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Anatomy Of A Television Commercial

Furniture World Magazine


Create television commercials that bring in customers!

It's another typical Monday morning for nearly every CEO in home furnishings stores in America, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, Australia, Japan and Asia. What went wrong with business this past weekend. We didn't reach our goals. Too few came into the store. It must have been the headline in the newspaper ad.

To a few, a precious few who have taken a different direction over the past several years, that is not their problem. They don't care about the headline in the newspaper because there wasn't an ad placed in the newspaper. They only care about the margins they have made over the weekend. And the biggest problem they are experiencing is carrying the money they have made to the bank. They are the ones who have discovered the best friend a home furnishings retailer ever had... TELEVISION.

The other day, a leading bedding manufacturer suggested that the biggest change he has seen in the past several years was the amount of dealers wanting television commercials they could use in their local market, when in the past, they were asking about advertising slicks. "We might as well shut down the print department. It no longer is necessary." Absolutely! Positively! Great move! It's about time.

Now the big question is how to get on television and not look like the used car dealer down the block.

And, the biggest part of this equation is understanding that there has to be some funds set aside to produce a commercial which will not get you laughed at behind your back by your neighbors.

THING ONE: The first thing you have to understand if you want your stores to look good on television, is that you need to have an advertising budget which provides for a good amount of production value. The quality you put into your commercial will show dollar-for-dollar back to your prospective customer. What is a good amount to invest in production (for the entire year) into television commercials that sell? Approximately 18% of your total advertising budget should be put into your electronic production budget (both radio and television).

THING TWO: The second thing you have to understand is that you should produce your commercial on film, not videotape, not on digital video cameras, not on the latest gimmick promoted by your local television or cable station. Their job is to get you on the air by hook or by crook. Your job is to get you on the air in a way that will drive potential customers into your store so you can sell them.

Sure, film costs more but it gives you the look and feel you need to get the public to respond. Film is a dimensional medium that has peaks and valleys to absorb the light, color and texture you need to present. Tape is flat. It is hard. It reflects. It does not absorb. Tape is realism, with all of the shades of black and white. Film is colorful, friendly, warm, responsive. Fabrics rise, colors pop, finishes look the way the manufacturer intended. Polys shine. Leathers engulf. Colors become rich and warm. It is little wonder why nearly 100% of all network commercials are shot on film, not videotape. You see, you have to remember that you compete with the national commercials. You compete for that dollar they are trying to take away from you. You compete with every dollar your neighbors spend on cars, hair products, cruises, airline tickets, big-ticket items and small ticket items. There are just so many dollars in the wallet. You have to want your SHARE OF THE WALLET.

That is what fighting in the trenches of retail is all about today. You have to absolutely demand your SHARE OF THE WALLET.

Film makes you an equal. It also puts you into another class. To the potential customer, you are above the rest in your industry. Your commercials automatically look better. They represent exactly who you are with all the brilliance of color and movement. It is your store.

Yes it costs money to shoot your commercials on film, but this investment will pay you back in huge dividends.

Some of the leading home furnishings stores in the nation; stores like Robb & Stucky, Huffman-Koos, Good's, Breuners, Homestead House, Plunkett's, Krispin's and Jonns have all of their commercials shot on film. The reason is simple. They need to have their investment in television work. And film allows them to have the assurance that the return will be there.

Plus, it sets them apart from everyone else in the audience.

Some retailers rely on manufacturers to provide them with the footage to create the local commercials. This is good. Companies like Stanley, Hooker, Sligh, Tiengin-Philadelphia and Crosswinds have footage available for you right now. And, if you don't have the creative resources within your structure, they can provide you with commercials that will work for you in your local markets. Stanley and Hooker will even provide you with the ability to have your commercials custom-made to your specifications. All of their footage has been shot on film (in both of their cases, on 35mm motion picture stock).

And there are companies like ours who can film in your store.

THING THREE: The third thing you have to understand is that television works. It can't sell your product. You sell your product. But it can bring in the qualified people who would, who should or who could purchase from you if you have the products they are looking for and are displayed with intelligence and vision.

THING FOUR: The fourth thing that you have to understand is that television works like most advertising. The more you put in and the longer you stick with it, the better it pays off. Don't jump in and jump out. That only sends a confusing message to the public. Stick with it. Stay with it. Send the messages you want out to the consuming public over and over again. Remember, just when it is beginning to get tiresome to you, it is only beginning to work.

THING FIVE: The fifth thing to remember is to put PEOPLE in your commercials. FURNITURE is for PEOPLE, not for settings in shelter publications. People buy furniture for people. They do not buy it for Arch Digest look-a-like contest winners.

Television shows movement. That's part of it's magic.

One other thing. You don't always have to sell product to get the customer to watch your commercials and fall in love with your company. Some of the more successful dealers use special events to capture the hearts and minds of the buying public. Take for instance, Robb & Stucky. During February, when everyone was yelling sale, sale, sale, they were running a commercial regarding the dedication of people who participated in the Olympics. On Veteran's Day, they run a commercial that is dedicated to all of the women and men who have served us in the Armed Forces. Prior to Election Day, they are found running "Go Out And Vote" commercials, to further enhance and promote the privilege freedom brings. This is Active Citizen Action. It is any wonder they are always considered the best when annual rankings come out for those most admired within our industry.

OK. It's time to stop selling used cars. Start selling home furnishings.

It is a terrific time to sell home furnishings. Make sure you do it right this year.

Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at lhanish@furninfo.com.