The Speech Therapist In Your Pocket

You and I take the sounds of our words for granted. We don’t even give them a second thought.

Having learned our alphabet as kids (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, possibly our earliest exposure to the power of a jingle), we gradually picked up a vocabulary, adding to it a few words at a time.  And now, we speak effortlessly and instinctively.

But not all of us.  

Consider kids with speech disorders.  For them, learning to speak clearly can be a daunting task.

The development of communication skills begins in infancy, before the emergence of the first word. Any speech or language problem is likely to have a significant effect on the child’s social and academic skills and behavior. The earlier a child’s speech and language problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems will persist or get worse. Early speech and language intervention can help children be more successful with reading, writing, schoolwork, and interpersonal relationships. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)

Chances are you know someone who has struggled with a communication difficulty, whether that be a lisp, a fluency problem, or trouble pronouncing certain sounds. With the help of a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist, their problems were met and often overcome.

photo courtesy Pullman Regional Hospital

But it’s not just kids who need this help.

People from other countries come here to pursue an education or career opportunity. English is not their first language. And even though they’re committed to learning to speak it fluently, they sometimes find it difficult to wrap their heads around certain sounds.

Hey, so do we. When was the last time you heard a group of non-native English speakers, speaking in their native tongue? Here in our college town, it’s not unusual to encounter, say, Asian or Middle Eastern students holding an animated conversation in Chinese or Arabic, for instance. What we hear are sounds, not words. So, put yourself in their shoes.

Whether the cause is physical or cultural, the fact remains: some folks need help learning to pronounce English sounds correctly.

And that’s where this story begins.

Enter Keri Jones, speech expert.

A speech pathologist at Pullman Regional Hospital, Jones has developed a breakthrough application for anyone needing to learn to pronounce English sounds correctly. It’s called Speech Sounds Visualized.

There are 26 letters in our alphabet, from which are derived 44 phonemes or sounds that form the basis of our speech communication. These fall into three categories: consonants, vowels, and blends. Speech Sounds Visualized provides an easy, convenient way to learn these sounds by watching, listening, and speaking.

Back in December, as Keri was finalizing work on the various components of her app, getting everything ready to send to the developer for final coding, she decided that the app needed a male voice to balance her own. One of her colleagues, a mutual friend, telephoned me to ask if I’d be willing to record a list of words for her. I was glad to help.

After countless hours of work by Keri and a team of project partners, including Pullman Regional Hospital, the PRH Center for Learning and Innovation, and Gemiini Educational Systems in Spokane, developers of innovative learning tools for people with autism, Down Syndrome, stroke victims, etc., the app went “live” last month in the Apple iTunes Store.

It’s already getting 5-star ratings and enthusiastic reviews, with only limited marketing to date. Everyone involved has high hopes that it will take off.

I’ve lost track of all the commercials and audio features I’ve recorded over the years, but it’s unlikely that I’ll soon forget this, my first contribution of voice work to a project that has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people struggling to learn to speak English. For them, Speech Sounds Visualized will be “the speech therapist in their pocket,” and I’m honored to have been able to make a small contribution to its success.

Thank you, Keri. And congratulations on bringing this dream of yours to fruition.

We can’t wait to see what happens next.

______________________________________________________________

Additional resources:

Steve Stone’s blog on Speech Sounds Visualized

Moscow Pullman Daily News article (unfortunately, the full article is behind a paywall, available only to paid subscribers)

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website 

Keri Jones’ profile on LinkedIn

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Putting Your Phone Number in a Radio Ad is a Bad Idea. Here’s Why.

Why you shouldn't put your phone number in your radio commercialYou’re not one of those advertisers who puts their telephone number into their radio ads, are you?

Good. Didn’t think so. Because you know better.

You chuckle at the mental image of somebody pulling over as they’re driving down the road, scrambling to jot down your number.

You know that there are seven to ten other words that would serve your marketing goals far better than that string of seven to ten numbers, right?

