Make Your Own Ginger Beer – Homemade Ginger Beer Improved

(Glad to be blogging again after a lengthy hiatus.  This post, my first of 2016, has nothing to do with advertising or radio though. Rather, I’m going to share my recipe for making homemade ginger beer – the non-alcoholic variety – along with some valuable tricks I’ve learned along the way for improving both the process and the result.)

A glass of homemade ginger beer with a slice of fresh lime

A glass of homemade ginger beer with a slice of fresh lime

I’ve been working at this for a few years now, after having been introduced to the delicious homemade ginger beer at South Fork Public House in Pullman. Friends have asked me for the recipe so after making another batch today, I decided to share the recipe here, along with a few iPhone pics that document the process at the end of the post.

The basic recipe is super simple – just 5 ingredients.  I usually make a gallon at a time.

– a clean one-gallon jug with screw cap
nut milk bag (makes extraction of juice from pulp SO much neater and easier)
– 2 small funnels (one for the wet ingredients, one for sugar)
– my wife’s food processor (for grating ginger root to a pulp; you can do this by hand with a vegetable peeler, grater, or Microplane, as I started out doing, but it’s tedious and time-consuming. The food processor and nut milk bag simplify the job and make it a lot less messy. In fact, I don’t even bother peeling the ginger root anymore.  Just wash it and feed it into the processor.)
– (optional) a small piece of cheesecloth to further filter solids from the ginger juice when pouring it into the jug


1. 1 large ginger root (around 1/2 pound, enough to yield 6-7 tablespoons of ginger juice)

2. 2 cups of sugar

3. 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

4. 4 quarts of water

5. One-half teaspoon of active dry yeast (If you want to get fancy, you can use white wine or champagne yeast. I get mine at Tri-State Distributors in Moscow.)


Using a funnel (with cheesecloth filter if desired), pour 6-7 tbs. of ginger juice into the jug, followed by the lemon juice. Using the dry funnel, add sugar and yeast. Fill jug with approximately 4 quarts of water. Be sure to leave 2-3 inches of air space to allow for expansion due to build up of carbon dioxide as the yeast “eats” the sugar.

Cap the jug and shake/swirl the contents until the ingredients are mixed and the sugar is dissolved.

Let the jug stand at warm room temperature for 48 hours. After 48 hours place the jug in a refrigerator to stop fermentation. Chill it until it’s good and cold, then pour yourself a tall glassful with ice and a lime wedge. Enjoy!


I prefer to use a glass jug, rather than, say, a one-gallon plastic milk jug. I place it into a plastic 5-gallon bucket with a tightly fitted lid, reasoning that if I am unable to retrieve and chill the ginger beer after 48 hours and the bottle should burst, any resultant mess would be contained. Earlier this year I experimented with the 48-hour window by letting the ginger beer ferment an extra 12 hours, thinking it would add a little more “bite.” When I went to retrieve the jug from the pail, I found a depressingly delicious-smelling batch of ginger beer swirling around shards of glass at the bottom of the bucket. Lesson learned. Stay with 48 hours’ fermentation at room temperature and you’ll be fine.  If you’re concerned about a bottle explosion the first time around, after 30-36 hours you can open the cap to release a little CO2, then recap tightly for the remainder of the fermentation time.

These days I also prefer to use a little less sugar than the recipe calls for, maybe 1 3/4 cups instead of 2. It makes for a drier taste that I prefer.

After your first batch, you may wish to make modifications to suit your taste. I’ve recently been experimenting with adding spices to the mix.  Last time I made a gallon, I added a pinch each of cardamom, dried orange peel, and ginger powder.  It was tasty!  Today I made a half recipe, adding a nip each of cardamom, dried orange peel, ginger powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper.  We’ll see how it turns out, but I’m optimistic.

A breakthrough!  Last time I made a batch, there was quite a bit of leftover ginger juice.     I decided to pour it into a snack-size zip-lock plastic bag and freeze it, happy at the thought that it would save me a step and the extra clean-up next time. Eureka!  So last time I went to the store to buy ginger root, I bought a pound of it, and after making today’s batch I had 5 baggies of ginger juice to freeze – enough for another two-and-a-half gallons of ginger beer in the coming weeks.


