Radio Hed: Stop Lying

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

Your audience doesn’t trust you. Why should they? They’ve grown up learning not to trust politicians, doctors, lawyers, corporate officers, clergy and the media. Why should they believe your commercial? It’s just one of the 3,000 advertising messages they’re bombarded with daily.

Our commercials often say, “We have the best this, the most that, we’ve been in business for these many years…” Or, we start a commercial with a joke, then drop in a pitch, and maybe end with a punch line. Meanwhile our listener is saying, “Who cares? Won’t anyone tell me the truth, level with me, just give me the facts?

Here’s an audience hungering for something, true, authentic and real. My suggestion – give them the truth, because truth has power. Sometimes when we present the truth, we don’t make the facts interesting enough to keep listeners’ attention, or we couch them in hyperbole. So how can we reach today’s listeners with what’s relevant to them?

Tell the truth, but build it into a story. Make it interesting. Make it about the listener – his hopes, fears, dreams and needs. Make it funny, dramatic, unexpected, conversational, understated or even unpolished.

Here are some steps to take to create “real’ radio commercials: Collect information from your client, their customers and their competitors. Use search engines: “What are (types of customers, psychographic or demographic groups) feeling?”

Examples to search for: car buyers, dieters, home remodelers, single moms with 2 kids, early adapters, retired bricklayers who raise parrots. This will give you insights to write relevant stories about them.

Truth-finding: What does your client not have? What don’t they do? Who can’t they help? What’s wrong? Look for the “chinks in the armor” and include them in the campaign. These inclusions will help humanize your advertiser. Examples: no fancy showroom, not open Mondays, out-of-way location, tacky sign, bad coffee.

Don’t be afraid to share the advertiser’s little faults with the audience. Stop presenting the advertiser as perfect. The 5% of things that aren’t ideal lend credibility to the other 95% in your campaign.

The truth for one group may not be the truth for another. Your research in step 1 will help you come up with the relevant touchstones in the lives of your target audience. What is your audience already thinking/feeling – about life, or about the client, or the advertising category? Describe what they’re already thinking and feeling and show that your client understands their pain and has a solution.

Examples: “Wouldn’t you like to have home delivery of food that wasn’t pizza?” “Don’t you hate it when car salespeople try to trick you?” “Isn’t it aggravating when you pay more in late fees than the original video rentals?” “Why is it that whatever you bought breaks down the day after the warranty runs out?” “Aren’t you tired of trying to meet someone special in a noisy bar?”

There are 6 more steps in the process coming… next month. And that’s no lie.

© 2005 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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