By Trent Rentsch
Why do you get out of bed in the morning, really? Other than the knee-jerk, smart ass answers like “to smash my alarm clock across the room,” or, “to avoid a beating from my spouse.” Why do you get out of bed in the morning? You need to use the bathroom? You’re hungry... or your pets are? You have to go to work... ahh... now, we’re getting somewhere! So, why do you go to work? To get a paycheck... to make money? Why do you need to make money? To pay bills, to keep the water running in the bathroom, and cereal & Little Friskees in the cupboard? But... why? Why? WHY??
These aren’t just the questions of your average inquisitive 2 year old. If you’re writing and producing commercials, these are questions of motivation that you need to ask before you start every new project. Without compelling motivation, why should the listener act on the information in the spot? The answer is, they shouldn’t.
Enough “Whys,” let’s move onto “What.” As in, “What’s my motivation?” Big question, many answers... or are there? No matter who your listener is, no matter what business your commercial advertises, the most compelling, most effective motivations come from 3 basic categories; Home, Heart and Health. But, when and where do you use them? Good questions. Let’s look at some answers.
Home. It may bring many things to mind, but in the case of motivation, we’re talking about “Your Stuff.” The interior and exterior of the place you live, and all the systems which run within in it (electricity, plumbing, heating, cooling, telephone, media input, etc.). All the items inside (furniture, appliances, electronics, food, drink, gaming systems, computers, on and on). Your yard, including the plants and assorted landscaping, and the equipment you use to maintain it. Home in regards to motivation also means your transportation, the maintenance of it and the fuel that makes it run. In a way, even your finances can be considered part of your Home. A service or product which can make the Home bigger, better, more comfortable is a common motivator for all consumers.
Heart. Everyone and everything you love. There will be overlap with items included in Home (as there will be with Health; all three have similarities). Your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your lovers, your pets. Heart can also be your house, your car, your hobbies, your money. If a business is vital to one’s passions, it can motivate “by Heart.”
Health. The physical and mental, of you and yours (including people, pets and possibly places). Doctors of all types, even animal and “lawn doctors,” drug stores, fitness clubs, sporting good stores, even vitamin shops and spas contribute to your listener’s Health, and should motivate by reminding them of that.
So, to make a spot motivating and effective with the “3 H’s,” all you have to do is say something like, “Dr. R. Glover will make you healthy,” or, “Fill your heart with love, buy a cat from XYZ Pet Shop,” right? If only it were that easy. Just because you’re focusing on Home, Heart, and/or Health doesn’t mean the motivator is powerful enough to break through and speak to the listener who is bombarded by a gazillion “important messages” every day.
Home, Heart and Health are only the paints; how you apply them to the canvas makes the difference in motivation. And the inspiration for the picture you paint can come from your own Home, Heart or Health. Perhaps you’re working on a commercial for an Auto Repair Shop and want to use fast towing and repair as a motivator. You could say “fast towing and repair,” or you could create a scenario from your own experiences: car broken down and stranded on the side of road, waiting for help while traffic slows and backs up behind you... getting more and more frustrated! “Should’ve called Quickee Towing and Repair...” yada, yada. Here’s another: a spot for a doctor’s office that offers complete services, including lab work. In itself that’s a good motivator, but setting the scene with the times you’ve had to run from one place to another to see your doctor, then get your x-rays, then your blood work... and THEN, the frustration and mental unease of waiting for results when you are worried about why you’re sick. Suddenly, a “one stop doc shop” becomes a GREAT motivator! Not all motivators have to be negative; why not set up a scene based on your first date with the special person in your life as a way to motivate listeners to enjoy a romantic evening at an intimate restaurant, or maybe the scene is playful interaction with your dog as a motivator to “keep them healthy” by taking them to your vet client.
I’ve harped on “keeping it real” here before. Talking cars might be funny and ear-catching, but yelling AT your car while stranded in traffic can be just as funny and ear-catching, with the advantage of being a situation the listener can relate to... and relate equals motivate. Trick or treating at Dracula’s castle... again, ear-catching and silly. But trick or treating at “that creepy old lady’s house down the street” who turns out to have the best candy is something the listener can really relate to and be motivated by (motivate them to what, you say? Maybe to try that Vietnamese restaurant... the food sounds scary, but what a treat.).
Every client has one or more places in the categories of Home, Heart and Health, but the way they are presented makes the difference between communicating the message and motivating with the message. It’s important to illustrate in the message just how important to your Home, Heart or Health your client is. One last question... if you don’t provide motivating illustrations, who will?