If you’ve ever watched a television commercial and thought, “I would love to shoot something for my real estate business and not only get a ton of sales but become a celebrity in my town,” I have some advice for you. The following are eight very important things to consider:
1. Know what you want to shoot
Most Realtors have an idea for a commercial they think would be clever and memorable. Before beginning, look at your strengths and weaknesses; if in your commercial you are going for laughs, but you’re not funny by nature, you might have a problem.
Serious commercials are a harder sell. Not many people want to watch a Realtor stand there bragging about how great they are.
I personally recommend doing something humorous. People like to laugh, and they will be more open to doing business with you if they think you are fun and have a sense of humor.
Also keep in mind that your commercial should be memorable. A good commercial stays with the viewer long after it’s over.
2. Prepare a script, and perform it for close friends
This is a tough one. You will never feel more vulnerable than when acting out your idea to someone else. Ask them to be honest (even though deep down you might not want them to be!)
They’ll probably never respond how you want them to — they won’t be as excited about your idea as you are, but don’t get discouraged. I’ve had reviews range from, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen” to “That’s brilliant — you are sitting on a goldmine.”
And these reviews were for the same 30-second spot.
Performing it also gives you a chance to time it. Your commercial must be 30 seconds — no more, no less.
And don’t forget you’ll have a tag at the end that will take up some time. A tag is the last shot of the commercial where, for example, you could be standing next your sign saying a clever catch phrase.
This tag will give you some relief; if the commercial is running too short or long, you can adjust the length of your tag to compensate.
3. Be memorable, and have a call to action
It’s OK if your commercial is crazy as long as it’s funny. People like to laugh, and they will like you if they like your commercial. You have 30 seconds to grab the audience and get them to call you or go to your website.
If your call to action sends them to your website, you must have something of interest to keep them there. If your website is just another website the bounce rate is going to be high.
The cable company Spectrum put $20 million into 10 commercials using a mummy, the grim reaper, a puppet and a devil to explain the horrors of having your satellite go out in the rain.
Those commercials are funny and bizarre, and people love them — that’s why Spectrum keeps running them.
I used a puppet and an Icelandic model in my last commercial. (I used the same puppet from the Spectrum commercials, but don’t tell them!)
If you don’t have an idea but still want to do commercials, your local cable company can write, produce, direct and air them for you.
4. Do you have production experience?
Writing, acting, directing, lighting or filming experience? If not, then prepare to have the cable company do it all for you — just keep in mind that the more they do, the more you pay.
If you go to them with a script ready, prepare for them to tell you they love it. They want to shoot and air it — that’s how they make their money — but if it bombs it’s not their fault since you wrote it.
If you do have some experience, try shooting the commercial yourself. Just keep in mind that if what you shoot looks cheap and the idea is cheesy, your ad campaign could have the opposite effect and you could lose business.
(Before you shoot it yourself, make sure you ask the cable company what format they want it to be delivered in.)
5. If you hire a crew to film, consider doing more than one commercial
Production crews usually charge by the day. That means from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can have them shoot whatever you have scheduled in those nine hours. Do you have a second idea? If so, have them shoot that too.
It shouldn’t cost that much more. During the last shoot I did, I was able to shoot a 30-second spot, a two-minute spot and a 14-minute behind-the-scenes video all for one price.
6. Film a ‘behind-the-scenes video’
I highly recommend doing some kind of behind-the-scenes video to post on your website as people love to see the workings of movie magic. This will also keep them on your website longer, and they’ll get to know you more.
My behind the scenes video was of the puppet showing us what it’s like to be a classically trained English actor on the set of a low-budget commercial.
I posted that video on Facebook before I posted the commercial, and within a couple days, I got around 30,000 views.
7. Acting talent
You may need to use actors at some point. Even though your friends would love for you to cast them, you just don’t know what you’re going to get when you stick a camera in their face on shoot day.
Make sure you are comfortable and natural in front of the camera, or you’ll come off awkward — and you don’t want that. If you don’t look confident, viewers may feel you’re not confident in your business.
If you need acting talent, go to your local theater or college drama department for candidates. Remember to rehearse a lot (and record rehearsals on a cell phone.) There is nothing worse than having your actors freeze on filming day.
Most actors would be excited to act in a commercial and would probably do it for free, but you need to pay them (and feed them). That’s always worked for me.
Have them agree to the money and have them sign a Talent Consent and Release form. You can get this form off the internet.
By the way, if you have a specific character and you need a top-notch actor, that will cost you more.
8. You’ll need an editor
The cable company can provide you with one. Ask to be a part of the editing process. Let the editor cut it down to something that is close to being finished, but you want to be there to polish it.
It’s so much easier if you are with him or her in the editing bay because texting your preferences back and forth can take forever, and you won’t feel that you ever get your point across.
Editing is so important. The right editor can make a funny commercial funnier, but the wrong one can ruin it.
I cannot stress enough the importance of shooting your idea on your cell phone to make sure it’ll really work. Do this before you sign on to have the commercial shot professionally (and obviously before you sign a long-term contract to air it).
The prices for commercial runs are more reasonable than people think. A lot of my runs are from $4 to as much as $50 a run. Whatever you do, do not put your entire advertising budget into this form of advertising.
Also remember that commercials don’t create new business over night — they take time, so be patient.
I highly recommend this form of advertising as many great things can happen as a result of being on television. My first commercials made me a local celebrity, and my business went through the roof.
I own the company now, and I just produced two more commercials and have been asked to be a semi-regular on a reality show.
You never know what can happen. A commercial just might change your life.
Phil Nordella is a co-owner of Realty Executives and has been successfully selling for over 25 years in the Santa Clarita Valley. Connect with him on Facebook, check out his YouTube channel or visit his website.