Radio Hed: 180 Degrees of Separation

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

So many choices, so little time.

How do you determine the kind of commercial to create for your client? Often they’ll have suggestions (demands). Sometimes they’re right. Often they’re not. Here’s a question that can set you both on the right path: What is your client’s competition doing? In many markets, all the advertisers in each category are doing the same thing.

  • Car dealers – all screaming
  • Furniture stores – all discounting
  • Health providers – all caring
  • Food stores – all price & item
  • Financial services – all here for you

So, once you’ve seen the direction the herd is going, your next move is easy: go in the opposite direction. Create a message that is 180 degrees away from where the competition is going, or 180 degrees from what listeners would expect to hear from that type of client.

However, going against the grain may very well be shocking, frightening or socially unacceptable to your client. Now the work begins. How can you lead your client away from lemming-like behavior?

Try this: Prepare a montage of all the competitor’s spots. Remove the names. String ‘em together. Play it for your client. This exercise can help them hear how all those messages blend into one confusing stream of sameness.

Now – find ways to make his spots stand out from the crowd. All screaming? Try whispering. All price & item? Try grouping related products together as a barbecue pack, a winter warm up group, or a skin care ensemble. All pretending they’re perfect? Admit some flaws and tell stories about them. All factual? Get emotional – reach the listener’s gut, touch his pain, offer solutions.

Warning: making overt or oblique references to the competitors – humorously or not, can backfire by drawing attention to the competition or putting your client in a secondary position. Just go opposite and see what happens.

As Robert Frost wrote in “The Road Not Taken,” his poem about effective radio writing:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

It can make all the difference to your client.

© 1997-2010 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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