Radio Advertising and Social Media

I’ve noticed an increasing trend with briefs for radio advertising and commercials getting to air. Clients are trying to get plugged in to social media and want people to “follow” or “like” them on Facebook… or to follow them on Twitter and employ various hashtags to do so.

I have no objections to this, but I do have some questions and words of caution for those advertisers.

1. What is the OBJECTIVE of your advertising? What do you want people to DO?

If the objective is to get more people to follow you on Facebook, OK, that’s fair enough. But if your objective is to get people to do business with you, to buy your product or service, why are you sending them to social media? Sending them from an advert… to another advert. Why aren’t you inviting them to your premises… or the e-commerce website where they can buy the product or service from you?

2. Why should I “like” you?

Social Media Landing Page DesignerOne of the things I’m constantly reminded of in all the Radio Advertising training I’ve done over the years is that people really don’t care about your company, even your product or service, what they care about is their need at the time, and how your product or service answers that need. Advertisers are too close to their product and believe the mission statements their company drills into their heads about the core values and the mission statements. It might give THEM a warm fuzzy feeling. But Joe Public really isn’t that bothered. Of the 500 people that may “like” your page, of the few hundred thousand that the radio station reaches… how many will buy from you? Have you given them a good reason. I wont “like” you… I’m not that emotionally invested. But I might BUY something from you.

3. Are you willing to open up the conversation?

Twitter and Facebook are double edged swords. If your business is not doing great customer service the conversation will reflect that. Travelocity is where I go before booking a holiday or visiting a restaurant, and I take note of the reviews and weigh my options. So be careful how you use social media. The boss from a scuba diving company I work for is brilliant at handling the very rare negative reviews he gets on Travelocity. He acknowledges the complaint and he describes what steps he’s taking to rectify and legitimate concerns. If you’re willing to take the good as well as the bad, to be actively engaged on social media, then great… go right ahead.

4. Are you adding value to people’s lives

I did some work for a butchery in the UK and they have a Facebook page. It’s great! Packed full of useful ideas for recipes and with their latest offers. They add value and if I was close to their outlets I would probably “follow” them. But for their radio advertising we did not mention Facebook… the objective was to bring people in to the shops because of the very good deal they were doing on a pack of meat for the BBQ. Again it came down to the desired result of their advertising. It was not to add a thousand Facebook followers… it was to move meat off the shelves.

5. How are you using Radio and Social Media together?

Does this contradict what I’ve said before? I don’t think so. If you have special offers on the radio, make sure they’re on your Facebook page as well, and the landing page of your website (I don’t want to click around to find a special offer, it should be there when I arrive… thank goodness people have generally stopped using flash landing pages!!). People will find you! You MUST make sure you’re EASY to find. People will be looking for you after you’ve advertised on the radio, but STILL your first objective is to get them to do business with you.

I listen to radio whilst using my tablet. I hear something I’m interested in I may Google it, so be prepared. Let the chatter bring in more people. But please, please, consider first what you want your radio advertising to achieve.

I Can’t Hear You

I write radio ads.
I turn up the radio when they come on.
I listen to award winning ads.
I listen to the worst ads.
I listen out for colleagues ads.

But the radio listening public don’t “listen” to radio ads.

Have you ever been to a party where there are lots of conversations going on and someone mentions your name? You pick it from dozens of conversations. The brain is amazing at picking up cues that are relevant.

Radio consumers don’t have a desire to hear radio advertising… what they do have are problems. Their gas boiler is not working, their house is cold, they need to replace their car, they have a puncture, their salary ran out four days before pay day. What they will hear and pick out on the radio is an ad that offers a solution to their problem or need. The radio advertising that doesn’t get heard is the advertising that doesn’t offer that. Quite often it’s advertising crammed with information (because that’s what the client wants in their ad). It just becomes a drone.

Advertisers have to remember it’s NOT what they want to say but what the listener needs to hear to respond.

So say something that will make them tune in and take notice.

I’m not listening

30 seconds

I should read that book by that Chinese General.
Apparently the way he avoided losing in battle was pretty much avoiding the battle.
I am worn down by the fight.

It starts like this. I’d write a great ad. Even if it was only great in my own mind. It answered the brief… and the listener (who frankly only tunes to the station to hear MY ads) would love it. The client loves it too. 40 seconds of crafted genius! But. At here’s the big butt (sic). The exec has already booked the airtime as 30 seconds.

Before the brief landed on my desk.
Before the ad was written and agreed.
Before my parents were born.
The ad was already booked as a 30 seconds.

