The Advertising Agency
for Today's Serious
Real Estate Professional

The Do’s and Don’ts of Television Advertising

TV can have a powerful effect on your marketing campaign…but only if it’s done the right way.

Hi. I’m glad to see you made it. A lot of people probably saw the topic of this month’s tip and automatically assumed, ‚ÄúWell, that’s not for me. There’s no way I can afford to advertise on TV. And therein lies the beauty of television advertising.

The power of television is immeasurable. It will exponentially increase the effectiveness of all your other marketing. And before you make the same mistake the others who never read this article did, I’ll make you a deal: If you do the research, I’ll guarantee you’ll find that air time on your local cable company is much more affordable than you might have first thought.

It’s that perceived value that makes television so powerful. If a homeowner who has been receiving your direct mail materials (brochure, PowerKards, etc.) sees you on TV, he/she instantly associates you with success. Wow. That agent must be really successful to be on TV, conventional wisdom dictates.

Now admittedly, if you don’t already have a high-quality, emotionally stimulating marketing campaign in place, a television commercial is not for you yet. But for those of you who already have a direct mail campaign in high gear, I strongly urge you to at the very minimum call your local cable company and request a media kit, including the latest advertising rate sheet.

And should your findings inspire you to take that step and elevate your campaign to the next level, I present to you the five Do’s and Don’ts of Television Advertising:

1. Take Advantage of the Medium
Television’s greatest asset is its ability to combine audio and visual into one package, making it the most realistic and emotional advertising medium. That’s what gives it such power. So by all means, take advantage of it! Use live action, and that doesn’t mean simply showing you standing around dictating a commercial script from memory. Be active! Ride your bike through town. Play with your kids. Make the emotional connection by using capitalizing on the visual capabilities of the medium.

What this means: Don‚’t Use Stills.
Unfortunately, once they decide to go for it and give TV advertising a shot, many real estate agents fail. The number one reason why they fail is because they cut corners by attempting to save money in the production of their commercial. Instead of using live action, they opt for panning over a series of photos, graphics, talking heads or some combination thereof.

One of the easiest ways to avoid this pitfall is by preparing yourself for the upfront investment in your commercial. Chances are, your cable company will try to make a sweetheart deal, perhaps even going as far as offering to produce your commercial for free, as long as you agree to advertise for a certain amount of time. Resist the temptation! You definitely get what you pay for. You know that horrible commercial for the local pizza place or maybe the dry cleaners? Well, that was a freebie, and you certainly don’t want to become the laughingstock of your farm area.

One low-cost alternative is to find out if your local community college or university offers television production courses. If they do, they’ll often produce local commercials pro bono as part of student projects. Otherwise, you should typically budget between $2,000-$4,000 for the production of your commercial. I’d be leery of anything less.

2. Use TV for Image Building
The primary purpose of your commercial should be to get your name in the heads of consumers. To do so, simply take the theme of your personal brochure and translate it to television. In essence, act out the emotional involving aspects of your brochure.

What this means: Don’t Do House Ads on TV
In case you aren’t familiar with my stance on house advertising, here’s a preview of next month’s tip, where I will explain in depth why I believe house ads are a pathetic waste of money. As worthless as I believe house ads are in print, that worthlessness is only amplified on TV. Those cable TV home shows are a tremendous waste of money that would be much better spent on ads that build your image instead of the same old houses on the market.

3. Make an Emotional Connection
Bring the emotion of your brochure to life. Hug your kids. Ride your motorcycle at top speeds. These images are compelling and emotionally captivating.

What this means: Avoid the Clich Real Estate Poses
If, in your commercial script, you find yourself standing next to a Sold sign, handing keys to clients or shaking hands in front of a house, start over. These images are nothing but trite real estate images that will do nothing to connect with the viewer. They’re so overused they’ve become clich in the real estate industry. These images will not differentiate yourself from the crowd, and the money you put into television will be a complete waste. Enough said.

4. Think Locally, Think Niche
What you’ll see when you receive your media kit from your cable company may amaze you. Surely you’re familiar with the fact that television shows are analyzed ad nauseam for demographic makeup, but the extent to which it’s done may still surprise you. What this means is that television allows you to reach a very specific target market ‚Äî upscale, middle American, families, singles, every ethnic group you may want to reach. With the plethora of cable channels out there, for just about any category you can think of, there’s a show that will deliver the desired audience.

What this means: Don’t Be Afraid to Specialize
Attempting to be everything to everybody will get you nowhere. Agents often fear excluding part of the audience. They think, Well, this commercial will be seen by 10,000 homes. How do I appeal to all of them?

This narrow-minded thinking will lead to narrow profits. Ironically, open-mindedness in advertising means you’re willing to narrow-focus your message. The more tailored your message, the stronger response it will generate. Don’t be afraid to specialize. Think about some of the service providers you use, and I’ll bet you’ll realize the reason they got where they are is not because they appealed to everyone across the board, but rather because they positioned themselves as the experts in their field.

5. Use TV in Conjunction with Other Marketing Methods
The most powerful effect of a television campaign will be seen in the results of your direct mail campaign. Studies show that when advertisers rely solely on television to deliver their message, the results are not as powerful as when television is used to supplement a direct mail campaign. Again, it’s all due to the perception that television is very costly, which leads the viewer to believe that to be on television, you must have a highly successful business.

What this means: Get All Your Ducks in a Row.

Remember, direct mail is still by far the most effective medium for any personal marketing campaign. Therefore, don’t rely on television for your entire campaign. Don’t let yourself get so anxious to see yourself on TV that you jump the gun without having the foundation on which to build a successful long-term campaign.

Hopefully these tips give you a much better understanding of what to do and not to do when you make the leap onto the small screen. If you’re interested in integrating television into your campaign or simply want more information, I encourage you to join us at an upcoming Gateway seminar, where we explore this topic in much more depth.

There’s truly a world of opportunity out there, and right now, very few real estate agents are taking advantage of it. The more people learn about the affordability of television advertising, the less impactful it will be. What are you waiting for? Now is the time to capitalize on TV. If you’re up to the challenge, take these tips to heart and go for it.

To encourage you to look into this powerful marketing tool, I’ll make you a deal, but you have to act fast. If you send a copy of your cable company’s rate sheet along with some local information, I will send you an E-mail analysis including recommendations on cable channels that will match your desired market, where to advertise and how much you should spend on each channel. The catch is that you have to send the information to me by the end of October, so pick up the phone and call your cable company today!