Making a TV commercial requires an understanding of which businesses can benefit most from commercials and how much commercials cost. Once you decide that TV commercials are right for your business, identify your advertising needs, create a compelling and relatable storyline, and film and edit commercial footage. Then, choose a network and air your ad.
If you’ve decided to add TV commercials to your current advertising strategy, consider hiring a professional to help develop a storyline and produce the video. Professional production teams can be expensive, but you can hire experienced freelancers through Fiverr for as little as $5. Click here to get started.
How to Make a Commercial in 9 Steps
Once you decide to make a commercial, evaluate your marketing and advertising goals and determine your ad budget. Then, create a storyline that presents your brand and products in a clear way. Finally, gather a production team, film and edit your commercial footage, and air your ad on a TV network.
The nine steps for making a TV commercial are:
1. Evaluate Your Marketing Needs
Before you develop an idea for your first TV commercial, take some time to evaluate your current marketing and advertising campaigns and branding. Then, observe how your competitors are advertising with commercials and perform market research to determine who your ideal clients and target audience should be. Based on this research, determine where a commercial fits in your marketing strategy.
Follow these steps when determining your marketing needs:
- List your current strategies: First, inventory the tools and strategies you are currently using to advertise your business and evaluate the success of your current advertisements and marketing campaigns. This will inform how you should incorporate TV commercials into your marketing.
- Research your competitors: To determine how to use TV commercials in your marketing campaigns, watch how your competitors use the platform. You can learn a lot about your market by evaluating where other local businesses are finding success in advertising.
- Perform market research: Market research is necessary to better understand the wants and needs of consumers in your local market. Conduct market research to determine who your ideal client is and identify your commercial’s target audience.
- Evaluate your branding: Before you start brainstorming TV commercial ideals, take a look at your company’s brand identity. Make sure your logo and other branding components are cohesive and accurately represent your products and services.
- Develop a future advertising strategy: Based on your current marketing campaigns, target audience, and brand identity, determine how TV commercials should fit within your future marketing and advertising strategy.
2. Determine Your Budget
When determining your commercial budget, consider production costs and the cost to air your ad for as long as your marketing strategy requires. Also keep in mind that the quality of your TV commercial—determined in part by how much you’re willing to pay for it—will directly impact how your potential customers perceive your business. Hiring a professional production company will help ensure you end up with a high-quality ad, but it can increase your overall costs.
Consider these factors to determine your TV commercial budget:
In general, businesses reserve between 2% and 5% of annual revenues for advertising. When calculating your budget, consider how much your business makes each year and how much you need to spend on other elements of your marketing and advertising budget.
Overall Marketing Objectives
Calculate your TV commercial budget based on your marketing and advertising strategy as a whole. This method ensures you don’t overspend on your TV commercial and deplete funds needed to run the remainder of your marketing campaign.
To determine how much you should spend on TV commercials, evaluate how much your competitors are spending on the same type of advertising. This may be difficult to determine on a local level, but you can observe your competition’s commercial length and quality—along with their other advertising—to estimate their average spend.
Maximum Budget You Can Afford
One way to determine your advertising budget is to calculate the most you can possibly spend on this type of business expense. Calculate all of your other operating expenses and subtract that number from your overall revenue to calculate the maximum advertising budget you can afford.
3. Determine Primary Goal for First Commercial
If you have determined that TV advertising fits for your audience and that you have the budget to create and air a commercial, you should begin considering what your first commercial goal will be. This goal will ultimately determine the success of your ad, and needs to be measurable.
For instance, you may have a series of events that you would like to promote. Your first commercial may be a promotion of one of those events with a commercial-specific URL or vanity number offered for buying tickets. Or, you may want to increase sales of a specific product line. Identify that product line and offer discounts to encourage sales.
Having a goal in place for each commercial will not only help with the production of clear calls to action in the ad, but will also help with the creative development of the ad itself—from storyline planning to filming and final editing.
4. Create a Storyline That Reflects Your Brand
To make the most of your budget, develop a storyline that is consistent with your brand and that will help meet your overall ad goal. An effective TV commercial storyline is simple, entertaining, and tailored to your ideal customer. To create one, start by brainstorming concepts and then use a storyboard to map out your ideas before filming.
When creating a storyline, follow these guidelines:
- Start by brainstorming: After you decide to create a TV commercial for your business, start brainstorming storyline ideas that are consistent with your brand and marketing goals.
