(Part 2 of a two-part series. See part 1.)

Cable television is one of the best advertising venues available today, provided you know how to capitalize on this highly targeted means of reaching buyers and sellers.

I recently had a conversation with Josh Konowe of www.E-Agent.biz. Josh has a strong background in advertising and television. His company provides agents who purchase their Web site/Internet search products with an additional option of targeted cable advertising. There’s a great deal involved in producing a high-quality television ad that actually generates leads.

Before embarking on creating your own cable television commercials, there are some important points you will need to consider. According to Josh, the cost of cable television advertising has dramatically declined due to the proliferation of cable and satellite television. Local cable operators are eager to obtain local advertisers because if they don’t, they end up running the ads from the big companies to fill space. Without local advertising, major advertisers can quadruple their exposure at no additional cost to them. Bottom line–your local cable television operator is eager to do business with you because it represents more revenue for them.

The next question is what you will need in terms of the actual ad itself. First, you will need a 30-second commercial and a 60-second commercial. The cable company will decide which one it will run depending on how much space is available. A typical 30-60 second spot can cost $5,000-$10,000 to produce. Clearly, this is much more than most agents are willing to spend.

Josh’s company customizes a highly professional, pre-produced spot that is customized for its client base with a one-time production cost ranging from $750 to $1,350. On the other hand, if you would like to produce your own commercial, here are some guidelines.

1. Probably the least expensive approach is to have a single screen with a voice-over. Adding virtual tours or advertising specific listings significantly increases production costs. By keeping it simple, you control costs and deliver a consistent message.

2. Prominently display your “easy-to-remember” Web site name. Remember, people are poor at remembering names, so it’s wise to choose a Web site address that references function rather than a name. For example, AustinProbateSellers.com, LakesideHorseProperties.com, SanDiegoOceanViewHomes.com, etc.

3. Include an 800 Call Capture number, which will give people who would like to call you a way to reach you by phone rather than the Internet.

4. To gather names from your ad, you will have to drive the viewer to your Web site. You can do this with the offer of money-saving reports (i.e. “Save Thousands on Your Next Purchase”), drawings or by offering a 24-7 Open House. To create a 24-7 open house, merely put the links to a number of virtual tours on your Web site. The Web visitor clicks to the 24-7 link and can view the “open house” online.

5. Your picture is optional. People remember faces, but remember to brand using function.

Because you want your ad to be very professional, I strongly recommend hiring a graphics designer to give you the high-quality look you want to achieve. A great place to locate graphic designers is on www.elance.com. You can pre-screen each designer’s work, as well as the cost. The designer pays the Elance fee, not the person using the designer’s services. A good design will range in price from $250-$500.

Next, you will want to create a 30- and a 60-second message. In terms of what to say, listen to the ads placed by the national real estate companies. You will also need a powerful script that you record professionally. Your script should reference the visuals on your screen–your Web site address, your phone number and your offer of “free services,” such as the money-saving reports or the 24-7 open houses. If your local area does not have a professional recording studio, check with your local community college or local radio station for suggestions. If you don’t have a great voice, hire someone who does.

The next question is who to target and how to reach them. Cable television lets you advertise by zip code or by a given radius from a central location. An excellent resource for placing your ad is Thompson Everett. There is no charge for its media kits, which provide a wealth of information on how to effectively use this medium.

In terms of the cost, cable advertisers usually sell “blocks” of users. (A typical block might be 79,000 users). You can also advertise by county, states or regions. Depending on the size of your viewing area, you could be advertised on CNN, Discovery or ESPN for as little as $8-$10 per spot.

So with a little work, a little cost, and some careful planning, you too can be a star!

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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