Way Off the Mark!: Kiss Me, You Writer!

Way-Off-The-Mark-Logo-2By Mark Margulies

No, that’s not some line out of an old Bette Davis movie. And no, it’s not a department of the government directly reporting to President Clinton. K.I.S.S. is an acronym that writers of all styles and types should live by. Sure, you can substitute favored words of your own if you like, but I learned it as Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a lesson that too often we, as creative writers, sometimes forget.

Keeping it simple means delivering and executing a simple idea and simple message. And that starts with the Account Executive. Again, I urge every copywriter and Production Director to once a month attend a sales meeting and ask your GSM or LSM for a few minutes to address the staff. Then, gently remind the AEs that they don’t need to submit a small novel with each order. Find out what the client’s main objective is, elaborate on it a little, and start the creative process with one sheet of information, or less.

Having begun there, it’s our turn. And too many times we get wrapped up in the moment or the idea and forget what our focus is. So in helping to maintain the K.I.S.S. philosophy, write your spot, then ask these four questions, and see if the copy conforms to the following criteria:

A. Have I clearly stated or explained to the audience what the client has that’s special?

B. Have I clearly asked the audience to act in a certain way?

C. Have I made that course of action clear (i.e., call, stop by, come in at a certain hour or day)?

D. Has my scenario or creative idea helped to reinforce the action (in other words, if I want them to call, is my scenario working along those lines, or is it something totally different)?

In fulfilling the fourth criteria above, it’s essential to understand that the scene or idea you create has to, IN SOME WAY, relate to the action that the audience must perform. Otherwise, you’re solely and totally dependent on the entertainment value of your creation to leave a lasting impression and accomplish the goal. If a client is dependent upon phone calls, and your scenario or copy doesn’t even mention that course of action until forty-five seconds or later into the copy, you’ve put yourself in a huge hold. Subliminal or actual reinforcement is one of the strongest tools we have, and by keeping it simple, you don’t waste any chance to affect your audience. Plus, in most cases, you don’t have the luxury of agency-sized clients or budgets. Thus, with many clients and their shortened flight schedules, every opportunity counts. Depend on the entertainment value of a script to create interest and results, and you walk a tenuous tightrope, especially in the current radio market that features elongated stop sets and too many spots that sound alike.

So, keep it simple. Keep it clean. Always remember, in today’s marketplace, your spot could end up third, fourth, fifth, or DEEPER in a stop set. Is your audience listening? Can you still motivate them to act? Will they understand what they’re supposed to do if they hear an offer they like? If not, it’s an opportunity wasted, and too many wasted opportunities result in a client who won’t be renewing because of a lack of success.

K.I.S.S. Let it be your mantra. Write it in big, bold letters and paste it above your word processor. It’s an essential idea to creating lasting images, powerful copy, and more successful radio clients.