Let Your Staff Know

One day God was sitting when an Angel came up to him. “God, you’ve created all these wonderful things, but the guys down stairs would like to have a go… we’ve formed a committee… and we think we can do a pretty good job.” For the next week God could hear all the arguments and discussions coming from the board room… until he was finally presented with the results… “What is heaven’s name is THAT!?” He asked. “That…. Is a platypus!”


The shop assistant looked back at me blankly over the counter. He was doing his best impression of a goldfish. I was there because of the special offer on a mobile phone. Free in car charger, hands free kit and leather case. The problem was that the owner of the shop had not communicated any of their current campaign with anyone on the shop floor. The manager said it had been discussed, but no decision had been made. The owner had actually started running radio ads on the local station, but the shop did not even have the radio station playing in the store! No communication and a lot of red faces.

If you’re doing any radio advertising campaign… no ANY advertising campaign… it is essential that all your staff are briefed and know how to respond to a customer. It’s a good idea to play the radio commercials to your staff. But this is the moment to warn them, you are not looking for opinions. You’re not interested if your staff likes them or doesn’t like them. In all likely hood your staff are not the target audience for your product. You are letting them know what is going out on air. If you allow your staff to make changes, give opinions, make their opinions on the script you will end up with a platypus script. I have even had one client who would get the opinion of his 7 year old child before he ran a commercial… he was selling window frames, not even a product aimed at children. Not the actions of a smart marketeer.

Your emplotees opinions may count, you need the experience of your people at the sharp end, but at a much earlier stage of the creative, and in the overall creative collective brain of your business.

Remember, you staff need to know what’s happening with your advertising.

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Retail Sales Staff

Recruitment on Radio

My friend Ian loves his job. He is good at it. He’s dedicated. He’s also very happy in his current position. Ian does not look at the recruitment pages. Why would he? He’s not looking for a job. But one day he heard a radio commercial. The radio commercial was a recruitment ad for a rival company. They were looking for people just like him… and were offering some better conditions than his current employers and a chance to progress. For him it wasn’t about the pay, it was about the opportunity to develop his career. He was not looking to move…. but he was given a good reason to rethink.

For recruitment, radio reaches people who are not necessarily wanting to change jobs, but would move if they were given a good reason. Frankly, most of the people who scour the recruitment pages of magazines or website are people who are either dissatisfied and de-motivated in their current position, about to leave their current job for whatever reason, or are not yet qualified job seekers that will apply for any job in the hope they can bluff their way through the interview.
Radio will work well with your newspaper recruitment ads… the newspaper can give all the details and the application process… radio will reach people who are happy and motivated. These are much more desirable staff.

There are a few things to remember with recruitment advertising on the radio. Just like a product ad campaign, think clearly about how you want people to respond. Concentrate on 1 point of contact… if it’s to email a CV make sure it’s a “Radio Friendly” email address. Give the listener a really good reason to respond. With radio it’s worth spending a bit of time to ensure you only get the right kind of applicants. It’s better to have 6 applications qualified for a position, than 100 with only 1 suitable candidate. Don’t try to sell the whole job in your radio ad…. leave a bit of space and curiosity.

Also, you need to sound like someone who people want to work for. Formal language announcements on radio may have been fine 20 years ago, now you need to speak to people in a language they respond to. Government bodies are particulary bad at trying to make a job sound important by using language no one uses. Talk to the individual you are trying to recruit.

Radio recruitment advertising is very powerful.

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The Customer is Always Right

The expression “the customer is always right” is probably one of the most destructive clichés in business. Quite often I have clients re-writing part of their script, or trying to combine two scripts into one. Or the client attempts to shoehorn too much information into their commercials, or they come up with an “idea” for their radio commercial which is idea driven rather than brief driven. OR they want their phone number adding to the radio commercial for their car dealership.

The Customer is quite often wrong. But they are always paying!

I will use another cliché used in sales training. When you go to see a doctor do you suggest the kind of treatment you would like? No, you describe the symptoms; he or she makes the diagnosis and suggests the kinds of treatments available. You may get a choice and the doctor will give you an opinion on which is the best course of action. OK, let’s say this doctor gives us a course of antibiotics… would you suggest that you take half the prescription and save half the price on the tablets.

But then I trust my Doctor. He’s been to medical school. He’s worked in a practice with other Doctors who helped him when he was first started out. He’s diagnosed and cured hundreds and thousands of sick people. I trust his experience.
Now for your radio advertising you need the help of “Radio Doctors”. You need experts from the radio station to help you solve your business problems. You can tell a good radio sales person because they’re not concerned with opening your wallet, but concerned about helping your business to grow. They will ask more questions about your businesses than try and sell you “Rushton FM”. The BAD ones will come to you with pre-prepared contracts and spot plans before you’ve even discussed a brief. They will use all the hackneyed sales tricks in the book, because all they have been trained in is double-glazing style sales techniques.

