Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: advertising

Don’t kill your radio campaign with “what the client wants”

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.”

“Brown 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:  johnnymaraca@rogers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radio ads: Why they didn’t work for you (and what you can do about it)

Radio advertising works, when you do it right! So what went wrong and why didn’t you get the desired results?

It seems easy. The marketing rep convinces you to try radio because you’ll be reaching thousands of potential customers, and once those people hear YOUR message…get ready for a business boost!

Or not.

Why didn’t it work? You wonder if the station scheduled your ads in lousy time slots. Maybe they didn’t run them at all! Relax. They did. The problem, more often than not, is a poorly-crafted message, so read on for a list of campaign killers.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT YOU!

You put your print ad or flyer on the radio and the script you approved was heavy on information and light on persuasion. Your name, location, hours, website, “Like us on Facebook” and (no, no, no!!!) your phone number.

Which opening line do you find more appealing?

A) “It’s the Spring Fling event at Susie’s Weight Loss Centre.”

And I should care because?????

B) “You can lose 20 pounds by Christmas.” (Followed by introducing Susie, how she can make that happen and why you should give her business a try).

Way better! Address a problem and solve it.

YOU’RE OPENING LINE DIDN’T GRAB THE LISTENER

Further to my point above, as the great radio advertising guru Dan O’Day says, the opening line is the commercial for the commercial.

“Hi, it’s Steve Jones from Wasaga Beach Toyota.”

So?

Listeners have much stronger bullshit detectors these days. It’s not the ’70s anymore with a limited choice of radio and TV stations. We all know Steve is going to spend the next 25 seconds bragging about his dealership and the best selection, best prices of the year, the lowest finance rates…

CHECK OUT SOME OF MY SCRIPTS HERE: JOHNNY’S MEDIA PORTFOLIO

Steve will hit us with the usual cliches and “ad speak.” We expect those and have no interest in the rest of ad.

I’ve long had a theory that car dealers don’t speak to the radio audience, they advertise to each other. The guy down the street has the best (see list above)? We’ve got the best and if we yell like a Monster Truck ad, the customers will choose us!

GARY WAS LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS, DON’T BE LIKE GARY

Listen to this ’90s gem from the suburbs of Philly. Prepare to be amazed.

Told ya!

What a gloriously awful mix of hard sell and hype! Yes, that was real and from what I can gather, Gary Barbera’s #1 Dodgeland frequently tortured folks in beautiful Roxborough with messages like that. Oh, and they were charged with upping the monthly payments without telling those customers who had bad credit, went through a divorce or whatever else that didn’t matter at that crazy car dealership.

Those in Radioland don’t enjoy being yelled at in the raunchy, over-the-top manner of Dodgeland. They tune out because they’re waiting for the next song, or the weather forecast.

YOU HAD A REP THAT LEFT THE CONTENT UP TO YOU

I’ve been in radio nearly 30 years and witnessed this routine many times. Rep makes the sale. Books it, schedules the spots. As for the copy?

“What do you want to say in your ad?”

Or…

“Here’s the email of our writer, send him some copy points.”

You don’t have time to come up with ideas so you recycle the same crap advertisers have used for decades. Maybe you suggest an opening line.

“How about, The leaves are falling and so are the prices at…”

Yikes.

Before we continue, how about some advertising fun from George Carlin?

 

It’s not your fault. Think about what sets your business apart. Tell the rep or writer what customers like about your business or services. Share your success stories.

You’re not selling flooring. You’re giving customers a more beautiful living room and allowing them to take greater pride in their home. Or increasing the resale value. Play that up!

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Talk directly to the listener. As Dan O’Day says, enter a conversation they’re already having. Heating bill too high? They need a more energy-efficient furnace.
  2. Spark their imagination. Radio is, after all, theatre of the mind. Roy Williams, The Wizard of Ads, has made clients (and himself) rich by painting pictures with his words. Sound effects, music and production tricks are fine but what you say, and how you say it, will make the difference.
  3. Avoid filling your spots with Yellow Pages info or social media links. No one is going to “Like” you on Facebook until they’ve had a good experience with your products and services.

The fact is, the creative departments at many radio stations are staffed with non writers. People who graduated from broadcasting programs to become radio personalities or producers. Sure, copywriting was likely part of their training but it wasn’t why they chose radio as a career.

They took a job in creative as an entry point in the business. Or the company went through the dreaded “restructuring” process and jobs were combined. Copywriting became an extra chore for that aspiring morning show host.

I am a writer. I don’t retype copy info, I analyze it. What would I, as the consumer, find appealing?

It sure isn’t their claim of being “conveniently located.” Again, what the heck does that mean? What if I’m at the other end of town, or in another town?

THE BEST RADIO ADS ARE ABOUT THE LISTENER AND WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM.

I’ve been to many seminars, including those of Dan O’Day and Roy Williams, and the result is a combination of my unique style with O’Day’s “make the cash register ring” philosophy and the imaginative, storytelling approach of The Wizard of Ads.

I can help your business, or become a freelance addition to your creative team. Feel free to send me an email: johnnymaraca@rogers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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