Jay Conrad Levinson Speaks: Guerrilla Television

-Our guest blogger- Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the best-selling marketing series in history, “Guerrilla Marketing,” plus 30 other books. His books have sold 14 million copies worldwide. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that today his books appear in 41 languages and are required reading in many MBA programs worldwide. He was a teacher and sounding board for The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. and Marion Ross, Ph.D.) ; and after many discussions strongly encouraged us to publish a book (soon to be released) designed to assist people who struggle with implementing tools learned in business or entrepreneurial coaching programs due to self-sabotage. For more on Jay Conrad Levinson visit www.gmarketing.com

Guerrilla Television

Television time is more inexpensive than ever. It can also be more effective than ever if you understand it. This column will help.

Just as radio didn’t disappear when TV entered our lives, TV won’t disappear now that being online is rapidly becoming part of our lives. Yes, it’s true that people are spending more time with their PCs and less time with their TVs and it’s also true that the lines between them are blurring. But television deserves a place in the arsenal of a small business now more than ever.

The main reasons why this is true are:

Television now allows you to target your audience more precisely than you could in the part. It lets you single out specific groups of people, such as business people, and it enables you to home in on selected neighborhoods in your community. These phenomena are due to the growth of cable TV.

Television is now more affordable than it ever has been, in many cases lower in cost than radio. Direct response companies by the carload are discovering this and also discovering there is a 24-hour viewing audience out there with even lower rates and there are program-length infomercials that cost what regular one-minute spots used to cost. Again, we tip our hats to the cable industry for putting TV within everybody’ reach.

This column will set you straight and tell you the truth about television use and production so that you avoid the multitude of mistakes made by non-guerrillas stumbling down the TV trail before you. You will end up understanding TV so clearly that it will be effective for you, though not from Day One. Guerrillas rarely expect reward before Day Ninety.

Is it really possible to learn about television in only one column? It is not only possible to do that but also possible to unlearn many fantasies you may have believing about television commercials. Like the joke that it’s supposed to entertain and amuse, make people laugh, be a work of art. Guerrillas don’t fall for this joke. They know selling when they see selling. They know that marketing is a pretty fancy word that means selling and that selling has very little to do with entertaining and laughing.

Of the myriad of things you should know about television, I’ve limited my list here to only ten. There are one thousand ten things to know but these ten are the most important and every guerrilla knows them:

Television is inexpensive. The cost to run commercials is no more than $20 during prime time in most markets in the United States. The cost to produce a commercial, although $197,000 during l996, should run you no more than $1000. You don’t need Michael or Tiger or Dennis endorsing what you have to offer. And you’re after sales, not Emmies.

Television is a visual medium. Don’t think of it as a radio spot with pictures. Think of it as a visual story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Because over 70 percent of us mute the commercials with our remote zappers, if you’re not telling your story and saying your name visually, you’re not telling your story or saying your name at all.

Television is powered by an idea. Forget the special effects, music, staging and lighting. First think of the idea. That’s what makes a commercial successful — a strong offer, a visual expression of a good idea. Once you have the idea, everything else will fall into place. Without the idea, your commercial has hardly any chance of success.

Television is made fascinating by special effects. Many people get carried away at their opportunities to be like Steven Speilberg and fall prey to gizmos and gimmicks. Use special effects to highlight your idea, to focus on your idea, to further your idea and then you’ll see why they’re so special. Otherwise, they act like vampires, sucking attention away from your offer with their dazzle.

Television doesn’t cost as little as you think. Here I am telling you right off the bat that TV is inexpensive and here I am one minute later telling you that it’s not so inexpensive. The spots are inexpensive. The production can be inexpensive. But you’ve got to run several spots every day, several days a week, three weeks out of four, and for a minimum of three months — unless you’re making a direct response offer — before you see any glimmerings that TV is about to do the job for you. If you’re looking for instant gratification, look somewhere other than the tube.

Television is made better if you operate from a script. You need not waste your precious money having somebody produce a storyboard for you because you don’t need one. But you do need a script that tells the exact visuals and the exact sounds that will go on for 30 seconds.

Television production costs are lower if when you pre-produce with care. The way guerrillas cut $196,000 ugly dollars from their TV production costs is by have pre-production meetings where all production details are handled. These are followed by rehearsals for the talent and the technicians. There should be zero surprises on the day of the TV shooting.

Television production costs are lowered still if you produce your sound track first. After you’ve got it, you can shoot footage to match the amount of time the words and music take. Shooting sound and picture at the same time means that if a plane flies overhead or a truck drives by, you’ve got to re-shoot. Do your sound first, using professionals, then shoot the visuals.

Television’s greatest strength is its ability to demonstrate. As newspapers give the news and magazines involve readers, as radio provides intimacy and direct response adds urgency, television’s power is the way it can demonstrate. It can show before and after, with a shot of the product in use during the middle. It can hit left and right-brained people. It can combine all the art forms into a masterful blending of show and sell.

Television is still the undisputed heavyweight champion of marketing. I love online marketing so much that I’m nearly bursting with enthusiasm for it. I know it’s gonna make every other medium stronger and more effective. And I know it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when you go online. Until then and after then, you’ll find that television can talk directly to your specific target audience, that it will cost you much less than you figured, and that if you’ve got the patience to commit to a TV campaign, you’re going to be delighted at how it rewards your patience.

A final word: Just as being online doesn’t mean beans unless it’s part of a well-crafted marketing program, being on television is also no guarantee of profitability unless it is part of a program and supported with other media. Never forget that somebody once defined a TV commercial as “a dream interrupter.” I look forward to your commercials interrupting my dreams.

– For more on Jay Conrad Levinson visit www.gmarketing.com

*Check out The Shift Doctors’ books at the Amazon link by clicking here and the Meditation CDs at the digstation link by clicking here

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