Saturday, May 14, 2011

Should a B2B Business Consider Doing a Television Commercial?

Recently I have been asked by a couple of companies who market to other businesses to do a television campaign for them. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical taking this on. In the past I have actually turned down these tpes of clients. When we produce a television commercial we want the client to be successful, make money so that we in turn can produce and place more commercials for them. Producing a commercial for consumers allows for more creativity, and the market is easier to pinpoint.

While producing a video for a client who markets to other companies, I was reminded that the objective of the video is to open the possibility of a sale and not close it. Just because you want your customers to buy your product or service, it doesn’t mean they want to hear what you have to say. You first need to understand the complicated world that your prospective clients live and work in. If you direct your pitch with this in mind, they will listen and respond.

I started remembering what David Ogilvy had said. "The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife", and “The prospect isn't a robot; he is your neighbor”. David Mackenzie Ogilvy, was a well-known advertising executive, and was often called "The Father of Advertising". In 1962, Time magazine called him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry". He built his career expanding the bounds of both creativity and morality in advertising. One of David Ogilvy's principles, in particular, is that the function of advertising is to sell and that successful advertising for any product is based on information about its consumer. These are important basics that I seemed to have forgotten when it came to B2B television advertising.

When writing the script for my client’s video, I realized that companies don't buy his product, people do. In presenting his product there was a different sale to be addressed and that was the actual person who was going to use it. When McDonald’s advertises on television, who are the commercials directed to, adults or children? Actually it’s both. You need to convince the owner of the company along with the person who is going to use your product or service. If a B2B television ad is going to work you need to direct it to the owner or CEO who is probably male and over 50. You also need to direct it to the person who will answer your sales calls when and if you do direct follow up. This person is usually a female. In my client’s case he needed to get past the person who answered the telephone, and get to the person who was responsible in making the purchasing decisions.

About 70% of people know what AFLAC is, but hardly anybody knows exactly what or how they do it (around 4%). AFLAC markets to businesses with 7 or more employees. They market to businesses because by having their employees purchase additional insurance, businesses get to decrease their tax liability. Once they establish an account through the company they proceed to meet with their employees one-on-one to sell them. Overall (nationwide), AFLAC has a batting average of 60-70% once they get to talk to the employee face to face. Their television commercials are directed to the employees and not the companies. Obviously this makes it easier to sell their insurance, as the employees are already familiar with the brand.

It’s important to target your message to the end user and co-workers. Inspire them to pass along the video and your message. Create a campaign where they see themselves using your service or product to make their work environment safer or less stressful and easier. This can often be done in a humorous way. Producing a commercial that is humorous or fun will more often than not be remembered and passed along to other co-workers. Many times this will require more than one commercial, as in the case of McDonald’s. You will need to deliver your message to the “adult” and the child”, and the “boss and the employee”. Both will have a major influence on the decision whether to buy or not.

Knowing all this now, I am no longer going to shy away from clients asking to do a commercial with other businesses as targets. It just presents a different challenge. However, with the proper research and strategizing tools, a successful campaign can be viably produced.

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