I just want awareness

Aware of it?

The Moon... seen it, not yet done it!

I have never been to the moon.
I am aware of it.
I see it in the sky quite a lot.
If you did a survey I expect many people are aware of the moon.
If you’re done a campaign on radio and you’re objective was awareness… then you would have close to 100% awareness at the end of the campaign. (and at the beginning, but let’s skip over that for now).
Well done.
However most clients don’t want awareness. When you ask them… “how will you measure the success of your campaign?” they usually answer, “By how many products we sell.” Ahhhh! So what you want is RESPONSE!
If you usually get 200 people a week through your showroom door… what you want is is increase that number of people, OR maybe double the ammount of money those 200 people spend. Increased sales is the goal (not even necessarily “footfall”… the same number of people spending a lot more can also be a good result!!).

As I’ve said before… “Branding happens” (Martin Healy). Let you commercials raise awareness, they will do that, but make sure they get a good response by giving an irresistable, compelling, unambiguous reason to come and buy from you.

If you want me to fly to the moon, with my fear of heights, you’d have to to give me a very very very good reason (and a few million quid!)

By the way… click the image above for evidence that NASA actually FAKED the moon landings. 😉

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Salesman Balls pt 5

“Radio City’s first broadcast wasn’t 5.58 – it was two minutes to six..”

“We’re going to have to get some structure to these sales meetings – everybody keeps going off on a tandem”

“Have you got the sound effect of a mongoose in flight?”

“The frequency should help reverbitate the success of the campaign..”

“You’re the kind of guy who goes to the bank for fifty quid and asks for it in eights”

“Yes, you find that with blind people when their sight goes, another one of their senses
– like their vision – improves to compensate”

“Jack is another name for Bobby”

“I’ve got two words to say to you – Lancaster University Management School”

“If that isn’t the ket calling the pottle black”

(after being told that Sherlock Holmes couldn’t be used in a radio ad because of copyright)
– “Well, couldn’t you just spell it H-0-M-E-S?”

“You cease to amaze me sometimes”

“He was hanging on for grim death”

“Hard singers are good to find”

“People round here just take me for the piss.”

“Everybody was buying us free drinks!”

“That film with Eddy Murphy – Beverly Hops Kill”

“I’ll see that when I believe it.”

“At the end of the day, I’ve only got two pairs of hands..”

Two pairs of hands

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Salesman Balls Pt 4

“That will really increase your standoutability”

“How long will it take to get to Southport from here? (“about half an hour”)
– “How long will it take to get back?”

“Anybody tell me who’s on the back of a twenty pound note?”
– “Washington!”

“We’re just a small fish in a big cog.”

“Some people have similarized Sun City to Virgin, actually”

“But it’s out of kilt with what we’re trying to do…”

“We’ll want some stand-outness”

“Alcazar have just gone bust. Hugh and Peter are going to open separately..
– What, together?
– No, separately..”

“This is really a spring-box for other things”

“You two would die for GNR, which is exactly what we want you to do..”

“It stuck out like a sore balloon”

“Kids get in free for a pound”

“He’s paying the same amount … only less.”

(exec on hearing that a ‘Blues’ version of her client’s jingle had been recorded);
– “Couldn’t we do a’Reds’version as well? … after all, he does sell

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Salesman Balls pt 3

“Do you have the power to make that decision on your own solusly?”

“They’re a Scottish company – based in Scotland”

“They never know if they’ve heard it audiotorially”

“It’s like an Aladdin’s cabinet in here”

“Ooops.. that was a bit of a fraudulent slip”

“You know, maybe we should just do that K.I.S.S. thing – Keep it Stupid, Simple”.

“It has a double-barrelled meaning”

“I started off as a telly ad.”

