For many local businesses in markets all across the country, advertising on their local TV station means business. But what really makes this relationship a win-win for both parties is the ability of the stations to offer to create the commercials for these small, usually locally owned businesses, be they restaurants, car dealers, nurseries and […]
But what really makes this relationship a win-win for both parties is the ability of the stations to offer to create the commercials for these small, usually locally owned businesses, be they restaurants, car dealers, nurseries and appliance stores.
“The service is invaluable,” said Matt Dunn, the local sales manager for WXYZ, Scripps’ ABC affiliate in Detroit. “It’s kind of our unfair advantage.”
“We’ve had quite a few success stories,” adds Brian Halas, WXYZ’s director of commercial production. “Local TV has everything that high-end production place would have.”
“To be able to go out to the client with a team of people, make a presentation, pitch ideas, show story boards, this is how we have a competitive advantage in the market place. Not only are we going to take care of your advertising buy, we’re also going to produce your commercial. When you do all that, it’s hard for them to say no.”
A WXYZ client who’s glad he didn’t say no is Joe Legato, general manager and owner of Bill and Rod’s Appliance in Detroit.
“My account exec came in and offered something different,” said Legato. “He said he wanted to make sure the community knew who we were.”
In television markets small and large, stations have been partnering with local businesses to not only sell them advertising time on the station, but help them with marketing plans, branding concepts, creative copywriting and high-end video production at significantly reduced rates or for free.
“Local TV has everything that a high-end production place would have,” said Halas.
Most stations mention using either the Canon or Panasonic series of DSLR cameras costing less than $5,000, which deliver high-definition, film-like video. Hollywood movies are being made using these same cameras. And most nearly every station uses After Effects and Motion, 3D software animation for sharp, clean graphics that integrate seamlessly with video edit systems like Final Cut Pro.
Halas said his department has a staff of three full-time people that routinely creates about 30 local commercials per month.
When you hear the word “localism” applied to stations, most often it refers to news coverage and community involvement. But the ability to help make local businesses succeed is great for everybody’s bottom line, not to mention the national economy as a whole.
“We’d rather see their money go to media,” said Dunn, “getting their message out there, rather than video production, so they’re very thankful.”
This idea of providing commercial production to local businesses is fundamental to the success of many local businesses and area stations.
As I’ve heard said from a lot of local TV sales account execs and managers, “control the production and you control the buy.”
How’s that work?
When Station A in the market does an advertiser’s commercial production, that station tends to get the larger percentage of the on-air budget. The advertiser might spend money advertising on other stations in the market, using the very spot Station A produced, but more often than not, it’s a smaller percentage of the overall buy.
“It strengthens the relationship with the client,” said Dunn, “to be able to take something from concept to completion, see it work, and watch their businesses grow. You can’t put it into words how important it is.”
It’s the process of getting a deep understanding of the clients’ needs in order to create the right message that often leads to a more meaningful relationship between the advertiser and the station producing the commercial.
“It’s really about starting with the advertiser, asking the right questions,” said Dunn. “What do your customers care about, what’s the message?
“When you go beyond ‘what’s your budget’ and ask them in-depth questions about their business, they really understand that you’re trying to help them. It’s a collaborative effort, between your client and the station’s creative department.”
“They actually sat down with me,” said Legato, “and asked what is it that you want to do. They worked with us and came up with this idea, so that it fit exactly what we wanted to say.”
The “idea” the folks at WXYZ came up with included using Legato and his mom, Linda.
“We did a whole campaign of slapstick, funny commercials between mother and son and we’ve done it for a year-and-a-half now,” said Halas.
“Now everybody in the market knows who they are and what to expect.”
The campaign is a success where it counts the most, at the cash register. “From when we first started, we consistently see 10%-20 % more volume,” said Legato.
“They made sure they coupled the advertising with a digital campaign as well. Everything flowed together to deliver a consistent message.”
What’s your station’s story? Share your local commercials that were done in-house for clients so we can highlight this essential advantage that stations offer.