How To Create Effective Commercials: The Simple Formula for Success

Posted by Kirsten Pesti on May 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

We have all heard the expression “the customer is Formula for Successalways right.” That is an excellent business mantra to live by.  So what do you do when the customer is actually wrong?

I recently met with one of my clients here in the Washington, DC area to discuss an upcoming advertising campaign.  We needed to plan and write radio commercials for his HVAC company’s advertising campaign that was beginning in a few weeks.  He began the conversation with talk of how long his company had been in business, that his company has been serving the Washington DC area for 50+ years, and that they have a well know name…or “brand.”  He expressed great passion that these points were powerful enough to be the hook of his commercial and that this important information was enough to get the attention of prospective customers.  I disagreed. 

Without telling him how I felt, I began asking him questions about his customers’ behavior.  For example, I asked what situations were occurring that led to people to need his services.  He rattled off a long list of situations.  Some were common and others were very uncommon.  But all of them were situations in the lives of his customers that put them in the market for his services.

I asked him to pick the one that was the MOST common.  He said the most common is  the air conditioning system breaking down on a hot day.  I probed for more.  He went on to say that beyond the house getting hot, people can’t sleep!  And when people can’t sleep, THAT puts anyone over the edge.

He had just rewritten his commercial and didn’t even know it. 

When I came back to see him with the commercials we re-wrote—all focused on the most common situation that causes someone to call his company for its services—it looked like this:

When your air conditioning goes out and it is hot outside, it is uncomfortable.  After trying to get a good night’s sleep without air conditioning, you need help and you need help now.  ABC Air Conditioning has been helping Washingtonians get a good night sleep for over 50 years.  Rest of commercial…


This script was very different from any he had used in the past, and it was much more effective in driving sales.  The client agreed this was a better approach and is very happy with his new radio commercial.

Good commercials need to be relevant and stand out from the clutter.  In order to do that, you must get your customer’s attention by identifying a situation or problem they are personally experiencing and describe it to them.  This will get their attention and create an emotional connection. 

The next phase of the messaging should be more descriptive.  This is your chance to talk about what your company does as well as your products and services.  However, you can’t tell them about ALL that you do.  Less is best in advertising.

This is the crucial part of your commercial.  Pick the product or service most important to your customers and demonstrate how it can solve their problems and enhance their lives.  That is what people care about, NOT how long you have been in the business or how many “convenient” locations you have.

People pay attention and, more importantly, REMEMBER information that is relevant to their lives.  In order to relate to and create an emotional connection with your customers, your advertising always needs to focus on the benefits of your services instead of your features. 

Don’t forget the second most important part of the commercial:  the call to action.  Make sure you provide the EASIEST way to reach you.  And then be consistent.  Stick with ONE way, not two or three.  Too many options equal confusion.  For example, it’s generally easier for people to remember the name of your website than it is to remember your phone number.  So just give your website.  Chances are customers will Google you anyway.  So spend more time being memorable and creating an emotional connection than hammering home your phone number.

Keep in mind your customers are always coming in and out of the buying cycle, so they may or may not need your services at that very moment.  But if you’ve made an emotional connection, they will remember you and respond when they do need your help.

If your commercial message follows this simple formula, your advertising has a much better chance of being successful:

The situation or problem

+How your company can help

+ Call to action                           

=  Your potential customers will respond! 

An effective method to developing a powerful commercial message is through brainstorming.  Here is a step-by-step guide to making your next brainstorming session productive.

Brainstorming Guide to marketing effectiveness

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Tags: Advertising, Advertising Creative



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