I started my radio copywriting career in 1989 and once overheard two reps talking about “What the client wants.”
“I don’t care if all he does for 30 seconds is say his name over and over,” the sales rep said, “as long as he pays his bill.”
As a business person you may be thinking, “I knew it! They just wanted my money and didn’t care about getting more customers through my door. Son of a…”
THAT WAS THEN
Granted, the mainstream advertising world was different back then. No internet competition, no Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, streaming services or satellite radio. You had two main options: radio and newspaper.
Your competitor was on the local station so you felt the need to combat him or her and, even if you weren’t convinced radio worked (it does if you do it right), you gave it a shot.
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If your campaign failed, there’s a good chance the rep and creative team did want you requested and, unless you had writing experience, that resulted in spots that were ignored by the listeners.
Suppose you dined at high-end steakhouse and asked the server to have the chef pour chocolate sauce on your strip loin, just before serving it. I know, crazy.
But it’s “what the customer wants!”
THE FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
And that, sadly, is why so many radio ads are all about the client and don’t get the job done. The rep asked for your input and you struggled to come up with copy points.
“Um…we’ve been in business 20 years…friendly, personalized service…we’re open 7 days a week…”
“Great,” said the rep. “I’ll give this to our writer.”
“Oh, can I add our website, follow us on Facebook…and our phone number.”
Yikes, the friggin’ phone number. Unless the last four digits are 50-50, or super easy to remember like…
feel free to sing it, longtime Toronto radio fans…967-11-11, phone Pizza Pizza, hey hey hey…
NEVER INCLUDE YOUR PHONE NUMBER IN A RADIO AD.
It’s 7 seconds out of 30 that should be used instead for persuasion, with a well-crafted script that intrigues, entices and explains the benefits of your products and services.
“What if I repeat the number? They do it on Howard Stern’s show.”
Then you’ve wasted 14 seconds. And you’re not selling boner pills or paying for 60 second ads that play after High-pitch Erik, Tan Mom or Sour Shoes.
Nobody is sitting by the radio with a pen & paper in hand, just in case there’s a deal so amazing they just have to call right now. Chances are they’re checking Facebook or feeding the cat.
Or driving. We want their eyes on the road!
Most people have the ultimate phone book at their fingertips. It’s called Google. Anyone without access to Google is likely in a nursing home, or still uses the actual phone book.
Suppose you sell flooring. Why would anyone need to call you if they’ve never set foot in your store?
“Hello, Jiffy Flooring.”
“Hi, do you sell carpet?”
“Yes we do.”
“Great, I’ll be right over!”
“WELL, I’M NOT A WRITER”
So, the lesson is, don’t let the radio station put you on the spot by asking for ideas. You’re not the writer. Explain the benefits of what you sell, why it’s the best choice (other than cliches about the lowest prices and biggest selection) and what customers like about you.
A decent rep will draw that out of you.
A good writer will suggest ways to reshape what you’ve provided and ask followup questions. He or she will translate tech talk into relatable info and trim the fat.
“It’s winter and…this Christmas (really, not next Christmas?)…spring is just around the corner and…”
BACK TO THAT ORIGINAL “I JUST WANT THE COMMISSION” REP
Sure, you can have the announcer say your name over and over to fill 30 seconds because it…
Gets your name out there!
It’s not enough to just get your name out there.
As Dan O’Day said in a seminar I attended several years ago, when this not-so-well regarded man was still alive, Osama Bin Laden’s name is “out there.”
Maraca Media can create scripts for your business or station. Get started by emailing John: firstname.lastname@example.org