“They’re going to have the flag all around the peripheral”

“She hasn’t got a very good ease of explaining things”

“We should use the special offer as a lost leader”

“If that happens, local rates will go up through the window”

“She could sell snow to the Arabs”

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Salesman Balls Pt 2

“As you can see on the audience chart, we’re a lot higher up the pie”

“I wish I could look into my golden ball and tell you it was going to work”

“It’s a misnomer to say more people listen at the end of the week”

“So you can see, we’re all men to all seasons”

“Can you just go and ask lan for some ballpoint figures?”

“If you stopped ten people in the street and asked them if they’d heard of Keith Pattinson, nine and a half of them would say yes.”

“Course you did, man. You wrote it down verbally”

“Is Dave in? (no.) Is he out?”

“They’re all coming in in their full entirety”

“That should throw a spanner amongst the pigeons”

“Can we use the Northumbria Police name, as it would give the ad an immediate stamp of credulity?”

“We mustn’t forget the vagrancies of the market”

“He’s at his desk, but he’s not there”

“I think we may be in danger of milking the golden goose.”

“They’re ‘ust dipping their tongue in the water”

“I can see right up your niche”

“We need to go over everything with a fine toothbrush.”

“Not wishing to shout my own trumpet…”

“It’s not like television – we can’t just add another page”

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Salesman Balls Pt 1

Have you ever been in a meeting where, due to the pressure of the call, the Sales Exec has said something that’s had you bite through your pencil trying not to laugh? Here are some examples of genuine things Sales Execs have said in meetings, or to creatives …. mostly in the UK but some from Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to Paul Borny for reminding me of them… and keeping the file… and to Tim Craig who collected many of them… and to the salespeople I love working with but sometimes trip over their vocabulary.

“So you want to be on air on the 25th, which is arguably next Saturday”

“He’s not very good at articulacy”

“I guess we’ll just have to have the conclusion at the end then”

“Let’s arrange to meet at a convenial time”

“Don’t fax the original.. you may need that – send a photocopy”

“Have I rung YOUR number?”

“We must use everything at our disposable”

“So you see.. it’s more people than watch magazines… sorry, read the television”

“I’ve had numerable clients who have been happy with campaigns like this one”

“Over four weeks, the campaign will have a conglomerative effect”

“The problem is very much a double-edged cleft”

“We now use a sophisticated research mythology”

“The audience per capita head now stands at 621,000”

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Trip to Sierra Leone

Last week I had the pleasure and honour of spending time with a group of radio people in Sierra Leone. I learned a great deal from spending time with them and chatting over curried fish, tasty rice dishes and fried plantain.

People like to think their situations are different to everyone else, but advertising principles stay the same. Generally clients are not INTERESTED in your radio station, and they are certainly not interested in SPENDING THEIR HARD EARNED CASH on your station. What they ARE interested in is investing money to solve their business problems.

That’s how good sales people become successful. By concentrating on helping the client you become a valued marketing partner… not just someone there to sell spot ads. I was once told by a colleague that this approach to selling radio was “old fashioned”. True it’s not a new theory. But it’s still highly effective for those who practice it. Yet still, very few stations actually practice it! Most radio stations and groups try to convince clients to advertise through unfathomable figures that clients often can’t get their heads around.

Many of the Sierra Leonese delegates were complaining that no one wanted to advertise on their stations. That many clients were unconcerned about holding a market position and selling goods, because good were in such short supply that stores sold out of commodities very quickly. Well, there are lots more reasons to advertise… and I don’t think anyone WANTS to spend money on advertising. But Sierra Leone is developing an economy. The successful businesses then will be the ones who already own their unfair share of mind. The sharp and sensible business people know they need to. Advertising is like breathing for a business. It’s when you STOP doing it that you really notice a difference.

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The Team in Freetown, Sierra Leone

So you want to be a Voice Over?