Now what? Can’t you just get the voices to TALK faster? Eerrrr no!
Can you cut it down? Yes! But it wont be THAT potential award winning masterpiece!
It’s what the client can afford. Really? That Merc driving client I can’t talk to because he’s on holiday in Mauritius?

So I rewrite the idea.
I cut it back to 30 seconds.
It’s passable.
But it’s not what it COULD have been.
My life is a little less fulfilled.
My loyal listening fans are not as enriched by my genius (I guess).
The exec and the client are not sure (after 3 broadcasts) if the ad is working.

But I’m on to the next battle.
I’ve written a series of genius 20s! They’re funny, memorable and compelling.

Guess what.

The client has booked 30s

40secons

Simply the Best – How to survive as a Radio Advertising Copywriter

Tina Turner has a lot to answer for. I thought the cliche “Simply the Best” would have dies a slow painful death by now. Not so. Every now and again we get a client (especially UK clients I write for) who think it would be a great idea to have this tune behind their ad. Well, like a cross border crocodile smuggler, they’d need deep pockets.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, as copywriters we’re dealing with clients who have an idea of what a radio commercial should sound like. When we give them alternative ideas they play it safe. If they write their own it usually starts with a question. “Are YOU thinking of buying a new (insert product)?” Cliché cliché cliché.

As copywriters I don’t think we have a problem coming up with new ideas, or giving old ideas a new spin. What we sometimes have trouble with is finding the energy and spark to fight back the dross and fight for our ideas past the apathy of some sales people (just give ’em what they want!) and the play it safe attitude of some clients.

I have worked at a radio group where the sales people simply would not work well with Creative. They were led by a management who didn’t give a stuff about quality and retention of clients. The job was a constant battle to try and get good practice in place. It was a thankless and soul destroying job.

How do we survive? 8 tips in no particular order….

1. Enjoy the clients who DO go with the more creative compelling ideas. Rejoice in their trust in you.
2. Remember it’s only radio. If we have a bad day, nobody dies.
3. Rejoice in the good sales execs… the ones that give you decent lead times, that produce excellent briefs and that talk you up in front of clients and super serve them. Asked for 1 script? Give them four! (the others?…. give ’em what they want)
4. Get a hobby. Away from radio and sales. I enjoy scuba diving and teaching scuba. If I didn’t have that I would probably be a frazzled mess.
5. Laugh at your mistakes… or at least snigger under your breath.
6. If you have a sales exec who really aggravates you imagine them naked. If that doesn’t work, ask them for a naked photo. It will at least keep them out of your office for a few days.
7. That brilliant idea rejected by a client could be an award winner… produce it and play it out on air (with client permission, in the early hours) and THEN enter it for some awards.
8. Marry a wonderful person who couldn’t care less about your job.

I played it to my kids, and they don’t like it

It’s the client on the phone. They got me to record the ad on their answer machine. Me voicing it and doing the characters over the phone. They played it to their kids and they didn’t like it. It’s good to know that their radio advertising decisions are based on the reaction of a 6 year old kid. Does a 6 year old buy conservatories?

I’m constantly amazed how clients judge their advertising. Gut feeling is great. But the way you judge it is to go back to the brief and see if it answers it. Does it tell people what you want them to do? Does it give them a great reason to do it. I remember some ads from the 1990s by a double glazing company. They created amazing top of mind awareness, in the beginning. Then they gradually started to irritate people. We tried to talk to them about running some ads with actual reasons to buy from them…but we were ignored. After an amazing flash of “awareness” for a couple of years the company eventually went bust. EVERYONE knew them. No one wanted to buy from them.

Ads should not be some kind of ego trip for the owner of the business who wants to hear his own voice on the radio.
Ads should not be just to entertain. (although they CAN entertain)
Ads should not be a platform for the writer to show how wacky and creative he is.
Ads should not be done just to win awards (although the best ones CAN win awards).
Ads are not about awareness or image (that is something that happens anyway, be true to brand… but be more!)

Judge an ad on whether it tells people what it wants them to do in relation to the client and gives them a really good reason to do it. Ads SELL.

If there’s nothing to SELL (and telling people you DO something… like “I sell carpets” is not selling) then don’t judge the ad, judge your brief!

I'm not sure whether this idea has wings

Have you got an idea for a plumber?

The sales exec walks into the office.

“Have you got an idea for a Plumber?”

This time it’s Plumber… but equally she could have  inserted Double Glazing Company, Solicitor, Carpet Shop, Furniture Shop etc.

An idea about what?

Many sales people have a mysterious understanding of the creative process. We actually need to have an idea about what we’re supposed to have an idea about. That’s what the brief is.

