Remembering Brian Glover

A bit of Friday nostalgia… remembering the lovely voice of Brian Glover, who sadly died in 1997 and some ads what I wrote for him. He had a fabulous voice and was great fun to work with.

The first one was for Renault Leicester, inspired by the late great Mike Hurley… and his Bill Bore character. He did something similar to this but I took the idea and took it a bit further. It got a Finalist Certificate in the London International Advertising Awards. Mike teased me for years about “borrowing” his idea.

The next features the voice of Rob Rackstraw. A little bit too Tetley Teabag for my liking, but that was the brief! The client was Newbolds. Brian, as usual, put so much effort into getting it just right.

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I love radio ads!

I read a lot about radio advertising. I am a radio advertising geek. I listen to radio ads, I read what people write about radio ads and I think a lot about radio ads. I hate the fact that music and presenters get in the way of the radio ads… I turn UP the ads to hear them better.

Hurry Darling! The Advertising Messages are coming on soon!

The listener doesn’t. The listener really doesn’t care about radio ads. And when they do it’s often because they are irritated or offended by them.

When we think about getting commercials to work we have to think carefully not just about the message, but HOW you engage the target market. An attention grabbing siren or voice shouting “Attention! Attention!” is exactly the right way to turn the listen off your message. Listeners are already listening… they may just be passive listeners until you relate your product or service to something that is, or could happen in their lives that the product or service could deal with.

You have to think very carefully about the listener and how they will respond to the message.
Many years ago I was freelancing at a radio station in Leicester, UK. They has a Personal Injury Company that was advertising on air with some very funny commercials. Nicely written, attention grabbing and hilarious. The only problem was, it wasn’t working for them. The thing was, if you’d been in a serious car accident you were not finding things amusing. So I wrote some empathetic, straight voice ads for the client… and used the lovely vocal talent of Nick Jackson.The client said then the first commercial ran it was like turning on a tap… with calls coming in as the adverts were aired. We didn’t have to grab the attention of the listeners, we just had to reach out to the point where they were in their lives and give a compelling reason to call the client.

Sometimes the answer is wonderful creative adverts. Sometimes it’s a wonderfully written straight announcer read.

I have to go now… I think there’s an ad break coming up!

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Buy Shoes From Us… Because We Sell Shoes

When I was a child I used to think I could move things using the power of my mind.
The only reason I couldn’t was because I hadn’t mastered the technique.
I can remember staring at a glass of water trying to make it move.
Eventually I realized that the best way to move a glass of water, it to actually use your hand.

Move! Come ON! MOVE!!!

Radio advertising, for some clients, is like staring at a glass of water. You put something on air and hope that it will increase your business. Like the advertiser this week that gave me the brief… buy shoes from us because we sell shoes. Now, given time (unlike my mind control) it may work and you get customers in because you just let people know you are there. But it’s easier to give them a good reason to visit.

Is it new stock and styles? Is it a promotion on a particular kind of footwear? Is it a sale? Is it an event of some kind (Fab Feet Friday?) People need a reason to walk or drive past the competition. Then apply the “so what?” rule. If it doesn’t make you want to act, do you think it would motivate the listener?

Advertising is about getting results…. Not about image (although it’s important to have and maintain an image) or branding (branding happens anyway, just make sure your ad is ON BRAND). It’s all about getting results. You will not get results by just staring at the customers. Use your hand to reach on and grab them and give them a good reason to come to you. (In this case the hand is a metaphor for your radio advertising). It’s not some kind of magic. Tell people what you want them to do (or react) and give them a good reason to do it.

By the way… every now and again I find a glass, fill it from the tap, and try again… just in case the skill develops with age.

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The Power of Radio

That's it lady! Just look ahead and keep walking!

When you visit a craft fair in Kenya it’s best to fix your eyes firmly ahead, avoid all eye contact and show interest in absolutely nothing at all! Anything else is considered what a sales person would call a “buying signal”. You MUST want to buy that over priced carving because you scratched your nose.

Clients of radio stations believe that saying how well their campaign worked is an automatic signal for the sales peron to increase their prices… so working at a radio station it’s rare to get positive feedback from a client. The most you get from them is “well… it’s working O.K…” Even though you know that their store was packed during the sale, or that they had twice as many customers as normal during the campaign.

Last week I had the pleasure to meet a client who was not shy in talking about how his campaign had worked. He told me that they had managed to sell more in six months than they would normally expect to do in 2 and a half YEARS. He told me how he was going to pull his press advertising and put all his money in radio. WAIT! No, please don’t do that! I love radio, and I love how effective radio can be for clients… but please don’t drop your other advertising! There ARE ways you can save money on other media, and use it to spend MORE on radio, but using different media together increases the effect of each one individually. So Radio is MORE powerful when combined with press or TV.

But it was great to hear how powerfully radio was working for this client.

If you’re advertising and it’s working for you, let the radio station and the people involved know.

If it’s NOT working for you…there will be a reason. then let me have a look at your brief and your scripts… and for a fee I can help you to rewrite, or rebrief to get powerful advertising on the radio! (Was that self promotion? Probably!)

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Writing to Time

It’s hard to get all your camping equipment in the back of a 1979 Triumph Spitfire. I know this from bitter experience. But it is possible to get enough for a week if you pack cleverly… and leave out all the things that are not really important. Leave behind the airbed. the guitar, the cooker. (I can live off tree moss for a couple of days.)

Like mine, but mine had wire wheels.