 The food processor makes quick work of shredding the ginger root to a pulp.
'The food processor makes quick work of shredding the ginger root into pulp.'
Place your nut milk bag over and into the bowl, then empty all the ginger root pulp into it.
The nut milk bag has a drawstring closure.  Pull it tight and squeeze, wringing out as much juice as you can into the bowl.
Because I ended up with twice the amount of ginger juice needed,
the rest went into a snack-size zip-lock baggie for next time. It froze perfectly.
Pour the ginger juice into the gallon jug, followed by the other ingredients.
And this is the finished mixture, shaken-not-stirred, ready to sit undisturbed to allow the yeast to eat the sugar, producing the magic fizz. After 48 hours, the jug will be placed in the refrigerator until very cold. Your ginger beer can be enjoyed over the next week or so (if it lasts that long). Non-alcoholic ginger beer is delicious all by itself, over ice with a slice of lime, but you also can use it as the base for a variety of tasty adult beverages, such as a Dark N’ Stormy or a Moscow Mule.
Posted in Beverages, Ginger Beer, Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fishy Business: “Stop Running That Ad!”


The customer was obviously upset.  She complained to the supermarket owner:

I was listening to news talk 1150 and heard your advertisement for “Fresh Atlantic Salmon”.  I just wanted to let you know you are pushing a product that almost every educated consumer knows is garbage.

It sounds funny that on the ad it says freshly harvested and flown into Spokane. You must think people are ignorant to what farmed salmon actually is.

Please stop pushing farmed fish and go with sustainable wild salmon. You do realize the farmed salmon have up to five times the legal antibiotics in their fish meal than what is allowed by FDA for beef?

Having ads like this really show marketing ignorance towards consumers.

It was signed “Educated Consumer.”

Now, this store also sells wild-caught Pacific salmon – the “right kind” according to the complainant – on a regular basis.  So the problem isn’t their failure to respond to their customers’ preferences.  It’s their failure to embrace this lady’s particular worldview.  And how does one respond to that?

(Sigh.)  You can’t please everybody.

I’ve been fortunate in that this advertiser has given me wide latitude in writing and producing his radio commercials from the beginning of our relationship.  And over the years his commercials have generated plenty of positive feedback from customers and peers in the business community (one of the advantages of doing business in a small town).  They also have won awards and given him recognition by his peers in the grocery industry.

More importantly, his ads have brought him business.  Local shoppers know what sets Dissmore’s bakery, meat, produce, fresh seafood, and other departments apart, because their radio commercials have effectively conveyed these distinctions.

Variants of the commercial in question have aired on local stations for the past six or seven years.  Here’s the current version:  

So, when the owner showed me what this particular listener (who may or may not be a customer) was complaining about, we discussed how he was going to respond to her.

I asked him, “How well does Atlantic Salmon sell in comparison to the rest of your seafood items?”  He got on his computer and called up the department’s sales figures for the last 12 months.

In terms of overall unit volume, Atlantic Salmon is #2, right behind fresh Pacific oysters, which are sold by the dozen(s) at a time.  Not surprising they should lead this metric.

But by the more significant criterion, dollar volume, Atlantic Salmon proudly heads the list.  It’s their #1 seller in the seafood department.

Imagine that.

Evidently, consumers like farm-raised Atlantic Salmon – well enough to make it the most popular single item in the seafood department.

I say again, you can’t please everybody.  No matter how hard you try.

But isn’t it nice to know that your radio advertising is working?











Posted in Advertising (General), Awards, Branding, Business, Communication, Consumer behavior, Copy, Copywriting, life lessons, Management, Positioning, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Sales & Marketing, Shop Local, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Selling Soap (Meet My New Friend, Duke Cannon)

I made a new friend this past Christmas, thanks to my wife. His name is Duke Cannon. Duke sells soap, about which we’ll talk more in just a bit.

250px-Pears_New_ShapeDid you know that Soap-selling has a storied history? Andrew Pears (b. 1770) is credited with inventing the world’s first transparent soap.  The soaps of his day often contained arsenic or lead and were harsh on the skin. Pears’ experiments with glycerine and other natural products led to the development of his signature transparent bar soap, to which he added fragrance “reminiscent of an English garden.”  His soap became an immediate success in England and found a large market in the United States as well.