Seriously, unless you’re a direct-response marketer whose business is conducted principally or exclusively by phone, there really isn’t a good reason for you to waste valuable airtime by sticking your phone number into your commercial. (And if you are one of those businesses, you’re much better served by having a “vanity” number that employs a mnemonic device to aid in retention, e.g., 1-800-FLOWERS.)

Generally, your ad should contain one point of contact, not several, and then only if it’s absolutely necessary. Might be the physical location of your store or office, but these days a better choice may be your website*.

There was a time when “Let your fingers do the walking” meant using the Yellow Pages to look up a business. When was the last time you did that?  Today, we Google that information, or we ask Siri or Alexa to make the call. Today’s World Wide Web has eliminated the need to remember a phone number.

When was the last time you heard an ad for WalMart, Home Depot, Geico, McDonald’s, or any major retailer or brand? How many of them included their telephone number in their ad? Why do you think that is?

For the majority of marketers, it’s far more important to get people to remember your name than your phone number. And it’s infinitely more important for a prospective customer to know why she should do business with you, what she should think or how she should feel about doing business with you, than it is to know how to reach you. Because once she knows who you are and what you stand for, once she’s convinced that she wants to do business with you, finding you is easy.

Are there exceptions? Of course there are. If you operate a pizza delivery service, having a memorable phone number is a good idea, so that whenever someone feels like pizza for dinner, they can call you (and get put on hold until the person answering finishes with a previous caller). But even pizza joints are gradually moving toward online or mobile ordering with an app; this will eventually reduce the need to use the telephone to arrange a pizza delivery.

Other good examples: emergency services (Think: “Call 911”). A hospital emergency room or urgent care provider might benefit by having dedicated, listener-friendly phone number. Ditto local taxi cab companies, HVAC emergencies, and plumbers. Ken Paulson has for the past year been training Pullman area residents to remember his phone number by means of a catchy jingle. (“Clear that drain with one call. Call 3-3-8-oh-8-2-4. Ken Paulson. Ken Paulson Plumbing.”) When you’re ankle-deep in water down in your flooded basement, it’s nice not to have to look up his number to call for help.

Music can be a powerful ally in getting people to remember your business, without even trying. Right from the time we memorized the alphabet as kids, singing it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, we’ve effortlessly learned thousands of songs, motion pictures, products and brands, thanks to the irresistible influence of their music.

Should you have any doubt about the effectiveness of music for local businesses or brands, just ask Steve and Theresa Myers, Devon Felsted, Don Frei, Kevin Peterson, Archie McGregor, or Sam Dial to share their experience.

In a recent discussion among radio advertising professionals around the country, my buddy Blaine Parker related this experience:

We once tried to convince a new retail client to NOT put a phone number in a commercial because it would reduce traffic to the store. They had a “super secret sale” going on. Their first commercial said, “Just come into the store, say ‘Super Secret Sale!’, and get 20% off anything in the store.”

The first week of the sale went gangbusters. The client also said, “But we’re getting all these phone calls. We need to put the number in the spot!” We said, “No, you don’t. They found your phone number without it being in spot. You’re good. Add the phone number, and you’re going to kill response.” They wouldn’t listen.

The phone number went into the spot. As predicted, the phone number clouded the message. Traffic dropped off precipitously. The client walked away saying, “Radio doesn’t work.”

Sometimes, you can’t save an advertiser from himself. As for phone numbers, they are death for retail and any other message where the call to action is “come in.” The ONLY reason to include a phone number in a radio commercial is that it’s the only way to take advantage of the offer being made to the listener.

Carl Quist, proprietor of Imported Car Service in Pullman, has been advertising consistently in the morning news on one of our stations for many years. He could end his commercials with his phone number, since virtually all his customers call him on the phone to schedule service appointments. But he chooses not to. He knows that they can find his number quickly by asking the Goog. So, what does he choose to say in those final few seconds of his commercial, instead of giving his phone number? “Drive an import? Get to know Imported Car Service. On Bishop Boulevard in Pullman.” (Incidentally, his phone number is (509) 332-2314 – in case you’d like to ask him how his advertising is working.)

