How would you like to sound?

The other day I saw a needs analysis sheet. It had many good things about it. A needs analysis sheet will help the Sales Executive from a radio station get a really good picture of your business. It will help them to discover whether you can effectively use the station, and is usually updated every couple of years, or when the Exec who deals with your account at the radio station changes for one reason or another.

But there was one question on the questionnaire that made my teeth stand on end. It was this question…

What style of radio commercial would best depict your business?

a. Comedy
b. Straight read
c. Highly creative
d. Lots of sound effect
e. Slice-of-life
f. Other

Let me start with the question itself. Of course I want to know how you would like your business to be depicted. But that would not be best found out by asking what KIND of commercial you want. I’m better off finding out about your brand and passing that information on. And frankly clients quite often are not best placed to choose a style. But I do want to know how you feel your company should be portrayed. Some Needs Analysis forms ask… If your company was a celebrity or person from history, who would it be? That gives me a much better feel for your business.

Now the choices! Imagine going to see a doctor and as soon as you sit down he says… “What would you like? An operation, a course of anti biotics, or a couple of pain killers” Before we decide on the style of your commercial we need to take a simple brief. We need to find out your symptoms before we discuss possible solutions. And as a client I’m pretty sure you’re not really worried about “lots of sound effects”… what you want is a commercial that works for you. “Slice of Life?” What does that mean to you?. What does “Highly Creative” mean to you? Probably something completely different to your partner. (Creativity is about answering the brief and making a compelling message)

Would you buy insurance from this man?


Quite often I see on a brief form “The client wants a funny commercial.” You would think that it would give the writer a chance to show off how clever or funny they can be. But it has the opposite effect and closes the writer down. If I have a decent brief I can write a whole range of different style commercials. Some may be funny, but the humor has to spring out of the brief. It’s easy to write a “joke” into a commercial. People will laugh at the joke but wont remember the product or service, unless it springs from that brief.

So let your writer come up with some different styles of commercial. Allow them the freedom to be creative by giving them a clear, short, and too the point commercial. Leave out irrelevant details and think…

What do I want the listener to do when they’ve heard the ad?
Why should they? (Give me a great reason!)
Who is the target market?

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