Fast-forward a couple of generations. The founder’s grandson, Francis, and great-grandson, Andrew, are now running a well-established family business.  In 1864, an enterprising 23-year-old named Thomas J. Barratt joins the firm as bookkeeper, and the following year marries Mary Pears, eldest daughter of Francis, becoming a full-fledged partner in the firm.

He takes over the firm’s advertising, increasing their annual ad budget from £80 in 1865 to as much as £130,000.  According to adman Faris Yakob,

Barratt is on record as saying “Any fool can make soap. It takes a clever man to sell it.” When he finally took over control of Pears he raised his expenditure on advertising to between £100,000 and £130,000. In justification he never tired of pointing out that he was enabled to sell soap 30 per cent more cheaply than if he had not advertised it.

Did you catch that?  He was “enabled to sell soap 30 per cent more cheaply” because of the increased volume of sales that followed the increase in his ad budget.

Barratt, sometimes called “the father of modern advertising,” recognized the value of a good slogan and created one for his product: “Good morning. Have you used Pears’ soap?”   That little ditty remained in use well into the twentieth century.

Eager to establish the Pears brand as the embodiment of quality and good taste, Thomas procured the rights to a number of works of art to repurpose as advertisements for Pears Soap.  One220px-Bubbles_by_John_Everett_Millais220px-Pears_Soap_1900 of the most famous, a painting by John Everett Millais entitled “Bubbles,” (far left) was turned into a memorable advertisement simply “…by adding a bar of Pears soap in the foreground. Millais was said to be unhappy about the alteration, but could do nothing since Barratt had acquired the copyright. Barratt followed this with a series of adverts inspired by Millais’ painting, portraying cute children in idealised middle-class homes, associating Pears with social aspiration and domestic comfort.  Barratt also made effective use of testimonials, recruiting both scientists and glamorous high society figures. He also established Pears Annual in 1891, in which he promoted contemporary illustration and colour printing. In 1897 he added Pears Cyclopedia, a single volume encyclopedia.”  (Wikipedia)

Thomas Barratt died in April 1914. Afterwards, Lever Brothers took an interest in the company.  Today Pears Soap is made by Hindustan Unilever in India, and is sold in supermarkets and drug stores worldwide.

So, back to Duke Cannon.  From the moment we were introduced, I could tell that Duke prides himself in being a “man’s man.” As he put it, in his time:

…men pursued meaningful endeavors.  They worked with their hands.  They took pride in the things they built, not the things they bought.  And the mindset was simple: men wanted to win, not find the “win-win.”

And then the whole metrosexual trend came and screwed men up even worse.

Now exists a generation of men who have spent more time in a Pottery Barn store than a hardware store.  Hell no.

Duke Cannon’s signature product is, and I quote: A Big Ass Brick of Soap.  It’s three times the size of a regular bar of soap, modeled after the rough cut, “brick” style of soap used by GIs during the Korean War and is manufactured in the same plant that was the primary supplier of military soap for over 20 years.  (And, the company says, a portion of the proceeds of each product sold benefits U.S. veterans.)

Furthermore, it’s designed to meet the high standards of hard working men who want to get clean & smell good without using feminine shower gels and accessories.

My wife gave me two bricks of Duke Cannon soap for Christmas.  The first one I opened was a blue box that reads: “BIG ASS BRICK OF SOAP – Smells Like Naval Supremacy.”




The second brick came in a white and green box and proudly proclaimed that it “Smells Like Productivity.”  It further explained that this was soap “for the early rising man who leads a life of productivity.”  That sounded so promising, I immediately opened the box and put that big ass brick of soap in the shower, where “with a hint of menthol to cool the skin” it would wake me up so I could get things done.  I was pleased to learn that it also has a fresh mint smell and contains steel cut grains for maximum grip. And that’s important, ’cause if you drop this sucker on your foot, your next stop will be the Emergency Room to repair crushed metatarsals and phalanges.

So, I have to admit, I like Duke.  I like the fact that he stands for something and isn’t afraid to say so.  He doesn’t care to be all things to all people, because he knows that that road leads to mediocrity and a flaccid brand.  He’s also quick to tell you what he doesn’t care for, and in so doing etches his brand in sharper relief on the tablet of your mind.




