Spare us the horror

We’ve all seen them. They sneak up on you and clobber you over the head like a monkey with a 2×4. No, I’m not talking about the sketchy used car salesman (or maybe I am). I’m talking about bad commercial ads. They come on the TV or Youtube or your phone and all you want to do is find the person responsible for making said ad and strangle them until they agree to never do another one… No? Just me? That’s fair.

At the very least, you skip the ad as soon as the option is available and you vow never to do business with them because, if they are half as annoying in real life as they are in their commercial, you just don’t have the energy for it. 

What’s worse? It’s the ad for your business! (queue the screams of horror)

“But you said it wasn’t my fault!!!”

You’re right. I did say that and I meant it. 

Let’s look at a few examples of what makes a terrible ad and, if you’re nice, I’ll tell you what makes a good one later.

Bad Ads

The Yelling Guy

You read that heading and immediately thought of the yelling guy in your market. Maybe you’re unfortunate enough to have a few of them. 

My mind immediately goes to the car dealerships. Most of the time, the commercials are shot outside in front of a row of cars and they’re yelling into the camera just to be louder than nearby traffic.

Other times, they’re just yelling at the camera because someone told them to have a little more charisma and, not being real directors, they landed on yelling.

Either way, unless you’re going for being intentionally ridiculous, this never works.

The Ads That Think They’re Funny

These commercials, in particular, really get under my skin.

It’s no secret that humor sells, but it has to be executed well.

If you’ve ever spent time around a child who is learning to tell jokes, then you know the feeling of them telling you a joke that they made up that makes no sense, or they tell you a joke they heard and they mess up the punchline or build-up and it completely misses.

As life goes, some of these children grow up but never grow out of this phase and they start making videos. Either there’s no comedic timing, the joke doesn’t make sense, or it’s an inside joke that no one outside of your business is familiar with and it just leaves potential customers scratching their heads trying to figure out what they just watched.

Either way, instead of an effective marketing strategy, you end up with a Hindenburg Disaster and your marketing money just goes up in flames (see what I did there?).

The Oversharing Ad

This one is very commonplace and you know within about .023 seconds that it’s a local commercial.

Let’s say it’s a candy store and the ad is just a series of random items in the store with some voice over going on about Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. 

In the worst case, there’s about 40 shots crammed into a 30-second ad (we literally saw an add years ago with 30 shots in a 15-second commercial) and everything is happening so fast that the viewer can’t digest (pun intended) what they’re seeing, much less be enticed by this advertisement. 

Some other versions of this include sharing information that isn’t a selling point.
Let’s pretend for a second that you have a food delivery service and your advertisement includes that your drivers’ uniforms are made out of cotton and they all drive Ford Escapes.

Who cares? People only care that their food arrives quick and that it’s hot (or cold). So, why even mention the uniforms and the vehicle models?

It’s Not Your Fault

Okay, so, maybe it is a little bit your fault, but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt.

Most business owners have never written a commercial and the only experience they have is what they’ve seen on TV. When they start writing an ad, the only thing they can think of is the kind of ad that they’ve made fun of because we automatically think of the thing we don’t want to make. Something is different here, though. Since it’s their idea, suddenly, it’s not a bad one (spoiler alert, it’s still a bad one).

Alternately, you have a “marketing agency” or a television station, and you trust them to know what you need, and they give you the same thing they give everyone else.

The sad fact is that most of them don’t know how to make an ad that sells either. But, you trust them to do the job you hired them to do and it’s a flop.

What can you do?

Think outside of Your Business

Many moons ago, I was in retail sales (it wasn’t my thing) but, I was told to read the Little Red Book of Selling and the one thing I really remember from it was the example of “if you’re selling a drill bit, don’t sell the bit, sell the hole it makes.”

If you’re selling a service, don’t sell the service. Identify the problems that the service solves and sell the ease of use, convenience, or results someone can expect from using your service. 

Your potential customers don’t care how you get the result when they are first introduced to it. If they want more information, that’s why you have a phone, a website, and social media pages.

There are many things that you consider important that a customer won’t care about until they get closer to making a purchase.

Steal Ideas

Okay, don’t really steal ideas. That’s terrible advice, but what you can do is look for inspiration in other ad campaigns. 

Now, before I go any further, please hear me: when you’re researching ideas, LOOK FOR THEM OUTSIDE YOUR MARKET. You don’t want to be seen as ripping off someone else’s idea within your service area. They certainly won’t appreciate it and your potential customers might question your integrity. 

Having said that, if you see another localized ad that you really like, feel free to reverse-engineer the idea and figure out why it was successful and how you can apply those principles to your own idea.

Think Big

One of the most dissatisfying things we hear is, “well I want this kind of ad, but it’s just not possible.”

It is possible. Now, it may not be cheap, but things that weren’t possible 10 years ago can be done by 10-year-olds today (not that I advocate 10-year-olds producing your ads).

Don’t be afraid to have the big ideas. If you don’t know how to make them happen, that’s why you hire the people that do (we highly recommend Hamil Bros Studios).

Also, keep in mind that not every ad has to be a home run. A base hit is just as good. If you’re not a sports person, all I’m saying is that you don’t have to cross the finish line with your ad, just make progress (well, I guess that was still sports-ish, but I digress).

Hire Hamil Bros

Yep. You can hire us. Or, at the very least, find an agency or production company who has a track record of producing the kind of content you want.

If you don’t know what you want, ask to see their portfolio and watch it. If you are impressed with their work, move the conversation forward. If you’re not impressed, LET THEM KNOW that they are not a fit for what you are looking for.
It is time consuming to do work for a potential client to secure their business and it’s nice to know when to stop if it isn’t going to work out.

Ultimately, you need to be able to hire a professional to do what you cannot. But, you need to be able to trust them. If you don’t fully trust them to do their job, then that will lead to many problems down the road. 

Lastly, if you’re not having fun, the road is going to be long and you likely won’t like the result.

The Ultimate Takeaway

If we had one piece of universal advice for creating a video ad, it would be this: JUST GET YOUR CUSTOMER’S ATTENTION.

That’s it. 

You don’t see business cards with the business’ whole operation and business plan on it. Same goes for your commercial. Just give them enough to want to call you, email you, or visit your website. 

Your favorite restaurant doesn’t tell you how they make their steak, they just show you the steak and make your mouth water.

Your favorite car ad doesn’t show you how the lug nuts are manufactured, they show you how fast the car goes or how it’s state-of-the-art features will keep your kids safe in an accident. 

All of that other information will come later when it’s time to seal the deal. 

How it works isn’t important, up front. That it works is very important.


So, what can you do to make sure your next ad is next level?


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