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Broadcast commercials don’t have to cost and arm and a leg. Ellen Fruchtman tells you how to save your money … and limbs.

SSSHHH! Don’t tell anyone. TV commercials can be inexpensive. ?No way!? you say? Way. Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to keep those costs down: 

#1. THINK AHEAD. Before I get into technical approaches and cost-saving devices, consider your long-term objectives before producing any television commercial. Actually, consider those objectives before you even decide to market in the television medium at all. Television is certainly more expensive to produce and change than radio. So, it’s important that your creative have ?legs?. And, because television will increase your name exposure among the greatest number of people (if bought properly), it must send a message that reflects your store’s image. It can cost you more to fix a tainted image later than to create a good spot in the first place. 

#2. FILM VERSUS VIDEO. The big commercials you see on TV are usually shot on film (either 16 mm or, most likely, 35 mm). Mucho money. Wonderful look. To most people who produce or create commercials (like me), we’ll jump at the chance to produce something in film. Typically, this is reserved for big-budget companies. Can you get the same look? Pretty close. Seek a production house that has high definition digital equipment. Shooting a commercial in digital will typically run at least 35% less than shooting on film. Still too expensive? Then, your option is to shoot on Beta. That will run approximately 60% less. 

#3. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE. By that, we mean people who know what they’re doing. The key to making any commercial look professional rests by and large with the crew. Make sure your production team is experienced in the type of commercial you’re trying to shoot. For example, if you want wonderful close-ups of jewelry, you want a person or company that is experienced in tabletop production and has the proper equipment to shoot close-ups. Lighting is also key. It impacts the way your jewelry looks in your store and has equal impact on how it looks in your commercials. 

#4. MUSIC AND TALENT. Have you heard commercials featuring famous soundtracks and songs? Guess what? It’s illegal, unless you’ve paid for the rights to use that music. If the vocalist is also famous, you must cough up additional dollars for the right to use their voice. The good news is there are wonderful music libraries (typically available through a production facility) that offer music you can purchase for your commercial for under $100. When it comes to choosing an affordable voice talent, you can always cast yourself in the starring role. That wouldn’t cost you a thing. However, if you want a more professional sound, most medium- to small-sized cities have talent agencies with professional speakers who charge anywhere from $50 to $125. If possible, stay away from radio station talent. They’re typically used on any number of commercials in your market. It might be inexpensive, but you certainly will not stand out from the clutter. There are also specialty audio talent companies that offer incredible voices at a per-market per-usage fee. For example, if you’re just using the voice on a local commercial in your local market ? and that market is not one of the top 50 in the nation ? it can be very inexpensive: around $350. Be aware, however, that these professionals tend to be union talent, so there is a renewal fee after several months. On the upside, the same voice in your local spot can also be heard on prestigious national commercials ? and it cost those companies thousands more!  

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#5. LET THEM DO IT FOR YOU. Really have no money to invest in production? If you’re in a small- to mid-sized market and you just want to see if television is right for you, negotiate free production with your TV media representative. Very often, they will throw in the production for free ? especially if you consider signing a long-term contract with some level of financial commitment. Granted, the quality may not be blockbuster, but if you’re totally unsure, this may not be a bad option.  

Actually, I have a little trouble recommending this one. See #1. There is such a thing as being penny-wise and brand-foolish! 

LINETIME
what to say and when to say it 

Your customer asks the difference between two diamonds. You answer: 

?Diamonds are like women … they are all pretty, but some are prettier.?

WHY? It’s a positive way of expressing the uniqueness of each diamond. And will make the buyer think of the similarly unique beauty he’s now out buying a gift for. 

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source: Barry Baxman, Baxman & Company; Denver, CO

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