A brand is defined both by what it includes and what it excludes.  So, if you were to visit Duke’s Facebook page (yes, he really has one), you’d read that Duke Cannon products are proudly made in the USA “for hard-working men.”  On the surface, you’d think he’s just written off the female half of the population.  And you’d be wrong.  Even though he’s not selling to women for themselves, he most certainly is selling to women for their men. Remember, Duke wasn’t on my radar until my wife gave me two bricks of his soap. (Pressing her for details as to how this came about, she explained that a magazine she reads, REAL SIMPLE, had put online some suggestions on Gifts for Guys.  She went, she saw, she bought.

Now you might get the idea that Duke generally dismisses shopping as a stupid waste of time. Au contraire. Not all shopping is stupid, only shopping that doesn’t involve buying his products.  He wants you to come back for more.  So, Duke has created a rewards program for his best customers. In his words:




When you visit his rewards page, you’ll find a variety of manly choices, including:   1986 Topps baseball cards, duct tape, sandpaper, an extension cord, spark plug, flat head wood screws, Kingsford charcoal, Weber grills, even a 21″ Viper black steel expandable military baton for dealing with hardheads.  Does this guy understand promotion or what?

I believe there are big things in store for Duke Cannon.  As of now, you can only find his products online.  I’m lobbying my friends at Pullman and Moscow Building Supply to make a full-court press to become exclusive local retailers for Duke Cannon Supply Co. products, mainly because I think they’ll find it a profitable addition to their offerings, and I’m so taken by the brand, I want to help spread the word. (OK, I wouldn’t mind saving the cost of shipping and handling, either.)

Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Bricks of Soap have so far exceeded my expectations, I’d be proud to shill for them.

Hey, Duke.  Need some radio ads?  I’m your guy.  Let’s sell some soap!

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Consumer behavior, Copy, Copywriting, Internet, Jingles, life lessons, Madison Avenue, Magazine, Newspaper, Positioning, Problem-solving, Productivity, Radio Advertising, Sales, Slogans and taglines, Storytelling, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“If I don’t go, I don’t get”

After an extensive Internet search, I’ve concluded that I may beWarner Swasey American Business Ads_FRONT Cover in possession of the only extant copy of the Warner & Swasey Company’s remarkable collection of American Business Ads, published under the title:

“1776-1976 What has really changed?”

These 92 examples, culled from the 1000 or so ads that Warner & Swasey ran between 1940 and 1976, offer an instructive glimpse into the history of their corporate branding.  More significantly perhaps, they constitute a primer of sorts on the virtues of free enterprise, honest labor, responsible management, and unabashed love of country.  As I read through them again, I’m deeply impressed by what Warner & Swasey stood for.

Let me illustrate with one of my favorites:Warner Swasey American Business Ads_P92(1975)

Bold headline, evocative story, thought-provoking lesson…about us, as individuals and Americans, and not so much about the company or its products.  Whether or not the reader had any use for a turret lathe with numerical control and program editor (small blurp in the lower right-hand corner), it’s hard to imagine anyone being unmoved by the ad’s principal message.  “If I don’t go, I don’t get.”

Gutsy and high-principled, evidently reflecting the core values of the owners of this successful company.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to dust the cobwebs off this blog, resume writing about things that interest me, and then share them with you.

Would you like to see more of these gems from the Warner & Swasey collection?  Let me know.  If enough folks are interested, I’ll take the time to digitize them all and make them available for downloading.

Meanwhile, I wish you all the best in the coming year.



Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, life lessons, Magazine, Management, Newspaper, Positioning, Print, Productivity, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Slogans and taglines, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy

Robert Louis Stevenson (Knox series, Wikipedia)

Robert Louis Stevenson (Knox series, Wikipedia)

Robert Louis Stevenson, no stranger to pain and suffering, has often been cited as the author of these 12 exhortations on How to Be Happy.

Whether his or not, the principles are worth consideration:

1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortune that befalls other people.
4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.
6. Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
7. Never borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.
8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish jealousy, enmity, grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.
10. Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things.
11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Here’s another and perhaps more personal perspective on giving thanks when life is hard, shared by my daughter today. If it strikes a chord with you, pass it on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Best Steak Marinade Ever…Again (New Recipe!)