A good sales person is like a doctor, they try to get to the root of the problem. They do a fact find and take a brief. They will become a trusted partner. Someone who is helping you to invest your advertising money to get a return on that investment. They will introduce you to consultant specialists, the copywriters who will communicate your message effectively, and they will schedule it to hit the right kind and number of people for your business.
You are an expert on your business; you are the right person to express the symptoms. You will have insights into your business and the reasons people buy from you, but properly trained sales people know how to help you use radio effectively.

This isn’t philanthropic reasoning that drives the good radio groups to train their sales people properly. The cost of the resale is much lower than the cost of the initial sell. So it’s in the Radio Company’s best interests to retain clients. You do THAT by making sure the radio works hard for them. When they try their best for you, but you make up your own rules and the campaign doesn’t do as well as it COULD have done…. well… the customer is always right!

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Branding Happens… Use Radio to Get a Response

When a man stands in front of you in an expensive suit, addressing a large audience, you believe what he says. It must be true! After all he is wearing an expensive suit! The man in the suit is a Branding Expert (although I’m not sure what qualified him as an expert) But my friend, a former client, is sitting next to me and chuckling under his breath.. The suit has just made the statement “It’s all about branding!” Afterwards my friend tells me, for his business selling sofa sets and beds, it’s not about branding, it’s all about sales. He doesn’t really care about branding, as long as he can sell for more than it costs him.

A former radio colleague of mine said this… branding happens! Yes, absolutely make sure that your radio commercials are true to your brand image, protect your brand, use radio to reinforce the brand image and those emotion tags that people give to brands. Every advertising message, every marketing campaign, even the way your receptionist answers the phone, all contributes to your brand image. When you go for a dinner party, people will form an impression of what you are like, even by the firmness (or lack of it) in your handshake. You need to make sure you put over the image you WANT to portray. That’s why spot advertising is important. You have great control over the image being portrayed. But if every message you put out IS branding… make that message about selling the product. What do you want me to do? Why should I do it?

Sometime clients tell me they want “name awareness”. So I ask them “How will you measure the success of your campaign?” If they answer “by the number of products we sell as a result of the campaign” then we can talk about the thrust of the campaign being to get people to walk through their door and buy product X. Sales. Radio advertising is multiplied sales.

If a smooth talking radio sales person, or advertising agency account handler tells you ït’s all about branding”, ask them how you would be able to measure the success of the campaign?

Branding happens. Use radio to tell people what you want them to do, and give them a really good, irresistible, compelling reason to act.

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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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Don’t Stop Your Press Advertising to fund your Radio Advertising

A preacher who led a worldwide faith healing ministry was once asked what he would do if he got a headache. They were trying to trick him and make him look silly. John Wimber answered “I would take an asprin and say a prayer… and whichever worked first I would praise God for it!”

Your advertising should not be a matter of faith, it should be a matter of tried and tested principles… It’s an investment that you expect to give you a return. But, like a prayer and an asprin, radio and press work very effectively together.

Some people want to “test” radio. OK, let me tell you now… radio works. What doesn’t work is trying to advertise a product with no benefits to the listener. You are not testing radio, you are testing your offer, or product against the listener’s needs and wants. If you want to really see powerful advertising have a compelling offer and use a combination of press and radio. Press is really good at getting details across, radio is amazing at emotion or using the listeners imagination to “test drive” the product. The two working together can be amazing. I’ve had clients tell me that their press adverts work two or three times harder when combined with radio. There are things you can do to free up budget to help fund your radio. For example a half page press ad is about 75% as effective as a full page. So you can save money without losing much! And combining with press more than makes up for the 25% loss.

Use your press in a way that reflects the radio campaign, and use print to get over more complex visuals or information. (Like phone numbers!)

Use radio creatively, a good radio ad CAN entertain, but that should never be the primary purpose. Make sure you tell people how you want them to respond, and give them a compelling reason to do so.

Use both media and make sure you make it as easy as possible for people to business with you.

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Talking telephone numbers

On the way out she told me her phone number...

I met the girl at a dinner party at a friends house. We got on magically. It was like the other people at the party just blended into the background. As she left she told me her phone number. “Will you remember it?” she asked. Of course I would! It was etched in my mind!

The next morning it was forgotten.

