How To Make A Commercial: Intro & Pre-Production

How To Make A Commercial

Intro & Pre-Production  

“How to make a commercial?” It’s a bit of a loaded question, and one that has plenty of answers. Depending on your industry, your brand, and your audience, there can be all kinds of different commercial production processes you pursue. So for the sake of being helpful (and practical), we’ll keep the answers general so that you can apply it best to your unique situation.

The Three Stages of Video Commercial Production

There are three main parts to producing anything, but we think they’re particularly prolific to the video industry. You’re probably at least familiar with their names: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production. This is planning everything, filming everything, and editing everything, respectively.


When we say planning everything, we mean everything, and doing it all secure in the knowledge that something will eventually go wrong. It always does, so Pre-Production also includes being prepared.

Here are few of the main pillars of Pre-Production:

Deciding On Video Messaging

Let’s start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start. You know how the song goes. Before you begin writing scripts and renting cameras, address the issue of messaging. That means answering the following questions with a certain degree of specificity:

What are you going to say?  

Who are you talking to?

Who is your audience?

What do they need to know?

Messaging is also dependent on the CTA (call to action) that defines the purpose of your commercial. Whether it’s about a product your selling or a goal your striving after, you want to get the audience on the same page as you, plus give them a clear path forward. This means knocking down potential barriers (like “no money down” or “0% interest”) as well showing the next step (“call now” or “donate here”).

Video Uses

It’s also important to know how you plan to use the commercial; what platforms will it be on? TV ads take a different consideration that web-only ads, or even a video for an email campaign. Formatting, file type, length, and distribution costs all factor in and need to be made clear to the people making a commercial on the front end.

If you find yourself unable to fill in all these blanks, then unfortunately you’re not ready to start production on a commercial. There’s still a lot of marketing research to do. For help with that, check out our Creative Brief and our A.G.E. document.


A good script explores narrative and direction. What happens in your commercial? What’s the story, the central tension? What words will be said, if any at all? This is where those messaging elements from earlier come in really handy.    


Make the trains run on time! Yes, something will inevitably go wrong, but that’s part of scheduling, too. Leave yourself a little breathing room. Have a shot list with time goals, e.g., by 1:00 pm shots #1 and #2 should be done and people should be striking for shot #3 after a half hour break for lunch. That kind of thing. Knock on wood, a clear schedule provides project-saving structure.  

That’s all for Pre-Production. If you found it helpful and want to know what happens next, check out the rest of this series!



If you’re looking for more resources as you branch out into video marketing, be sure to check out our Research Page for our yearly guides, our Podcast Page for weekly news, and our Vlogs for more topical videos.

Hunter Smith