Making Waves in Radio
1. Start from the listener's
perspective Don't start with the advertiser's name and
product as in "If you're looking for the leader in shag
carpets, look for Sir Shags-a-Lot." This might work if huge
numbers of people suddenly got the urge for shag carpet on this
particular day. But if we want to build a longer-term connection
to the advertiser, we need to start with what interests the
listener. What are they really looking for - aesthetics?
Prestige? Comfort? Remember, people aren't buying products,
they're buying solutions.
2. Stick to one chief point A radio spot isn't a print
ad. You can't segment it into a bunch of vaguely related offers.
You will whipsaw your listener back and forth until they can't
remember anything. You can't start with the shag rug speech and
then suddenly switch to window blinds. If you want to talk about
blinds. create another spot and rotate it into your schedule.
3. Don't try to cram in too much copy Don't try to
squeeze so much copy into 60 seconds that both the announcer and
the listener are gasping for breath. Ideas need to breathe, too.
So much so that you may even consider providing a few places for
the announcer to pause and say (gasp!) nothing. This serves as a
kind of subhead to point number one, the listener's perspective.
4. Communicate benefits, rather than features Make the
features relevant by solidly linking them to benefits. Almost
any benefit hill beat almost any feature. Because benefits, not
features, are what people are really buying.
5. Show, rather than tell This pointer applies especially
to the areas of "quality," "value,"
"trust" and other abstract concepts. Your listeners
want proof, not promises. What will the product do? How long
will it last; What makes it better: In short, the attributes of
a product are not defined by adjectives, but by performance.
6. Write simply, clearly, briefly Since your audience
isn't going to read what you write, you have to make sure your
copy sounds good. That means short sentences. Few adjectives and
adverbs. Powerful picture words. Dynamic action words. A good
radio spot is like a good conversation. And isn't a conversation
exactly what you'd like to have with your prospect?
7. Don't shout Never mind what car dealers and appliance
retailers do. Don't shout. People don't like it. In fact. Ave
suspect that if we all made a habit of shouting at car dealers,
they might finally get the message. And never mind if some car
dealer says shouting works. It's probably in spite of the
shouting that he sells cars.
8. Make it clear who the advertiser is After you've
established that you understand what your prospect needs, make
sure the listener knows the name of the company who's
responsible for providing the answer. How often to include the
advertiser's name: We think the sane approach is: whenever it's
appropriate and unforced as a natural expression of the ad's
9. Be helpful Ask yourself as you write, "Is this
helping the listener to get the message? Make sure that in your
cleverness you don't forget to organize your copy to get the
listener safely through the message so they can take appropriate
10. Make a call to action Don't forget to give your
listener a course of action. It could be to phone, to stop by or
simply to remember you if they're not currently in the market.
Former Detroiter Jim Conlon is co-owner of Radio Works in
Houston and co-author of "Radio Advertising 101.5, A
Step-By-Step Guide To Creating Better Radio Advertising."
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detroit radio advertising group // all rights reserved