There are things that client insist on going into their radio commercials and the phone number is top on that list. I wonder sometimes how many hours of my life I have spent in discussion with clients to try to make them understand that putting their phone number in a commercial is generally a waste of time. Putting two different phone numbers in is just plain silly. Putting three numbers in (yes, it does happen) is just beyond belief If your business does business over the phone, that is that people purchase by phone, then by all means put the phone number in. You have to repeat it, you have to make it catchy, you have to get people to sing it in the shower. But if you want people to come and buy your product, don’t waste valuable radio advertising time trying to get people to remember a phone number, motivate them to come to you and buy it. I love Dan O’Day’s example, if you were a shoe shop why would someone call you?:

You: Hi, do you sell shoes?

Them: Err Yes! We’re a shoe shop!

You: Great! Thank you.

Then there is a question I ask my clients. How many phone numbers do YOU remember from radio commercials? I’d make a bet its only ones that are sung, repeated, and are easy to remember.

In any radio commercial you should ask for one action and give a good reason to perform that action. So if you want your phone number in a commercial ask the question… “Why should the listener phone?”. If you want a phone response, do a commercial to get a phone response. Otherwise, leave the phone number out.

And web addresses? If you can’t capture a sale at your website, why would you send anyone there?

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Dear Mr. Radio Advertising Client

Every Month I ask some of the top people in Radio Advertising for their client tips. Most of them ignore me. But Emma answered!

Emma Clarke (http://www.emmaclarke.com/) knows a thing or two about radio commercials. She’s voiced thousands and writes for radio and TV. She has some things to say to you, Mr. Radio Advertising Client (or Mrs, Miss or Ms.) Some of the points I will be covering later in more depth.

“I reckon it’s all about the brief-take. If that isn’t done right, the whole process falls apart. Quick thoughts:

Trust the copywriter who’s writing your ad – it’s his area of expertise, not yours

If you’ve got an idea for an ad by all means share it, but don’t be offended if the copywriter recommends you don’t use it.

Don’t turn your ad into a vanity project: don’t be tempted to name your wife, daughter, son, mother etc in the ad as ‘character names’

Don’t use rhyming couplets unless there’s a damn good marketing reason behind it…
Have realistic expectations of what your ad will achieve

Don’t contort a successful national campaign of a big brand into a watered-down version that might just fit your ad (I’m thinking here of the HUNDREDS of M & S style ads I’ve been asked to voice)

Make sure your ad really does match your brand, your company ethos and suits your product or service

Go for one call-to-action per ad.

Understand that less words in an ad mean a better quality ad; if your ad has ‘space’ in it, don’t think it means you’re getting sold short – the reverse is true

Trust the producer who’s making the ad and the voices who’ll read your script – they know what they’re doing!

When you’re critiquing your ad for the first time, please don’t be unnecessarily rude

Trust that radio advertising can take time to reap the rewards for your business – try to use social media to back up your marketing push (the only cost will be your time!)”

Thanks Emma!

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If the answer is 30 seconds, what was the question?

My job as a radio advertising copywriter, in a nutshell, is this. Write radio advertising copy that translates into audio, that sells the client’s product or service. My job is not to entertain the audience, although I always hope that some of the ads I write will entertain. I want the client to be remembered (for the right reasons) and I want the ads to motivate the listener to action. The programming staff also want me to make sure that the listener doesn’t turn off their radio, or switch stations, because my ad has irritated them
To do the job properly how long do I need?
It varies. Research such as the Ironing Board and Jigsaw studies showed that people remember longer and more creative ads better. But if you have shorter ads you can “replay” the longer ad in the mind of the listener. So sometimes I suggest a combination of 40s and 20s (once they’re written). But the truth is that a commercial needs to be as long as it needs to be to do the job.

I hate hearing a great ad ruined because it’s been edited down to the nominal 30 seconds that has been pre-sold to the client. I’ve also heard unfocused and rambling 60 second commercials (often in the US) that should have been 20 or 30 seconds long.

30 seconds is NOT a standard. It helps the station to price their inventory, but it’s NOT a guide to how long a radio commercial should be.

My former Colleagues, talented writer Rhodri Crooks and wizard with the faders and mouse Duncan Brown, then at Aire FM in Leeds (an incidentally using good old fashioned 8-track) created a wonderful 3 minute commercial for a local nightclub. It played twice a week, on a Friday night. It was requested on air, it was popular and worked for the client. And it was NOT 30 seconds long.

At the other end of the scale, talented writer Tom Woods did an amazing 10 second commercial for a car wash. It won numerous national and international awards. And it was NOT 30 seconds long.

Don’t buy 30 second spots!! Buy advertising solutions. Some of them will be 30 seconds long. Many wont. If you are presented with a schedule based on this duration be prepared to be flexible. Otherwise you may get the ad that had to be produced, rather than the one that should have been produced. Whether it is longer, or shorter than 30 seconds!

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