- Use a storyboard: Once you finalize a story idea for your commercial, use a storyboard to organize sequences and test out ideas. In addition to helping you develop a cohesive storyline, working through complicated ideas and potential problems before filming can help you save money during production.
- Create a signature character: As you develop your storyline, develop a signature character or theme that you can carry throughout a series of commercials. This will help your audience relate to your commercials, increase viewer engagement, and help with recognizability.
- Make it relatable: The more people who connect with your story on a personal level, the more memorable it will be. Make your storyline relatable for your target audience and you will earn the attention and loyalty of your preferred customers.
- Represent your brand: As you write the storyline and script for your TV commercial, incorporate verbal and visual references to your brand. Clearly represent your brand, products, and services, but don’t be too aggressive or obnoxious about your message.
- Include a relevant call to action: Unless you’re airing an ad explicitly for brand awareness, you should give viewers some action to take. This can be calling a number, visiting a website, or attending an event. Make sure the information required to complete your desired action is clear and easily understandable.
If you need some inspiration for your commercial, work with a freelancer on Fiverr. Depending on your needs, you can hire a marketing specialist to help create a storyline that is consistent with your brand. Alternatively, if you already have a story idea but need help creating a script, you can use the platform to hire a writer for as little as $5. Click here to find a freelancer for your needs.
5. Decide How to Measure Engagement
As with other forms of advertising, it is important to measure the return on investment (ROI) of your TV commercial. To do so, obtain a vanity phone number from a provider like Grasshopper that you can include in your ad; when viewers call, you know they got the number from your commercial. You can also get a commercial-specific vanity URL from a domain provider like GoDaddy. All users who navigate to that URL will be viewers of your ad.
In addition to airing your commercial on TV channels, post it on social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. These platforms enable you to track views and viewer engagements to learn more about who is interacting with your brand. You can also add a specific hashtag to each commercial to further track viewer engagement. Finally, you can ask new customers where they heard about your business to determine if your ad is effective.
6. Gather a Team of Actors & Videographers
The overall quality of your TV commercial will directly affect how your audience—and potential customers—perceive your brand and products. For that reason, it’s important to gather a professional team of actors, videographers, and production specialists to film your commercial. Though more expensive than filming yourself, hiring a professional crew will result in a higher-quality commercial and make it easier to transform the raw footage into a commercial.
If you don’t have the budget to hire professional actors and production crew, work with your friends and coworkers to find people who can help with your commercial for free or at a low cost. If you have some room in your budget, use a platform like Facebook or Craigslist to find actors. You can also contact the drama department at your local university or ask around for referrals.
7. Film the Commercial
Two of the most important elements of your TV commercial are video and audio quality; these directly impact how potential customers perceive your business. If there is room in your budget, hire a professional production company or work with the film department at a local university to ensure you have access to experienced professionals and high-quality recording equipment.
Important considerations when filming a commercial include:
Depending on your budget, you may need to film your commercial yourself without the help of a professional production crew. If this is the case, invest in a camera that records full-quality HD footage, use a tripod to capture stable footage, and use an audio recorder to make sure you’re capturing clear, high-quality audio. Also, purchase a few memory cards so you can capture enough footage to edit into a 15- to 60-second commercial.
The best place to film your TV commercial depends on your budget and storyline. If you have a large budget, consider filming at a soundstage where you can ensure the highest video and sound quality. Alternatively, smaller budgets may be better suited to filming at your place of business.
When creating a TV commercial, expect to spend at least two days filming. More complex commercials may take between seven and 10 days to capture enough footage for a final, edited commercial. Likewise, less professional commercials may be filmed in as little as one day. If you’re planning to film more than one commercial spot, consider filming them all at once over a longer filming period.
8. Edit Your Commercial Footage
In general, studies show that 15-second commercials are not long enough to create consumer recall and 60-second commercials feel too long for many viewers. However, the ideal commercial length depends on your business’ needs. Once you capture enough footage, hire a professional editor or use a free software like OpenShot to edit the commercial yourself.
If you worked with a professional production company to film the commercial, they may have an editor on staff who can turn their footage into a final product. If you don’t have a video editor on staff and don’t want to pay for a full production company, consider hiring an editor through Fiverr. The platform’s selection of experienced freelancers makes it easy to hire a professional video editor for as little as $5. Click here to find an affordable editor.
9. Select Your TV Network
The final step in creating a TV commercial is choosing where to air your ad. In general, local networks are best for small businesses that serve a limited geographic area and want to build general brand awareness. Cable network ads typically have a higher price tag than local TV, but they enable businesses to target a more specific audience. Once you choose between a broadcast and cable network, evaluate you client demographics to choose a specific channel.