What's YOUR favorite cut?

What’s YOUR favorite cut?

A couple years ago, I shared a steak marinade recipe that I picked up from a fellow Big Green Egg fan at a local Eggfest, that was especially good on cuts like tenderloin, sirloin, and anvil or flatiron steaks.

In that post I also wrote about the difficulty of finding a well-marbled steak in our part of the country (eastern Washington), where USDA Select and grass-fed beef seem to be what people are looking for.  In particular, I singled out Safeway for pulling all their USDA Choice beef steaks as they were ramping up their “Rancher’s Reserve” branding program.

However, Safeway was recently purchased by Albertsons (itself owned by Cerberus Capital Management) and among the changes they’ve been making in the store is a return to selling USDA Choice grade beef.  It’s a step in the right direction and I hope this signals an improvement in their steak offerings.

Still, finding a well-marbled steak remains a challenge, and there are times one must settle for “b-a-d” – the best available deal.  In the hope of improving the flavor of some ribeyes that fell into that category, I came up with a surprisingly tasty variation of the previous recipe, wanting not so much to color the flavor of the steaks as to simply intensify their natural beefiness.  Here’s the recipe for my rib steak marinade.  It’s simple and astonishingly good.

Rod’s Ribeye Marinade for less marbled steaks:

1 tall can Guinness Stout
2 shots Bourbon whiskey
1 generous teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Half-teaspoon coarse black pepper

Whisk ingredients together and pour into 2-gallon size zip lock baggie(s) with steaks.  Will marinate 6 steaks.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Elk Steak

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Radio Is Dead. Long Live Radio.

CBC’s “Under The Influence” radio program, hosted by Terry O’Reilly, recently devoted an entire show to illustrate, in Mr. O’Reilly’s words: “…the incredible creativity happening in radio advertising around the world today.”

First stop: Hanover, Germany, where a music school used radio to recruit top music students by making their email address invisible to all but those with perfect pitch.


According to O’Reilly:

There is a music school in Frankfurt, Germany called the University of Hannover Academy of Music.

It is an elite school for musicians.

Hannover wanted to recruit specific people: Those with “perfect pitch.”

If you have perfect pitch, it means you can identify a specific musical note without any other external assistance or context.

If you think that’s easy, try it now: Sing an “A” off the top of your head.

Only one in 10,000 of us can do that.

In Europe and North America, some studies suggest that less than 3% of the population can do it. Yet, 98% have absolute colour recognition.

That’s how rare Perfect Pitch is.

So the University of Hannover’s Music Department wanted to recruit people with perfect pitch.

But how could they do that on radio?

By doing this:

Because people with Perfect Pitch can identify every note on the musical scale, the Hannover School of music communicated to them in a way only they would understand.

The music notes spell out the school’s email address.

It was an ingenious use of radio because it did two things:

One: It gave the school heightened awareness and spoke to the creativity of the school. And two: This commercial became the first entrance exam.

Only those with perfect pitch would pass the test by emailing the school.

It was a huge success for the university. Allowing them first crack at the most talented crop of new students.

All done with the innovative use of radio.

Clever, no?

But this is just the tip of the Snickers bar.  Stay with the program and you’ll hear about how all the radio stations in Puerto Rico switched formats one morning to sell that candy bar.  And how Colombia used music on radio to communicate with kidnapped soldiers and send them a message of hope.  And, back in Germany, how radio achieves a new level of intrusiveness in reaching drivers with a powerful Don’t Drink and Drive message.

Terry O’Reilly understands the power of radio – the power of sound, and of human connection.  In response to the question, What’s going to happen to radio?  he replies:

I’m always amused by that question, because the subtext is that radio is in trouble.

To that I say – radio is the ultimate survivor.

It was the first-ever broadcast medium, and it went on the air way back in the 1920s, both in Canada and the United States.

Warren Harding was the first American President to speak on public radio in 1922, and Prime Minister Mackenzie King was the first Canadian leader to be broadcast in 1927.

Radio seemed like a miracle – because it the first time an entire country could hear a live sound at exactly the same time.

Since then, radio has survived the competition of motion pictures, television, VCRs, PVRs and now, the internet.

If I had to put my finger on why radio has survived, I would have to say because it is such a “personal” medium.