So, if your telephone number has been part of your radio commercial without a compelling reason, whether through inertia, laziness, or misguided advice, take it out. Replace it with words that will serve your business better.

*Brent Walker, an audio advertising specialist, provides additional perspective in his video, Think Landing Page, Not Phone Number. (You might be asked to sign up for a free account at Marketing Profs to view it. It’s worthwhile.)

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Copy, Copywriting, Jingles, Professional Services Advertising, Proofreading, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Slogans and taglines, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Picture-Perfect Palouse

The Picture-perfect Palouse – a slideshow featuring photos of the Palouse, captured while on drives and walks in Palouse Country throughout the year.  First-time visitors to the Palouse region describe our unique Palouse landscapes as peaceful, tranquil, different from any other place they’ve seen.  If you would truly understand the beauty of the Palouse, you must visit the Palouse…drive its paved roads and dirt roads (some 2000 miles’ worth)…and discover its charms. Until then, please enjoy these Palouse photos – just a small sampler of our Picture-Perfect Palouse.

 

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A Modest Proposal for Radio

  •  Do Most Radio Ads Suck?

    Jeff Sexton is an ad writer, and a damn good one.

    He occasionally teaches ad writing at Wizard Academy and is himself one of the Wizard of Ads® Partners. I subscribe to Jeff’s blog and heartily encourage you to do so, too, in the interest of challenging you to stretch and sharpen your communication skills.

    In my email today was Jeff’s latest post, “Why Most Radio Ads Suck?”  In it he compares and contrasts national-quality radio and tv spots with locally-produced radio and tv spots and argues that it’s easier and more affordable for a local advertiser to obtain high-quality radio commercials and campaigns than it is to get the same quality in a tv spot or campaign. He asks, What’s holding local radio back? and cites three reasons:

    1.) Radio stations have largely abandoned theater of the mind.

    2.) Most stations no longer have dedicated copywriters.

    3.) Most stations give away free production

    And that third observation resonated deeply with me, as I have long believed that if we, as an industry, embraced this model (as television has done from the beginning), the largest cause of our self-inflicted injuries would cease to exist.

    Sexton writes:

    If you view production as a cost center rather than a profit center, you try to squeeze as much productivity out of the production team as possible.

    And that means giving away free production as a deal sweetener to boost sales.

    Which results in an overworked production team that has little time to do anything but produce crappy ads as fast as possible.

    But what if you valued production enough to charge for it?  What if you felt that the quality of ads you ran reflected the quality of your radio station itself, and you’d be ashamed to run an insipid, badly produced ad?

    You can laugh, but such an approach has been done before and it worked like gangbusters.

    But here’s the rub? You can’t tack on production costs at the end of a sales pitch.

    You have to bake the value of production into the sales pitch from the get-go.

    Unfortunately, no stations seem willing to do that.

    Some years back, we had a vigorous discussion on this subject in one of our Friday Polls here at RSC. I’d be curious to know what folks think about that idea today. Should we, as Jeff Sexton suggests, “bake the value of production into the sales pitch from the get-go?”

    When I approached the station owner many years ago about adding a production fee to our rate card, to cover the costs of creating commercials that involved more than 30 minutes of writing and production time, he was reluctant to make that a policy. But he did say that I was free to negotiate my own arrangements with clients for whom I was going to do this kind of work – so I did. Still do. And when the spot or campaign calls for a true, non-announcery voice actor, I make the case for it. I have yet to have a client refuse to do this, once he understands the value proposition.

    You get what you pay for. Or, as Jim Williams-trained salespeople will remember him preaching: “A thing is worth what you pay for it.”

    Our national radio leaders, trainers, and industry observers have been telling us for decades that we need to provide our advertisers with better commercials. And we always agree with them. But we don’t always follow-through. Advertisers themselves make it easy, when they’re so willing to accept those chest-thumping platitudes that make them feel good about themselves, but do nothing to inspire their customers.

