Hatred of the Hyphen

I hate the hyphen. Well, I hate it when it comes to websites in radio ads. It seems like advertisers don’t think through when they’re buying their websites how it would be communicated. Try reading out simon-rushton-radio.co.uk/contacts. And that’s a fairly simple one!

Also there’s the companies that like word number puns in their we addresses. Way2getahead.com sounds really snappy… but the listener may get confused. Way to get ahead? Way 2 get ahead? Weight to get ahead? Ok maybe the last one is a bit extreme.

If you do business through your website then there is an answer. Come up with an easy to remember, radio friendly web address for your company. You can buy a web address quite cheaply and then just forward the surfer to your website (avoiding those terrible flash animated landing pages)

Many years ago I had a client who was a pub/restaurant and their web address was something like… the-red-lion-canterbury.co.uk. Terrible! But their offer was a downloadable voucher for a buy one, get one free steak dinner. The solution? For the duration of the campaign they used the address “I want a big fat juicy steak .com” Nice, memorable and related to the offer! Simples!

A Steak Dinner

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Start From The Right Place…

The man stops his car and asks the pedestrian… “can you direct me to the Maternity Hospital”.
The old man scratches his chin and replies… “Mmmm, if I was going to the Hospital I wouldn’t start from here!”

I am sitting at my desk scratching my head. I’ve been given some client written copy which has (surprise surprise) two women talking to each other. One of them has incredible knowledge about the client’s products and services… and… as usual… can reel off the phone number. I would love to meet this lady, she has amazing mental capacity.

I have been asked by my client, a production house, to “tidy up the copy”…. or “make it into a 30”.

The problem is, to get to where the client needs to be with a script, I wouldn’t start here! The device being used is one to shoe horn lots of FEATURES about the client. Frankly the listener doesn’t CARE about all the things the client does… they care about the problems in their lives.

If I have a problem with transport I want to know that I can get a car for just 50 quid a week… i don’t want to know that they also do parts, servicing, MOTs, etc… how does that solve my problem.

Many clients try to say EVERYTHING and the listener hears nothing.

It’s best to keep the brief simple and irresistable. From there, with a good radio creative, you will get great radio ads.

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Have you got an idea for…

I hate being asked “Have you got an idea for (X category Client)?”

I hate it on so many different levels.

First of all… it assumes that ideas are pulled out of nowhere for a particular client. Or that you have a database of script ideas that can be applied. I used to have a client who thought I had a file of scripts that I used for “Motor Dealers” or “Double Glazing”. I do keep all my scripts, and sometime look back at them for inspiration. But it’s very rare. I need to know what I’m trying to achieve before coming up with an idea.

The second reason is, it’s the first stop for a lazy salesperson who doesn’t want to take a brief. Let’s go back to them with an idea to get them on air! NO!! Lets go back to them and find a way to help their business grow through radio advertising! Lets help them see how radio can work for them. Let’s go back to them with an idea based on where they currently are, where they need to go. The second stop is the “Category Demo Showreel”… where the client hears a dozen ads in his category and then choses one… because he thinks it’s a menu.

There are books written with ideas for scripts and promotions. They contain prescripted ideas you can even go to a website, book your airtime, enter your business name, business category and location and it will send you a “script”. Frankly the scripts are OK… but they are not meeting the clients exact business requirements. How can they? If it’s a script for a plumber the script only says “Come to us, because we’re a plumber” Not very dynamic advertising. They may be creative and sound good on air, but what is it doing for the client? On the whole, very little.

I love Dan O’Days Bad Commercial Generator… and it’s amazing how many people think it’s a genuine useful tool! But there is no short cut to writing good radio advertising. The books will help you as a writer to stimulate your mind… but it’s not a bespoke solution for a client.

As Mike Bersin says.. “The reason you see copywriters staring blankly into space (or more often, Facebook) is not that they are trying to come up with an idea… they’re trying to work out what they’re trying to have an idea about!”

I can come up with great ideas for a client.
But I need an great brief in the first place.
Give me that BEFORE we “go back to the client with some ideas”.
Then give me the time and respect to work on it!

Can you come up with a great idea for a removal company?

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