How to improve your commercials now that your audience has control

I wrote recently about the change in how we perceive commercials today. The proliferation of channels and choices has trained our audience to believe they have control. And they do. Any interruption (i.e. your commercial) while they watch or listen to media can feel more intrusive today than ever before. And cause them to switch channels or turn their attention from one screen (the TV) to another (their tablet or smartphone).

It is difficult to get them to invest their time in this attention-deficit world (remember, you are asking them to "pay" attention.) But it's not impossible. Just remember, no one is sitting and waiting so they can give their undivided attention to your commercial. They are distracted. So you better be engaging. That means understanding how to use the mediums.


TV allows you to use words, pictures, motion, and music. This gives it the potential to deliver big emotional impact. So don't pack it with features and details. Use it to trigger your audience's emotions. Tell a story. Make them laugh, make them cry, give them chills, and more. Once you make an emotional connection, send them to a vanity URL. A great landing page is a much better place for them to link to details and explore your offering.


Radio's power lies in tapping into the theater of the mind. There is nothing quite as potent as your audience's imagination. Triggering their imagination is a powerful way to win mindshare. Nothing does this like radio. Radio paints pictures by telling stories with voices, sound effects, music, and more. Use it to do just that. Only include features and details if they weave naturally into the story. In most cases, direct your listeners to a web presence to get the details.

It can seem like an overwhelming task to win attention in today's world. There is a secret weapon. Creativity. A well-conceived, well-written, and well produced spot will stand out, break through, and stick in their heads. And then leak out into their social media posts.

Use the power of the mediums. Or hire a creative professional who has the know how. And don't force them to put a bunch of crap in the spot.

Your audience is in control. Recognize that by giving them something extraordinary to watch or listen to. Do that and they'll reward you with their attention.