    So, it was good to read Jeff’s take on all of this – and I happen to agree heartily with his conclusion:

    So, yes, most radio ads do suck.

    But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

    Radio just needs to get its mojo back, if only its leaders would find the courage to make it happen.

    998 posts

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Casting Talent, Client-voiced commercials, Communication, Consistency, Copy, Copywriting, Problem-solving, Professional Services Advertising, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Radio Sales Cafe, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling, Uncategorized, Voice Acting, Voiceover | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoroughbred Radio Ad Campaign Races into Hall of Fame

One of my very favorite advertising campaigns of all time has to do with horse racing.

And life, laughter, and modern culture.

It’s DeVito/Verdi’s brilliant “And They’re Off…” campaign, winner of multiple advertising awards over the years, including their induction earlier this month into the Clio Hall of Fame.

Here’s one of the commercials from the long-running campaign, winner of the $100,000 grand prize in the 2006 Radio Mercury Awards.

If you haven’t heard this one before, you should probably swallow that sip of coffee or soda before you hit the play button.

Crazy, huh? A vivid moving picture, painted entirely with words, comes to life in your imagination.

One voice. No music. No sound effects (until the tagline).

Pretty amazing, when you stop to think about it.

The campaign has stayed true to its premise over many years, demonstrating the value of consistency in advertising. (Another good illustration: Tom Bodett and Motel 6.) Every commercial has followed the same approach. According to the press release from DeVito/Verdi:

…a fast-talking announcer provides running play-by-play of an everyday outing or happening with the same brio as if he were calling an action-packed horse race. Invariably, all of these events fall short of the excitement and thrill of visiting a thoroughbred racetrack.

“Sushi” (above) and “Dinner Date” were my two favorites among all the ads I’ve heard for NTRA. Until yesterday, that is, when I ran across this spot, “Gym.”  I’m pretty sure it’s a guy thing, but listening to it had me laughing out loud.

Here’s something you should take away from this campaign. There’s no way you could this in video or print. Only in the realm of pure audio, where imagination is given free rein (so to speak), can ads like these be pulled off.  It’s pure theater-of-the-mind.

Want to hear more from the NTRA campaign? Click the play button below.

Posted in Advertising (General), Awards, Branding, Business, Communication, Consistency, Copywriting, Positioning, Print, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Slogans and taglines, Storytelling, Voice Acting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Testimonial Ads Earn High Marks from the Wizard of Ads®

Most people reading this blog know who Roy H. Williams is. The Wizard of Ads®, founder of Wizard Academy and the American Small Business Institute, author of the best-selling Wizard of Ads® trilogy and co-author with partners Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg of Be Like Amazon (Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It). He dispenses his wisdom weekly in his long-running free newsletter, the Monday Morning Memo.

A year ago, I was asked to update the tags to my client Clearview Eye Clinic’s testimonial commercials, to introduce the new surgeon who’d joined the practice. I had misgivings about messing with the commercials that had taken so long to put together and were working well. So, I decided to enlist the help of Roy H. Williams and wrote to him in advance of the August 16, 2016 “Wizard of Ads Live” webcast (now rebranded as the monthly videos of the AmericanSmallBusinessInstitute.org).

His generous response blew me away.

I’ve written before about testimonial advertising, how it’s painstaking work to do it right and have the people come across as real and genuine, not contrived. Even if what they’re saying is true, if it sounds contrived or uncomfortable the ad will not have the desired effect. When you hear these ads and the people come across as authentic and believable, know that a great deal of work went into putting these stories together.

Rather than telling you what he had to say, I’ll let you hear it from the Wizard himself. Thanks to Daniel Whittington of Wizard Academy for allowing me to share the video.

 

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Help Wanted: Have a Job to Fill? Attract More, Better Applicants with Radio Advertising

Losing a key employee sucks. It’s also inevitable.

Sooner or later, most often when you least expect it, your MVP is going to drop the bomb: she’s moving on.

You’re going to need to fill those shoes, and fast.