Follow these steps when choosing a TV network to air your new commercial:
Decide Between Broadcast (Local) & Cable
In general, local networks are the most cost-effective placement for TV commercials. What’s more, local broadcast channels typically have more diverse audiences. This makes broadcast channels ideal for local brick-and-mortar businesses that want to target potential customers in a specific geographic area. These networks are also better for companies that want to increase brand awareness across more general audiences.
Alternatively, airing a commercial on a cable channel is more expensive than local channels. However, because cable channels air extremely specific content, you can choose a niche that will target your ideal audience. For this reason, cable networks are the better choice for companies that have a larger budget and more brand awareness, and want to focus their commercials on very specific demographics.
Choose a Station
The best station to air your commercial depends on your ideal clients. For that reason, you should choose a TV station based on the target audience you identified early in the commercial development process, when you’re evaluating your marketing needs. Consider the age, gender, income, education level, and other demographics of your ideal customer. Then, research viewer demographics for local or cable stations and choose the one that will best serve your audience.
Who TV Commercials Are Right For
TV commercials can help small business owners expand the reach of advertising and marketing campaigns beyond local clients. Ads are also well-suited to businesses that offer visually appealing products or services. For example, businesses like restaurants and car dealerships that have to entice customers with appealing products may have the most success with TV commercials.
In general, TV commercials are best for:
The success of restaurants depends on whether potential customers are attracted to the food and ambiance. Restaurant owners can use TV commercials to show their signature dishes and depict satisfied diners.
Most people choose a car based on aesthetic features like seating area, interior finishes, and paint color. TV commercials are well-suited to car dealerships because they can visually highlight everything about their inventory. For example, if you’re using TV commercials to advertise your auto dealership, include video of your newest models; if you have a service center, show potential clients that you have the facilities to keep their cars running smoothly.
Travel & Hospitality Businesses
When preparing for a trip, consumers frequently choose airlines, hotels, and other amenities based on how the facilities look and whether or not other people enjoy them. TV commercials are a great way to convey this information to potential customers. If you have a travel or hospitality business, use commercials to show happy guests and destinations that will be most enticing for your target audience.
Health & Fitness Businesses
Gyms and other health and fitness businesses gain clients by convincing people they will look and feel better if they join. One of the best ways to do this is to air TV commercials that show happy, healthy-looking people at your gym facilities. Health and fitness business owners should, therefore, use TV commercials to show off their most up-to-date facilities and enthusiastic, fit clients.
Clothing & Fashion Industries
Fashion and clothing brands typically focus their advertising efforts on enticing people to purchase products based on aesthetics. For that reason, the best way to advertise fashion brands is with a visual platform like television. This allows businesses to showcase their most eye-catching designs and seasonal looks.
How Much TV Commercials Cost
TV commercial costs depend on factors including production costs, ad length, network, and air time. A day of filming and production typically costs $500 to $5,000 for a team of three. Businesses may pay $5 to $34 per 1,000 viewers for a local ad and approximately $115,000 for national 30-second ad airings.
Costs of a TV commercial typically include:
- Production costs: The cost of producing a TV commercial varies widely depending on the length and desired quality of your advertisement. With Fiverr, however, you can hire a freelance producer for as little as $5.
- Cost to air: To estimate the cost of airing your TV commercial, multiply the number of spots you want by the number of viewers in thousands for your preferred spot and then multiply this by the cost per thousand viewers (CPM). For example, if you want two spots to reach 1,000 viewers with a CPM of $100 (2 x 1 x 100), your cost will be approximately $200.
3 Tips From the Pros on How to Make a Commercial
Creating a TV commercial can be an intimidating process, especially for a small business owner who hasn’t utilized video advertising before. To help, we talked to video marketers and business owners from across the country to get their best tips for how to make a commercial.
Our three favorite tips for creating a commercial are:
Bottom Line — How to Create a Commercial
The best way to create a commercial depends on your target audience, your budget, and your business’ current marketing strategy. Before you come up with a TV commercial idea, evaluate your current advertising campaigns and figure out where a commercial will fit within future campaigns. Then, create a storyline that is relatable, memorable, and representative of your brand. Finally, film and edit your commercial and choose a network to air your new ad.
If you’re ready to boost your advertising strategy with TV commercials but don’t want to hire a professional production team, consider hiring freelancers through Fiverr. You can choose from a variety of professionals for as little as $5 per gig. Click here to see all of the experts available on the platform.