In a 30-second radio commercial, you only have 75 to 85 words to persuade listeners that your store is worth visiting, or merely to plant an idea in their heads for future reference.
Never, ever include what Dan O’Day calls a radio coupon.
“Mention this ad and save 10% off your purchase,” or “Say you heard this message on (radio station) and receive a free gift.”
Ooh. A free gift! Cancel that appointment, you’ve got a store to check out!
During my nearly three decades as a copywriter, I’ve had this horrible script idea sent my way many, many times. I cringed, pleaded and fought against it! No, don’t make me include that line!
Experienced writers and sales reps know why clients do this.
It’s a test.
That car dealer, hardware store owner or salon manager isn’t convinced radio ads work and hey, here’s a great way to see if anyone actually hears mine!
Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, suggests using a loss leader approach and wrote, “Don’t confuse the loss-leader strategy with couponing. Generally, coupons appeal only to the lowest quality of customer. If you’re going to offer a bargain, do it openly. Your best customers–the relational ones–will be offended by the idea that some customers pay a higher price than others.”
Randy “R.J.” Eldred is one of the top selling reps at Bayshore Broadcasting…has been for over 30 years…and R.J. has the ideal response to this all-too-frequent client request.
“Be one of the first 10 customers through the door and get $100 cash!”
The client is stunned. “I can’t do that!”
“Well,” R.J. says, “That’s the only way they’ll mention your ad.”
SO WHY DOES IT NOT WORK?
Customers are afraid they’ll encounter a teenager at the checkout who says, “What ad?”
It makes them feel cheap. It makes your business sound cheap, and desperate.
Consumers are bombarded with sales messages on radio, in print and online. Radio listeners don’t always tune in to the same station every day.
Your ad is an intrusion. They’re waiting for the weather, or the next song. Some fans are extremely loyal but many bounce along the dial from station to station (especially during those long commercial clusters).
Go back 30 years ago, just prior to my first radio job. I heard an ad that mentioned a tuneup special at the local Goodyear service centre.
I called them. Asked if their tuneup deal was still being offered. Sure, they said.
I found out later that the radio commercial had been for the Firestone dealer.
It all worked out, and I ended up writing ads for both businesses.
WHAT MIGHT WORK INSTEAD?
Well, the $100 cash idea would be pretty much guaranteed to get the desired response but you’d go broke.
Does your dog or cat hang out at the store? “Say hi to Rex the bulldog!” If a new customer asks about Rex, bingo!
“Ask Bob about the salmon he caught.”
“Ask Dagny (just met a very charming Dagny so that unusual name is fresh in my head) about her trip to Mexico.”
At least you’ll be suggesting something they can relate to or feel good about, and being a well-liked business goes a long way in getting repeat visits and turning newbies into loyal customers.
THE BEST BET IS…
Forget any kind of “mention” or “ask” elements and focus on what does work. An opening line that intrigues the listener and addresses a problem or concern, followed by who you are, how you can solve their dilemma and why you’re their best option.
That takes repetition. Obviously I hadn’t heard the Firestone message often enough so all I remembered was the special.
Listeners recall bits and pieces and, according to the Wizard of Ads, need to hear a spot at least three times in a week for it to fully form in their minds.
Give your campaign time to do that!
Then, after a year, see if your sales figures went up compared to the previous year. Don’t put your writer or rep to a test that’s guaranteed to fail in the short term.
Mention this blog to a friend and you’ll receive…