What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from TV Commercials, But Rarely Do

Minute Read

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In 2019 the United States spent nearly 23 billion on promotional actives. Television was the largest medium based in 2018, with the digital medium right behind, according to statista.com. You've seen it for yourself, either on TV or online; commercials are here to stay. If you want to level-up your game, modeling what is happening in commercials will change your perspective. They will no longer be the unwelcome pests into your home via the television or electronic device.

I suggest you never think of advertising as annoying ever again if you are in the business of selling a product or service. This is your continuing education lessons.

Much of today's advertising is poorly built for the typical business, but there's always a tidbit or two to take away. The winner is the advertising agency that was lucky enough to put the campaign together and all the people who support that industry or work.

Let's look at some popular ads.

The ads are designed for specific groups of people. Insurance company ads are designed to appeal to particular groups of people. They know they can't have the whole market, so they contrive a strategy looking for groups of people.

While many entrepreneurs are wary about excluding people from their marketing, insurance companies lean into excluding people. Let's face it; selling insurance is like putting lipstick on a pig. How do you stand out in that crowded marketplace is a big challenge?

Discounts are an easy attention grabber but not profitable without massive volume. So, as a marketer, where do you plant your stake in the ground – do you provide custom pricing based on their needs? Or will you cover obscure events that you didn't think would happen? Or the customer's needs are so unique that you have to shop in a different type of marketplace, i.e., Lloyd's of London.


Discount Savings Emphasis – the easiest to understand

GEICO – they're appealing to the audience who wants a discount. They promise fast, affordable rates. And a silly gecko. 

Liberty Mutual – promises that you only pay for what you need with the suggestion that you'll save. They go from super silly to just silly.

State Farm – today's attention grabber is a discount on your rates when you're a good driver based on your app.


Anything Can Happen Focus – these often take a few minutes before you figure out – oh yeah, this is a commercial

Farmers – they're telling you that all kinds of crazy things happen in life, not to worry, we have your back.

Allstate – follows with Mr. Mayhem, with chaos everywhere you turn.


Specific Groups of People – I know who they are talking to

USAA – their message appeals to veterans and their families. As an exclusive program, they tell you who they are looking for; everyone else need not apply.

Naturally, this is a small sampling of advertisers.

And then there are those that don't need to advertise, because people just know who to call. This is who you call for 'this.'

One of those would be Lloyd's of London, an insurance marketplace for specialty and commercial needs.

Let's look at brick and mortar stores and how they appeal to their customers.

Department Store ads

Discount and No-Frills Savings Attention - 

Walmart is the biggest that comes to mind. They know who their shoppers are. The shoppers want low prices and don't care if there's pleasant music playing or if an industrial engineer or interior designer designed the store. The same goes for big box stores, selling in bulk.  Walmart's commercials promise they are the low-price leader.

Target shoppers enjoy buying cheap but like to do it in a friendly atmosphere where the music is trendy. Target has recently remodeled its stores aiming for the younger female shopper who watches HGTV. Target looks more fun in their commercials. Price isn't the focus, just having a good time. Target ads focus on knowing their customers better because they do. With their target credit card, they know what you're buying, so they track your spending. They don't have to guess the income and demographics about you; they already know it.

And then there's Kohl's who appeals to the coupon buyer. They look more like a department store with their displays, along with Bed Bath & Beyond whom offers their shoppers a 20% discount for each item with a coupon. Both are looking for the bargain shopper.

With these business models, a new solopreneur might think that discounts are the way to go. However, these big stores have volume sales going for them compared to the entrepreneur who is cutting into his profits.


Infomercials – oh how I love these guys

Watching an infomercial is a case study in sales performance. The last one I watched was Emeril Lagasse's Power AirFryer360. That puppy does twelve different cooking functions. An on-air bonus is, they also drop one of the five payments to four, but it is still just four payments on the website.

All those jobs are impressive, but the significant part is the bonuses. On the infomercial, these are described as bonuses, while on the website, they're part of the kit.

  • Free shipping
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Crisper tray
  • Pizza rack
  • Rotating rotisserie spit
  • Baking pan
  • Drip pan
  • Recipe book

I love watching these things. They are chock-full of sales ideas. We all know what's happening, but they're appealing to the person who needs to see the product in action. A demonstration is as common as going for a test drive in the brand-new automobile that reeks of a new car smell. You just have to love that.

In summary: Next time a television commercial comes on, stop to see who they are tempting to and how are they going about it. It's a lesson in finding your hungry crowd and giving them what they want. When finding your people, we have to talk their language—the cool kids' secret code.

That's all for now, I'll cover sales offers in the future.

If you're having trouble finding your hungry crowd let's chat. I've been able to blend together different concepts and strategies for great results. It takes someone outside your industry with fresh eyes to see what's missing, how you can appeal to your tribe with just the right options and bonuses but not break the bank.

Let me know what you think, Linda@ShinyObjectMarketing.com

I'm Linda James Bennett; this is day 15 of 365 days of publishing.

Linda James Bennett is obsessed with creating clear brand messages to help business owners win online. She believes that marketing shouldn't be complicated to be great. Let's face it, as a business owner you need to focus on the bottom line that drives sales, not being a copywriter. She is also an author of the book, Becoming A Seriously Happy Special Needs Mom ~ 21 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place, on Amazon.com

Linda James Bennett

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