I could have a plumber joke in my head. I could have an idea about dancing lemurs in a bathtub. I could have an idea of people playing music using bathroom fittings… BUT they are all irrelevant if they don’t help the client to communicate THEIR message.

Give me the brief and I will give you the ideas.

Oh and the more time you give me the more ideas I may be able to generate. More ideas = more reasons to advertise = easier sales.

Dancing Lemur (not in a bath, that would just be silly)

 

Dear Client….

Mostly I bite my tongue…. but what I WANT to say sometimes….

Dear client….

I spent three years at University learning techniques of radio production. My first job was with the leading radio station creative department at the time, where I learned from some of the top names in Radio Advertising then and still today. My ads were ripped apart and reconstructed by the best. I’ve gone on to work with learn from and mentor some of the UK’s biggest talents in Radio Advertising I’ve spent the last 23 years reading everything I can find on Radio Advertising and studying technique and seeing what ads work and don’t work. I have a few awards, and qualifications from the USA and Canada in copy writing for radio advertising and radio sales. I go in reading, listening researching and looking at how I can grown and know more. I make my best effort to write copy that will help clients meet their objectives, I love my job and love hearing my work on air… I love feedback from happy clients and relish the challenge of those that are not happy with their results (few and far between if they take my advice).

But yer… if you want to write your own ad… feel free. 🙂

Client tips on getting the most from your Radio Advertising

There are a few tricks any tips to getting the most out of your radio advertising campaign:-

1. Be on in plenty of time

It’s amazing how many people talk to the radio station a day or two before their event. You should give writers and producers time to create your advertising. The less time, the less thought will go into your advertising and that’s not a good thing. Three or four days to get the copy sorted, than after approval a couple of days for production. (These days it CAN be quicker, but leave time for possible issues… like your company name pronounced wrong)

2. Be on FOR plenty of time

Radio works with reach and repetition. You need your message going to the most number of people for a good number of times. Ignore the magic number of 3.25 times a listener needs to hear your message, it may need to be more times if your offer isn’t compelling. Whatever the magic number for YOUR ad, you need to be on for a while before people will start responding.

3. Give your campaign time to work.

Stick with it. If you get no response from the first few ads, give it time. Factors that will influence this are things like buying cycles, and how good your offer is!

4. Don’t throw away your creative approach

Maintain a sound for your company. Maybe keep the same music or voice. The sound effect (sonic brand trigger) at the end. Your copywriter should be able to do variations on a theme.

5. Be consistent

You don’t have to be on the radio all the time, but you need to make it sound like you are. When you do big promotions or events with the station you already have a relationship with the listener. Some big companies dip in to radio from time to time and the listener, because they have that personal connection with the station, can be left wondering, “what are you doing here?”

6. Be compelling

If your offer, deal or promotion doesn’t excite anyone outside your company, why would it excite or motivate the listener into action. You will only get a response to your radio advertising IF you give a good enough reason to respond. “Buy our tyres because we sell them” is not a compelling message.

7 Don’t say you’re friendly… sound friendly

“We’re a friendly family company” Mmmm. Mike Bersin uses the illustration of a guy who goes into a bar, walks up to a lady and says “I’m friendly”. How long do you think she’s hang around? Don’t say you’re friendly.. make sure your ads are warm, friendly and inviting…. if that’s the image you want.

8. Reflect in your other media.

I know you probably want to “test” radio. Well test how well it works when you do the mix… and watch how well your press starts to do when you reflect the campaign on radio and TV if you can afford that.

9 Tell your staff

“I’ve come about the buy one get one free offer on tyres?!”
Blank look
“The one on Radio Rushton FM?”
Blanker look (can a look be blanker than blank?)
“Tyres? 2 for 1?”
“I’ll have to call Mike… but he’s on holiday.

Please, let your sales staff… ALL your staff know what you’re running and the deal.You’d be surprised how many don’t! And train them to upsell!!

10. Say when it worked!

Feedback to the Radio Station sales team and writers when a campaign has worked. Put it in writing. Trust me, a client who gives this kind of feedback I love working for… and go the extra mile for. Then if it doesn’t work for them in the future they have my undivided attention.

You want to be the voice on your own commercial?

It worked for that electric razor guy. He voiced and fronted his own radio commercial. It seems like a good idea at the time. The Sales Person wants you to sign the airtime order and you… we’ll you’re probably where you are in business because you have a bit of an ego and they’ve spotted an opportunity to flatter you the client, stroke your ego and get you to sign. They say “You’ve got a great voice! Why don’t we get you to voice the commercial?”

Just because I can sing a few bars of a song doesn’t mean I want to humiliate myself on the X Factor!!