What’s the best way to attract your next superstar? Hire your local radio station.

Many years ago, when newspaper was still King of Local Advertising Media, your automatic response might have been to place a Help Wanted ad in the classifieds and wait for a response. And wait. And wait some more, becoming increasingly discouraged by the shortage of suitable applicants.

The problem? Help Wanted classifieds, by definition, are for the unemployed, often the chronically unemployed, and those unhappy with their present situation.

Whereas the superstar you need isn’t unemployed, isn’t looking for work, ergo isn’t scanning the Help Wanted ads.

She may be working for a competitor. Or she may be working in a different field, in a comparable position. But even though she’s not looking for a new job, she might consider a better opportunity were she to hear about it.

How’s that going to happen? Well, if one of the people in her circle of friends and associates knows about the opening, it could come up in conversation.

Or, you could advertise the position on your local radio station and create the conversation.

Putting your recruitment advertising on radio will reach more prospects and influencers, faster and more effectively, than anything else you can do.

The result? You’ll find and hire your superstar sooner, minimizing the strain on your business, not to mention your mental and emotional well-being.

Consider radio’s advantages over other media:

Reach. Radio’s vast weekly reach (91% of adults) is superior to that of any other medium. Can you say “opt-in?” Radio is the ultimate opt-in advertising medium!

Frequency. Radio gives you multiple opportunities throughout the day to reach listeners with your message.

Intimacy. Radio is highly personal. It’s a conversation between the host and listener. They share a connection.

Intrusiveness. Tony Schwartz said that radio’s biggest advantage is that people are born without earlids. People hear your ad, without making any effort to do so.

Polite company. Radio keeps you company without being a distraction. You can listen while you’re driving, jogging, gardening, or any number of other things. That’s a unique advantage pure audio has over visual media.

Imagination.  On radio, pictures are more personal; the experience, more real. Because pure audio engages the imagination better than any visual medium.  On radio, anything’s possible.

Time Spent Listening. People spend more of their day with radio than any other single medium, including broadcast TV, satellite TV, local cable, and the Internet.*

Car radio. It’s almost a separate medium; as Chris Lytle famously observed, “A car is a radio on four wheels.” Prospects traveling to and from their jobs in their vehicles are a captive audience. Can you think of a better time and place to tell them about your opportunity? 

Spotlight.  On radio, your ad is like a spotlight shining on you and you alone, for a full 30 or 60 seconds. (Whereas in newspaper, you’re surrounded by competing ads. Maybe they’ll spot yours, maybe they won’t.)

Timing.  You can choose when your commercials will air. If you can swing it, I recommend a higher frequency schedule, at least 10-15 spots a day, every day for 10 days to 2 weeks. The cost of this schedule is far less than the cost of a prolonged vacancy to your business. But if you can’t afford to do this, “own” something. At the very least, buy a couple spots in morning or evening drive, every weekday, and talk to listeners on their way to and from their jobs.

A Launchpad to Your Website.  Your radio advertising opens a conversation that you and your prospective candidate can continue at her convenience online. Use your website to elaborate on the details: compensation, benefits, work environment, opportunity for advancement, your company’s reputation, etc., etc.  One client I worked with was concerned about the time it would take to deal with a flood of applicants. I suggested that we create a “knock-out” online questionnaire, a sort of pre-application that would allow the business owner to prescreen all the candidates. Those who stood out would be brought in for a thorough interview, leading to the selection of the best-of-the-best. (This may sound a bit harsh for those who don’t pass initial muster, but in reality, it’s more respectful of their time as well as the employer’s. And all who take time to apply are thanked for doing so. ) This combination of radio advertising to attract candidates and the website application to pre-screen them has worked very well. I recommend trying this.