Radio is a voice in your ear. It is a highly personal activity. People rarely listen to radio in groups, the way an entire family might sit in front of the television, or go to a theatre to see a movie.

Radio is local. It broadcasts news and programming that is mostly local in nature. And through all the technological changes happening around radio, and in radio – be it AM moving to FM moving to satellite radio and internet radio, basic terrestrial radio survives into another day.

And in the world of advertising and marketing, radio continues to be incredibly innovative.

A couple of my favorite illustrations from the program had to do with Radio’s tackling of the problem of breast cancer.   Every October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), many radio stations join the worldwide effort to educate their listeners about this disease.

In Israel, radio stations got together with the Israel Cancer Association and did something highly creative.

8am is the highest peak of listenership on morning radio. More people tune in at that hour than at any other hour of the day. And as a result, advertisers pay the highest rates in that time period.

On October 30th, at 8:05am, radio stations in Israel did something they had never done before.

All morning shows broadcasted out of the right speaker only.

They did that to convey the idea of what it is like to lose one breast, to lose one part of a whole.

And to achieve maximum reach of that message, every radio station in the entire country silenced their left speaker simultaneously at 8:05am:

Every station assured their listeners they weren’t hearing a malfunction, that the one-channel broadcast was intentional to bring awareness to breast cancer, and every station urged women to get tested. The project was called “The Day Radio Went Mono.” It generated tremendous awareness, and press in all other mediums wrote hundreds of stories about it. But here’s the important part: The amount of help-line calls increased by 98%. And mammography testing increased by 24%. Extraordinary results – generated by the creative use of radio.

Meanwhile, over in Malaysia, a radio station was tackling the topic of breast cancer in a different way. BFM 89.9 is a radio station in the city of Petaling Jaya that focuses on business news – hence its slogan, “The Business Station.” Working with the Breast Cancer Society of Malaysia, BFM 89.9 wanted to reach their listeners in a unique way during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. The radio station has a highly educated, successful business audience, but research showed that same audience ignores basic cancer awareness messages. So BFM 89.9 chose to break the rules of radio. They interrupted their regular business news with breast cancer awareness messages – but did it by incorporating those messages seamlessly into their news reports, delivered by the newscasters themselves. Read in exactly the same style:

To BFM’s listeners, it must have come as a shock to be listening intently to business news then suddenly hear that rolling nipples between the thumb and index finger is a way to check for lumps and indications of pain. It was that last line you just heard that makes this campaign so effective. Not only does it give men and women direction on how to check for breast cancer, it highlighted one of the most important aspects of breast cancer: That it can come when you least expect it. It was a brave and incredibly creative way to communicate to an audience that ignores the usual breast cancer messages. And the degree of difficulty was high, because the format of an all-business station makes it difficult to do something fresh and compelling. It was simply a radio idea that was impossible to ignore.

Impossible to ignore. 

Reminds me of Tony Schwartz’s famous observation about God’s gift to Radio: He created human beings without earlids.

Herein lies the real secret to Radio’s power to move people: its intrusiveness, combined with the fact that speech is man’s primary form of communication (whereas print is an imitation of speech).  Three decades ago, David Ogilvy circulated a memo to his employees.  It contained ten points on How to Write.  Writing well was non-negotiable if you expected to go anywhere at his agency.  Point #10:  “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

And that’s something at which Radio continues to excel.

CLICK HERE for full transcript of Terry O’Reilly’s “Under the Influence” broadcast, Radio is Dead.  Long Live Radio.
Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Consumer behavior, Copy, information overload, Internet, Ogilvy, Problem-solving, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Production, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not What You Get, but What you Become

John_Ruskin_-_Portrait_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17774He said: “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

He also, more famously, said:

“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey.”

John Ruskin (born on this date in 1819) was an artist and art critic, a  writer and philanthropist, and a prominent social thinker.  His observations concerning humanity and commerce endure to this day and continue to inspire entrepreneurs and marketers alike:

“Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.”  (Good advice for an ad writer.)

“He who has truth at his heart need never fear the want of persuasion on his tongue.” (Ditto.)

“I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don’t mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.” (Mercy is a characteristic sadly lacking in too many instances today.)

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.”

