Whether you’re setting up your part-time, online-only retail storefront or launching a brick-and-mortar restaurant, you’re still competing in one way or another with other 33 million-plus small businesses in America. With so much marketing happening online now, every business is competing for online visitors. You can avoid some of it with local SEO and similar tactics.
Yet, at a certain point, you must compete with everyone. That’s one reason video is a perennial trend in marketing. The good news is that you don’t need to break new ground. You can create a commercial for your business as a launching point for your online video efforts.
Not sure where or even how you’d start with making a commercial. Keep reading and we’ll walk you through what you need to know about making a company commercial.
A basic rule in all areas of content creation is that you must pin down your intended audience. After all, you’re not going to toss around terms like “efficacy” and “accounts receivable” in a book for kids.
By the same logic, you aren’t going to focus on affluence when you’re marketing a local pizza joint. Affluent families might buy your pizzas, but it’s because they like pizza and not because pizza is a luxury item.
Ask yourself who your customers are. What motivates them?
Understanding who your customers are, what they need, and what they want lets you gear the commercial to them. Otherwise, you end up sending a message that will fall flat with your customers and would-be customers.
At its heart, your commercial tells a story. Granted, that story is usually about how your product or service will make your customer’s life better, but it’s a story nonetheless.
Understanding your customer’s needs and wants helps you pick the right story for the commercial. Let’s go back to the pizza joint.
People buy pizza for a couple of reasons. They want something easy. They want something delicious.
Regardless of anything else, most pizza commercials will focus on a story that emphasizes one of those points. If you’re running a deal, you might focus on easy. Buy one, get one half off, makes dinner a snap.
If you’re not running a deal, you’re probably going to focus on the delicious aspect of pizza. For example, you’ll show people in paroxysms of joy as they eat.
One reason why businesses like video is that it’s a relatively easy way to build up your branding. The methods vary.
If you’re careful, the basic content of the video will reinforce your brand. Let’s say that you sell kids’ clothes and fun is one of your brand values. Showing kids having fun in your clothes or picking out clothes in your store reinforces that idea.
Minimally, though, you typically work in your logo and your slogan at the end of the commercial to improve brand recognition. Not doing so is a lost opportunity.
Once you settle on your audience, story, and how you’ll include your brand, it’s time for the script. Some businesses will write their own scripts for a video, but that’s generally not ideal.
Scripts have a specific format, and shooting scripts have another format. Unless you know the ins and outs of script formatting, it’s usually best to outsource the script writing to an experienced script writer or a video production company.
If you go the second route, you’ll explain in either general terms or specific terms what you’re looking for to the writer or production service. They’ll take that guidance and draft a script.
In most cases, the script will go through a few rounds of revision to focus on or clarify the ideas.
If you do write the script yourself, here are a few tips.
Keep the commercial simple. It should focus on one or, on the outside, two main ideas. If you try to make the commercial about too many things, the message gets lost.
Focus on the visual elements. They’re going to do most of the work for you.
Minimize the Spoken Words
Most commercial scripts have way too many words in the early drafts. On average, you can get about 75 spoken words into a 30-second commercial.
Aim for that many words or fewer. The more focused those words are, the better.
Call to Action
Don’t forget to tell the viewer to take a specific action. Big brands will sometimes run ads that only exist to solidify the brand’s existence in the customer’s mind. For small and medium-sized businesses, it’s generally best to encourage the viewer to do the thing you want them to do.
For example, you can encourage them to “order now” or “call today.”
Once you have a script in hand, you can move on to the next step.
Not everyone does this, but most production companies will create a storyboard for the commercial. In essence, a storyboard is a sequence of hand-drawn or computer-generated images that steps people through the essential actions of the script.
For something like a film, the storyboard is often quite extensive. For something like a commercial, the storyboard is much more manageable to create.
It’s also a bit like an initial draft of the commercial. It lets everyone weigh in on the content before the production process really starts. It’s usually the last best opportunity to make a big change.
A lot of things happen during pre-production. Some people consider the script and storyboard as part of pre-production and some don’t.
The real work of pre-production is typically getting the logistics in order. You or the production company must find people for the commercial. This includes a director, a crew, and actors.
This is also when you or the production team pick a shooting location or decide to film on a set. If you’re working on a set, you must schedule time there to build the set and do the filming. If you’re doing location shooting, make sure you get the appropriate permits.
This is also when you’d rent or buy equipment, as needed. For example, you’d typically need things like cameras, lighting, microphones, costumes, and makeup.
The actual production is when video production services really shine. This is when you actually go to the set or the location and film the raw footage for the commercial.
If you’re working with a production company, it’s their headache to make sure that everyone knows to show up on the right day and at the right time. It’s also generally on them to make sure that everything that needs to be there, like equipment or props, is actually there.
Despite the fact that most commercials only run for 30 seconds or a minute, the filming process itself will routinely run for a day or even two. There are generally multiple takes for every shot, and every shot requires setup.
That can make it look like there’s a lot of downtime on the set or at the location, even though there is almost always someone working at any given moment.
Once you finish up with the actual filming, the actors and crew are usually done. Then, it’s generally just the director, the production company, or you’re stuck in a room with a lot of high-powered editing software.
The post-production process is where you actually assemble and edit a commercial into something like its final form.
A lot of time is generally spent sorting through all of the takes of the different shots and choosing the best ones. At that point, you can assemble a rough cut of the commercial by simply stringing all of those takes together into one video.
If a production company is handling post-production, they’ll often show this rough cut to you to get your feedback.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but videos and commercials require a fair amount of audio editing. For all the takes of the different shots, there is typically audio as well. You or the production company must pick the best audio take and layer it together with the video.
Most commercials also include music. You must integrate the music with the video as well. Fortunately, most video editing software also lets you add audio tracks as well if you’re doing it yourself.
This is also where any effects, text, or logos get added to the video. While most commercials don’t include a lot of effects, they sometimes include filters to change the feel of the imagery.
Once the post-production step wraps up, you should have a commercial you can distribute either online or through TV spots.
You Can Create a Commercial
The process to create a commercial can get complicated, but you can do it. Some businesses do all the work themselves, but many elect to outsource some or all of the process to script writers and video production services.
Keeping it all in-house does let you exert more control, but outsourcing often solves a lot of logistical problems for you. Plus, you typically benefit from their superior equipment, experience, and editing prowess.
Envision Video Services offers commercial production services to businesses in the Hasbrouck Heights, NJ area. For more information, contact Envision Video services today.