Television can be the centerpiece of your lead generation effort, or it can be an expensive disappointment. It acts as the former for Unique Window & Door, in Indianapolis. The company spends 40% of its annual marketing budget buying air time, some $60,000 a month, 50 weeks a year, says Bob Dillon, president and owner. Television advertising generates close to 50% of sales, he adds.

Goodbye Telemarketing But it wasn't always that way. Dillon began using TV only two and a half years ago, having moved away from heavy reliance on telemarketing. “We did a lot of experimentation,” he says.

There are some elements of TV advertising that are generic — likely to work in almost any market — while others are market specific, discovered only by trial and error, he explains.

Dillon is very clear on at least some of the elements of successful TV advertising.

  • Sixty-second spots work better than 30-second spots.
  • Focus on hard leads. “You want to judge your commercials only on direct leads that call immediately. Absolutely, 100% of the time.”
  • You need multiple, strong “hooks” and special offers in every commercial to make the phone ring.
  • Cable TV is, in Dillon's opinion, a waste of money.
  • Local news programs work well.
  • They're your best chance to get most of the audience in a media world offering scores of choices.
  • Daytime talk shows such as Dr. Phil and Judge Judy also work well.
  • Avoid local ad agencies who think in terms of branding, Dillon advises. You likely can't afford it. “Most companies in this business will never be Pepsi or Coke.”

    Use a Specialist Dillon says his TV success got rolling when he stopped allowing local stations to produce his commercials and turned to an advertising and production company with plenty of specialized experience. Dillon allows the company, Ron Sherman Advertising and Teleproduction, Little Rock, Ark., to buy and collect commissions on his TV time. In turn, Sherman produces the Unique Window commercials at minimal or no cost, Dillon explains. Ron Sherman Advertising and Teleproduction specializes in producing TV spots and infomercials for home improvement companies.