The way I was trained to present radio commercials to clients was to voice them down the phone…. Or in a meeting face to face. I normally tell them, “Look, I’ve not a voice over artist, we will use a professional, this is just to give you an idea of how it will sound. This particular client was down the phone. It was a Tommy Vance style read. I had the particular VO (Voice Over) in mind and he would do an amazing job. After presenting the client said “I want YOU to voice my ad.” I spluttered, excused myself, told him about the voice I wanted to do the ad… but still he insisted. I still have copies of the two ads I voiced and it reminds me of the nightmare.

Many people think it’s easy. You just speak into the microphone…. Surely!?

The reason I was so reluctant to voice the ad is that I know how amazingly talented the VOs are. It’s not JUST about having a great voice. This is from MY point of view as a writer and producer, not as a VO, maybe some VO readers of this can add their advice. To be a great and well used voice over you have to demonstrate the following qualities.

Be able to read

You need to be able to take in the words from the page and interpret them quickly in your mind. You need to be able to understand and believe what you’re saying. And you need to make it sound like it’s not being read, especially if you are the character voice in a script. Read the script and comprehend what you will be saying.

Be able to read out loud.

You need to project without it sounding like an effort. It needs to sound clear and crisp. But It’s not stage acting. It’s closer and more intimate. Some famous stage actors make terrible voice overs or radio actors because they try to project to the back of the theatre. Radio is a different voice skill. Especially for announcer reads, every word must be clear… especially the client’s name.

Be versatile.

One day you may be a talking eyeball, the next moment a child’s voice, the very next script you will be the voice of the company in your suit and tie (not actually in a suit and tie, but you know what I mean). For this you need acting skills and versatility. I remember a VO friend of mine doing an agency session in London was asked if he could do a ladies voice. He gave his best Mrs Doubtfire effort. The sushi ordering, pims pickled agency director said “I’m sorry, you sound like a man, trying to sound like a woman.” He replied… “But I AM a man, trying to sound like a woman.” Lesson to agency, if you want a woman voice over, book one!

Be able to interpret a script.

The first read give your script the life you think it should have after being briefed by the producer or writer. If they want changes they will tell you!

Be able to take directions

I may want a word said differently, or emphasis on a sentence, or the client’s name given more prominence. You need to be able to remember these changes for your next take on the script. (you can make notes or marks on your copy of the script)

Be able to deliver take after take

In a session at a radio station in Leeds where I used to work the poor voice did 32 takes of a script. The agency producer gave very little direction so the VO was not clear on what he needed to do different or better. The VO kept delivering, time after time. It was like seeing a marathon runner going through the pain barrier and keeping going. Then the agency producer said… “That’s fine… I think we’ll go with the second take…” which leads on to my next point..

Have the patience of a saint.

The VO smiled, put the script down and went home to prepare his invoice. Years later he can laugh about it. (but not at the time). Giving your best and getting messed around is parr for the course. You will suffer endless retakes, re reads… and the other pain in the neck… clients that take months to pay you. Be prepared for it and try to keep a smile on your face. I know of a voice over artist who doesn’t get work from a company I used to work for. Not because he’s not talented, but because he is a constant complainer… and the poor producers have no control over what he’s complaining about. They would rather work with friendly people!

Be helpful but not pedantic

Not all writers are as good at English as what I am. We all make spelling mistakes. We all become word blind on scripts. Sometimes these errors are picked up by the VO. That’s great, if you point them out we can correct. But there are small things which don’t need pointing out. Just grin and bear. (I hate the misuse of their, there and they’re… as a manager I will point it out to staff who misuse, but if I have to voice something I will just make my own correction and carry on). And remember that scripts are for the spoken word, not always for correct grammar.

If you still want to be a VO, remember that like being a musician you CAN make a living from it, but only a handful make a good living out of it. With modern technology it’s becoming very competitive. If you want to have a try contact your local station and ask them if they do Voice tests. You can also find some good Voice Over classes around, from some of the world’s top VO Artists like Peter Dickson and Emma Clarke. Keep an eye out for details!
Happy Voicing!

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