“A book worth reading is worth owning.”

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Happy Birthday, John Ruskin.  Your lamp shines ever more brightly with each new year.

Posted in Communication, Consumer behavior, Copywriting, life lessons, Productivity, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Lawyers

Feedback from Clients

It should not surprise you that my favorite business success stories are those having to do with the client’s skillful use of radio advertising.

I never tire of these stories nor fail to learn something useful when reviewing them, whether the successes involve my clients or others.  As I type these words I’m still basking in the glow of a telephone conversation with a relatively new client this afternoon.  Nik told me that his business has enjoyed three record months in a row, coinciding with the launch of a new radio testimonial campaign that we created for him (the only variable in the equation).

My colleagues know that I’ve been a devoted student and fan of Roy H. Williams (aka “the Wizard of Ads”) for the past fifteen years–devouring his weekly memos and best-selling books, audio and video recording, and more recently participating in monthly video meetings with him.  So, I was pleased to read in the January 21st edition of RadioINK magazine a piece Roy had originally published in his Monday Morning Memo of December 24, 2012.  It details a marvelous success story, specifically that of a lawyer who has built his practice using Radio. Even better, it is presented in contrast to the story of another lawyer who, instead of using Radio, chose to spend his marketing money online using pay-per-click advertising.

The contrast is not altogether one of media choice, but also one of priorities.

One attorney chose to focus on his message, rather than his audience; the other thought it more important to “reach the right people.”   Which one won?

You’re about to find out.  Enjoy the article, reprinted with the Wizard’s permission.

A Tale of Two Lawyers

I recently spent a day with two lawyers who practice the same legal specialty. We’ll call them Nick and Ralph. They live on opposite sides of the country. They met at a conference and became friends.

Nick read my books, attended Wizard Academy, and decided to go fishing for customers with a net. He put his money in radio.

Ralph thought it made more sense to target only those people in immediate need of a lawyer within his specialty. Ralph went fishing with a hook called Pay-Per-Click.

Ralph said, “Nick, you’re hunting with a shotgun. I’m hunting with a rifle.” Ralph believes in targeting, you see. That’s why he fishes with a hook and catches just one fish at a time. But you don’t build a widespread reputation by waiting until your customer needs you and then targeting them through Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click.

Nick the Net chose to win the public before they needed his services. Nick the Net wanted everyone in the city to know about him, even if many of them would never need his services. Nick the Net chose to win the hearts of the people 52 weeks a year.

Ralph the Hook, by the way, practices law in a trade area that offers 22 times the potential of the area served by Nick the Net.

Both men are smart and aggressive. They plunged. Hard.

Ralph the Hook spends $180,000 per month on Search Engine Optimization, online marketing consultants, and locally targeted Pay-Per-Click. His annual ad budget of $2,160,000 brings in slightly less than $6 million per year in legal fees, leaving Ralph with a little less than $4 million for gas money. Not bad.

One year ago, Nick the Net was spending $30,000 per month on radio. His $360,000 ad budget brought in $1.4 million the previous year in legal fees, leaving Nick with a little more than $1 million to spend on lunch.

NOTE: Nick brought in 1/4 as much money but spent only 1/6 as much on ads.

And then Nick asked me to begin writing his ads. This year he and I brought in $4.2 million with that same $30,000/mo. ad budget.

About 6 weeks ago, Nick said he wanted me to add another $20,000/mo. to his radio budget. I said, “Not yet. First we need to improve your close rate.”

“But we’re closing 30 percent of the people who call us,” answered Nick, “Ralph the Hook is closing barely 10 percent of his online leads.”

When you advertise 52 weeks a year on the radio, you become a household word. Yours is the name the customer thinks of first and feels the best about. The leads brought in through radio are much warmer than the leads generated through pay-per-click.

“Nick,” I said, “our close rate should be up around 60 percent. Bring all the people who answer your phone to Austin for a day of training.”

Nick brought them to Austin for a day. They listened. They learned.

At the end of the day, Nick drove his people to the airport and sent them home to answer the phones. Nick then returned to my office with his buddy, Ralph the Hook. As a favor to Nick, I spent a couple of hours with Ralph. Ralph, of course, only wanted to know “how to choose the right radio station.”