It’s amazing how many clients think they can simply add words to their crafted radio commercial. “Can we just say we’re open 7 days a week… including Sunday?” (really… Sunday is included in those 7 days?) “can we just add our phone number?” The answer is yes, you can add more words but you will have to move to a different duration… from a 30 to a 40, or a 30 to a 45 (depending on how airtime is sold where you live).

It happened to me again today. The client gave us an ad (written by an advertising agency) that they said was a 30 second ad. I timed it at 50 seconds. They cut it back… I timed it again… 40 seconds. They insist that it was do-able in 30 seconds because they had “done a word count” and it came to 100 words… which in their opinion was OK for 30 seconds.
A few problems… they had not allowed time for the sound effects, they had not realized that the client’s name looked like one word but was in fact three words, and that a phone number (yes, a completely pointless phone number) was actually ten words. My word count… 125 words!

Even then, 3 words per second is quick… so 90 words for a 30 second spot is a little optimistic.

There is only one way to get an accurate time on your radio commercial. Read it out loud, with a stopwatch, and put in the sound effects while you’re reading it through. Project your voice a bit and read it clearly, don’t mumble a hurried script.

My belief is that a commercial SHOULD be as long as it needs to be to do the job. But if I’ve written it to a certain duration, and you want to add words, we need more time. It’s not like press where you could maybe reduce the font size.
No, I can’t make the voice go faster! It will ruin your ad!

No, I can’t speed it up, scrunch it with clever electronics and cut all the breaths out! It will sound false (or like Mickey Mouse on speed… not that Mickey would take speed… he’s been clean for years!).
So, buy a stopwatch… and read it out loud!

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It’s not what you want to say… it’s what the listener needs to hear

Nice Award!

He was very proud of his award. You have to admit it was big and shiney. It had pride of place in his company’s reception. And he wanted it to have pride of place in his radio commercials too. Now it was our job to talk him out of it. Why? Because that award means absolutely nothing to his customers.

You might have a nice bit of engraved glass that says, “The UK’s Most Innovative Small Business, Teapots and Jugs Sector, 2011”, but what does that mean to someone buying clothes pegs from you? Now tell me that you’ve developed a little stainless steel jug that doesn’t spill when you pour milk into your coffee and I’d be interested! But an award? So what!!

Many clients want to boast about their business, they may have awards and done things as a company that they are very proud of. But you have to step outside for a moment and think about what it actually means for the customer. Why should they care?

What the customer needs to hear is how the product or service will change their life or experience for the better. If you’re a restaurant owner who is constantly cleaning table linen because customers spill milk on them… would you be interested in that little milk jug?

How does a good car sales person sell you a vehicle? First they think about the customer, they take a brief! They find out about their life, their needs… and then they show them the vehicle that will fulfill their wants. It’s no good trying to sell a two seat sports car to a guy with a family of 6 and a caravan! It’s not about what the sales person’s needs… (hitting his target, getting rid of that two seater that’s been in the showroom for 2 years) it’s about the customer and selling what answers his or her problems. Can you get all your family in your current car? How well does it tow your caravan? Well this is the car that will do what you need it to do! Do they care that the sales person was Sales Person of the Month 6 months in a row? Not likely!

Think about the customer. And apply the Alvin Eicoff formula: Set Forth the Problem, explain the solution, demonstrate how your product and service best provides the solution. Not what you WANT to say! What the listener needs to hear.

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“I want my website in my radio ad…”

Yesterday the client sent back their re-written script. They were trying to drive ticket sales through about three outlets. Not a massive problem. But then they added the seemingly compulsory website address… “for more information”.

What more information do you need! The ad gave the event, the prices, and where to buy tickets, you COULDN’T buy them online. The web address was just a waste of time… and lessened the impact because now I was confused… am I supposed to go and buy tickets or go to the website? I now had less time in the scripts to sell the BENEFITS of going to the event.
The client just lessened the impact of their radio spots.

Oh… but that wasn’t the end of it. They wanted a SECOND web address! And on both they wanted to say www dot! There is a convention in radio advertising that you can drop the www because a) it’s assumed and b) it’s long and adds 2 seconds to an ad! Unfortunately in this instance we were separated from the client by an Advertising Agency. Not Creatives, or people interested in helping the client get campaigns that work… but in this case by an Account Handler that was just interested in the short term commission.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Client…. Just because you HAVE a web address, doesn’t mean it should be in your radio ad. What EXACTLY are you trying to get people to do? If I’m selling hotdogs I want people to come and buy hot dogs, not to visit my hotdog website, or even to “like” my hotdog Facebook page.

If you DO need a web address is… and you’re selling something there… and that’s your objective… them make sure you have a radio friendly web address. Don’t use hyphens, underscore or ambiguous words.

If I say “Rushton too be creative dot com” is that Or

If you have a complicated address, think about buying another address where you can just forward to your existing one. For example just forwards to this blog. I had a client who had an address that was a bit like this… (I have changed some of the exact details )

Their offer was on their famous steaks. They bought the address which was something like

Much better for radio AND their campaign! We were able to say… “to print out your 2 for 1 voucher visit “I want a big fat juicy steak dot com””.

Web addresses can be great for radio, after all radio is the medium that internet consumers use while they are surfing the net. But think about what you want people to do. If you want them to visit your site, why should they? What is in it for them? Think about web offers, printable vouchers, or money off coupons sent to their mobile phone. Think about making your site usable for e-commerce, for online catalogues and ordering tools… not just some fancy graphics and flash animations put together by your nephew to “look cool”.

And please, please, please don’t try to put TWO web addresses into your ads!

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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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