Frankly there are only a handful of clients who should ever be let near a microphone. You may have a nice voice but it may not be right for the delivery… may not sound good on air, the ads may not be written for your delivery, the station may have a policy not to allow client voiced ads, many clients freeze in front of a microphone (quite common).

Also you think that you will get your ad cheaper because you’re not employing a professional voice artist to voice the ad. Well, I usually charge double. Eeek… why? Because it’s going to take twice, or even 5 times as much time in the studio to voice and edit the audio, that the professional would have given me in one, unedited take.

Some radio stations have a policy of not allowing clients to voice their own commercials, and you will understand why when you hear some of the stations that do allow it. The professional voices used are very skilled at talking to time, talking clearly, not sounding like they are reading, bringing out the main copy points. They are also skilled at getting it right after just a couple of takes. If you have little or no experience it will take you a long time in the studio and time is money. At the end of it you may end up with a radio commercial that the station Programme Controller will not want played on his station.

Now you’re thinking I’m against client voiced commercials? No. I’m not against using the clients voice… it’s just it may be best to use the voice for a small part of the ad… maybe delivering your customer service promise of a tag line? Maybe you DO have the charisma to deliver the ad… like Victor Kiam. But you need to work really hard… first to get commercials written that you can deliver, and time spent in the studio to get it right. In Newcastle in the late 1980’s there was the phenomenon that was Mr. Rahman. An elderly Hindi gentleman that voiced his own commercials. They were famous… and he even was used to make announcements at Newcastle United for a while. But every sentence he said had to be edited and painstakingly put together to make his ads.

So take the advice of your writer or the station’s commercial producer. Perhaps voice just a couple of lines? Perhaps there is someone who could be your “voice” or perhaps rather than use your voice we could develop a character? There are a handful of clients who voice their radio commercials very successfully, but for every one that does there are a couple of dozen that sound dreadful on air and don’t do themselves any favours.

The real question is why do you want to voice the commercial? Is it because you want your friends to hear you on the radio station or is there a good, solid business reason. If there is, communicate it to the writer and see whether he or she comes up with.

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Using Famous or Celebrity Voices

I don't believe it!

The client phones me and tells me he has had an idea. It’s using an impression of Richard Wilson with the final line “I don’t believe it” I don’t believe it, it’s the third time that month I have to explain that the radio station and the client could be sued. Richard Wilson is available to do Voice Overs and makes a portion of his living from that kind of work. An impression of him is a form of theft. You could use the genuine article, but he may not do the catch-phrase and is probably sick to death of people asking him! AND how long ago was that show on mainstream TV?

Talk to your writer. A well known personality could add so much to your campaign.

Some Celebrities make themselves readily available for radio work, have great agents and are a delight to work with, but there others who you wont get past their agent because they “don’t do radio”. Some people wont do certain products or services either for personal reasons or because they are already tied to a regional or national advertiser in the same category, or their tied into a contract, like soap stars usually can’t do commercials or people doing Motoring Programmes may not be able to do car ads. Just try booking Jeremy Clarkson for a Motor Dealer ad!

Some are just too busy to do radio… and don’t need the money.
Some just can’t do it. Voicing is a skill and not everyone can do it… even some well known actors just can’t perform in front of the radio microphone.

Your writer can advise you, find agents, organise sessions, book studios in the capital, where most celebs want to work, or find studios around the country. You will pay a premium for Celebrity Voices, but it can be a lot less than you think. Think about producing multiple ads at the same time because the more ads you have done at once the more cost effective it can become. Your writer will be able to give you a quote.

When you are presented with ads for a celebrity voice there are certain things which should have been taken into consideration:-

They will be written for that specific person. Don’t expect that the scripts written for Tom Baker can be voiced by Joe Pasquali.

You WILL have to pay a fortune if you want any kind of endorsement. So don’t expect John Doe to say “Hi, this is John Doe and I love Billy Burn’s BMW Garage” You will be expected to pay thousands if the VO even agrees to do it. Most of the time you are employing the actor to play a part.

The voice must be recognisable. You might not be able to name the person but their voice will be familiar.

Make sure the voice would convey your sales message effectively. Ask the writer why he chose the voice, they should have specific reasons.

And book the celebrity… not the part they play on a TV show or in a movie. That part doen’t even belong to them…. so book Richard Wilson… but don’t expect him to be the “One Foot in the Grave” character.

And one more danger! Make sure that your product or service is remembered FIRST… NOT the celebrity voice, with the listener not remembering what the ad was about. The Celebrity voice sould be there to make you think MORE about the product or service.

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