Ralph the Hook still believes that “targeting the right customer” is the secret to growing a business.

But Nick and I believe in building a widespread reputation with a warm predisposition in the hearts of the general, untargeted public.

What do you believe?

Common sense says targeting would be more efficient, right?

My thirty years of experience say otherwise.

One last thing: Nick’s telephone team is now closing more than 60 percent of all incoming leads. This means Nick the Net will likely do $8.4 million in 2013 with no increase in ad budget and no increase in sales opportunities.

Release the Kraken.

Roy H. Williams
PS – In case you’re wondering why I turned down the additional $20,000 ad budget per month, here are the reasons:

1. We’d picked all the low-hanging fruit with $30,000 per month. In other words, we were already buying all the radio schedules that offered us a good value.

2. An increase in the budget would elevate our frequency (repetition to the same listeners) much more than it would increase our reach (new listenership.) In other words, a 67 percent increase in the ad budget wouldn’t reach 67 percent more people, but only about 10 percent more. This is due to “cume duplication,” a fancy phrase that refers to the fact that most people listen to more than 1 radio station. If we added more radio stations to our list, we’d just be reaching the same people more often.

3. My income is not tied to the size of the ad budget, but to the percentage that my client grows each year. So my only concern is the growth of my client. What I have to do to achieve that growth doesn’t matter. Not to me. Not to my client. In this case, I could invest a day with his people and make a much bigger difference than I could make by throwing more dollars at media. – RHW

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Client-voiced commercials, Communication, Consistency, Consultants, Copy, Copywriting, Internet, Pay-per-click, Professional Services Advertising, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Professional Voice-over and Narration for…Five Bucks?

girl at mic sharpThe post at Radio Sales Cafe, from a Chicago-area radio guy, read:

“5 DOLLARS! Check me out on FIVERR”

Intrigued and a bit skeptical, I clicked on the link.

Sure enough, there he was.

Chicago-area radio announcer will cut your :30 or :60 second radio commercial for only $5. I am heard on stations all over the U.S. and Canada. Lively, energetic voice who delivers with precision and believable style. I have a professional studio — with the ‘tightest-sounding’ room — and can deliver in one day. YOU MUST PROVIDE A SCRIPT. I DO NOT WRITE SCRIPTS. You’ll get an mp3 or .wav FAST! — and ON-TIME! BROADCAST QUALITY GUARANTEE!

Now, I have a few friends who make their living as voice-over artists, and I’m pretty sure that none of them works for five bucks a pop.

I also know a bunch of Radio production guys and gals. For them, five bucks a spot can add up to $50-100 an hour, provided they can get enough work – and that’s an attractive perk.

A quick glance at the voiceover/narration directory at Fiverr revealed page after page of posts from people willing to sell their small service for five bucks.  Well, four bucks net, after paying what amounts to a 20% commission to Fiverr.

Other specialties offered at the site include graphic design, logo creation, musical jingles, translation services, speech-writing, market research…more than 100 specific services are listed, in addition to all the things that fall under the heading of “Other.”

Have to admit, I’m curious to see what five bucks buys in some of these categories. (Seriously, logo creation for $5??  Love to see some examples.)

Sellers of services aren’t the only ones with Fiverr accounts.  There’s also a list of requests from service-seekers:

  • swing_line needs:1940s – 70s looking drawing and/or graphics for banner and more

  • thementalhealth needs:Promote a charity project on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

  • foxyroxy63 needs:voice over a video in the voice of David Letterman

  • marketman needs:Create advertising video with desktop computer as a prop

  • swg1cor14 needs:assist in finishing a hotel/flight booking engine. Just the design and layout

  • dinobia needs:Create an app for my UK hair salon using AirBop.

  • surprised needs:instruct how to add a border to my page and fit my header on my website

The creators of seem to be doing very well with their inventive service. Evidently, so are some of the people offering their services there.  According to one testimonial, “To say Fiverr changed my life is a huge understatement.”

fiverr_logo-This is going to be one to watch, for sure. Betcha five bucks they’re on to something.

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Consultants, Copy, Copywriting, Disclaimers, graphic design, Jingles, Problem-solving, Productivity, Professional Services Advertising, Promotions, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Radio Sales Cafe, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized, Voice Acting, Voiceover | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment