

But putting videos on your website, your blog, or a social media profile page means your audience has to click to engage. They WANT to hear what you have to say. It’s much more fun to talk with someone who is actively listening than with someone whose attention you may lose after five seconds.

Who’s listening to YOU?

–That’s a wrap.

Would You Feel Better If I Called It A Commercial?

After decades in advertising, I can tell you that business people LOVE commercials. It’s their opportunity to get “face time” with their customers and prospects and talk about their wonderful products.

Guess who doesn’t love commercials?
Answer: customers and prospects.

When is the only time customers love commercials?
During that football game each February.

But this is the online world. And people don’t search for commercials.

And yet, I’m surrounded by materials from video producers trying to sell businesses a :30 second commercial, or an Infomercial, or even, heaven forbid, a Webmercial. And so it bears repeating:

People. Don’t. Search. For. Commercials.

They’re looking for content. If you’re a plumber, it might be: Five Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal. If you’re a dentist, it might be: Meet Our Staff. If you run a pet grooming service, maybe it’s a couple of testimonials from satisfied customers.

That way, when folks search for a plumber, and that video shows up in search, that plumber has a certain amount of expertise in the eyes of that prospect. When someone is searching for a dentist, all of a sudden this one seems nicer and more trustworthy. When my friends tell me to check out the pet grooming service, I see a couple of folks like me talking about what a pleasure it was working with them.

Content like that will keep me on a web page longer. Content like that will build trust in the eyes of a customer or prospect. It’s closer to showing and telling than it is to selling. But it is not a commercial.

It’s better.

–that’s a wrap.

Have You Seen Our Coupon?

There’s one store close to my house that I frequent – not every day, maybe every two weeks. I was there today, and noticed the hand-written sign on the front door?

Have You Seen Our Coupon?

Under it was taped one of those coupons that are printed on the backs of grocery receipts. In making conversation with the store clerk, I discovered that the coupons had been out about a month, and no one had used one yet.

These folks spent a sum of money for a vehicle which they believed would cause increased traffic to their store. Since nothing happened, their feeling about this form of marketing will soon be, “I tried it and it didn’t work.”

It doesn’t matter that there could be other factors at play: the offer wasn’t good enough, the design wasn’t eye catching, the weather was too cold..any number of things.

Their investment in that coupon and its distribution ends when it’s no longer being printed.

That’s advertising.

 

What if you had a creative message that you owned? One that worked for you 24/7/365.

What if you didn’t have to ask your customers if they had seen your message; you’d know because they’d be buying from you?

What if you had something that the competition didn’t?

What if you had a message that connected with customers and prospects

What if that message was something your prospects had been searching for?

That’s web content.

 

Videos On Your Website can help you build a library of web content so that you become the expert, and they will choose your business to answer their questions and solve their problems.  No coupon needed.

 

That’s a wrap.

 

 

Give Your Website Visitors A Reason To Stay

I’m sitting here looking at my latest stats from Google Analytics, and I found something very interesting: When a visitor comes to my site as the result of a Google organic search, they stay for almost SEVEN MINUTES! Even when I’m found through a Yahoo search, visitors hang around for just under four minutes.

There’s a video on almost every page of my site. Only two of them are about me or my work. The rest show my clients and how they are using video to enhance their brand, establish trust and credibility or take viewers on a behind the scenes look at their business.

Here’s another stat that’s hard to believe: one of my inbound links brings visitors who stay an average of NINE minutes.

If you buy advertising on radio or TV, you have only thirty seconds to present your message. And with both of those mediums, you’re competing with all the other stimuli that surrounds the user. Plus, it’s extremely costly.

Videos on your website are available 24/7. They’re one of the most cost effective strategies to get in front of a prospect and present yourself as an expert in your field.

If you know a small business with a website, invite them to take a look at their user statistics. Then, ask them to give me a call.

–That’s a wrap.

24 Things You Can Say In Your Next Video

When small businesses begin to think about making a video to put on their website, they usually start writing things to say about the products or services they’re trying to sell. What else is this process called?
video subjects,
Commercials.

Since no one searches the web for commercials, there has to be another way to tell a small business’ story.

There is. And it’s the process that businesses and professionals are using to build their video library.

There are probably at least ten questions that every customer asks you.
There are ten more questions you WISH they would ask. That’s a total of twenty different videos so far. Are you following?

But in the title I said 24 things.

The other four videos are actual showcase pieces about your product or services. No, not commercials. That’s where we come in. We’ve been producing those kinds of messages, those UN-mercials since before there was an Internet. And we’re still having fun.

–That’s a wrap.

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

Say you’re watching your favorite show, and it’s time for a commercial. But before the commercial is played, you see, “We Will Return To Our Show In 30 Seconds.” What would you do?
Would you sit thru the commercial? Would you fast forward if the show had been recorded? Would you see if you could find a snack in half a minute?

TV execs are hoping you’ll just sit and watch.

This season, there will be some new techniques for commercial breaks, all of them designed to get you to watch, or engage you. Some shows will only show one 30 second spot at a time. Some shows will be using the actors in character, so that maybe you won’t notice they’ve gone to a commercial.

Well, of course, none of this is new.

Forty years ago and more, actors from TV shows were making pitches in character for hundreds of products…everyone from Dick Van Dyke to the Flintstones.

Actually, network execs have been saying for sometime that they’re worried about folks flashing forward on their DVRs. Hmmm. Let’s think about that for a minute. Which TV spots would you NOT want to fast forward thru? Isn’t there one particular time of year when TV commercials actually make headlines?

That January Football Game.

Why?

Why are THOSE spots watched, and talked about, and remembered, and discussed, and replayed?
Could be that they’re just a tad bit more creative than the norm? Could it be that here are a group of advertisers who understand that the way to engage the audience is to also entertain them?
Why does that happen just in January?

Ok, there are actually some pretty good spots the rest of the year.. I like PC vs Mac, the E*Trade baby, and IKEA. But just like radio, TV spots don’t have to be funny. They just have to be memorable. They just have to show their benefit to the consumer.

Make it relevant, and they will watch.

Folks will watch “TV’s Funniest Commercials Part 8?, but they will remember Mean Joe Green and the kid with the Coke bottle because it touched them. And that’s going to sell a whole lot more product than Smiling Bob could ever dream of.

–That’s a wrap.