Here are a few additional suggestions to help make your recruitment radio advertising more effective:

  1. Use current employees in the commercials, but: Do. Not. Script. This. Seriously. If they sound at all forced, even though they’re being truthful, they’ll come across as contrived. Instead of scripting them, just turn on the recorder and have a conversation with them. Get them talking about their typical workday, its ups and downs, the variety of things they do during the day, the people with whom they interact. Ask them to share what they like best about the company, what attracted them in the first place and what keeps them interested. What would they say to a friend who might be applying for work at the company? Keep it conversational and keep it real, then incorporate the best soundbites into the commercial. This is time-consuming and painstaking. And uniquely effective.
  2. Skew your advertising to run more heavily early in the week. Generally speaking, fewer ads are scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, compared to the rest of the week. But there are not fewer listeners on those days. So, your early-week ads will reach the same number of people, and there will be less competition for their attention. Also, people are more focused on work-related matters early in the week. Toward the end of the week, they’re focused on how they’re going to unwind on the weekend.
  3. Use a single point of contact for responding. These days, your website is best. Avoid the temptation to include your phone number, street address, and the kitchen sink. Your website carries all that information and a lot more.
  4. Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list relating to the job, to address your expectations as well as your prospects’ concerns. It’ll save you both time in the long run.
  5. Use respected community leaders in the commercials, talking about how great the company is, its involvement in civic affairs, its contributions to the betterment of the community, etc. Again, make sure these endorsements sound sincere and genuine. They’ll help raise the stature of the employer in the eyes of the prospective employee.
  6. Think about where your ideal candidate might already be employed and make mention of that in your commercial. Here’s how one of my own clients worked that into the message: 
  7. Make the company or the job sound like fun by using humor – but make sure the humor really works, and that it serves the message rather than calling attention to itself. Here’s a great example used by Pizza Hut a few years back: 
  8. Build the spot around the candidate, rather than the company. Good advertising isn’t about the advertiser; it’s about the advertiser’s customer. Describe the prospect using language she would use, talking about the things that are important to her, then bring the company into the picture. A company recruiting assemblers began its message by saying: “You like working with your hands. You’re good at putting things together. You take pride in the things you build…”
  9. Target by message, not demographics.  What I mean by this is, don’t agonize over the format of the station (trying to reach the “right” people); instead, focus on getting the message right. For example, say you’re a beer distributor in Ohio, looking for a delivery driver. Instead of placing a lifeless classified ad (“Wanted: beer delivery driver. Must have CDL. Wage and benefits DOE. Apply at…”), you decide to do something a little more fun:  Think that message might find its way to the right prospect? The right message will find its way to the right people. Just ask The Wizard.
  10. Use radio to keep your pipeline full.  Attract qualified applicants even when you don’t have an immediate vacancy. Invite interested parties to get on an inside track to employment at your company–a pre-screened waiting list, if you will–so that when an opening occurs, your next hire is already in the breech. Consider airing a “This Week at (Your Company)” feature; use it to salute employees, commemorate milestones, thank customers, or even remind people about community events, etc. If your local radio station airs a community calendar, consider sponsoring it. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind and make people both inside and outside the company feel good about it.

You might want to print this post and keep it handy. Because sooner or later, you’re going to be blindsided by the sudden departure of a key employee. That’s when you’ll want to enlist the help of a powerful ally, your local radio station, to help you find and hire your next MVP, sooner.

*Share of Media Consumption table courtesy Radio Advertising Bureau

Medium Avg. Minutes Per Day % of Total Media Time
Radio 142.3 21.5%
Internet (No e-Mail) 113.2 17.1%
Broadcast TV 95.3 14.4%
e-Mail 87.0 13.2%
Local Cable 84.7 12.8%
Billboards* 53.1 8.0%
Newspaper 44.6 6.8%
Satellite TV 40.6 6.1%
Total Media 660.7 100.0%
The Media Audit, January 2012 – March 2013 -Radio’s Share of Time Spent with Selected Media -Average Minutes per Day (Adults 18+)- Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding *Billboards based on time spent driving

 

 

Posted in Advertising (General), Business, Client-voiced commercials, Copywriting, Internet, Newspaper, Print, Problem-solving, Professional Services Advertising, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, recruitment | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For All Your [Fill-in-the-Blank] Needs

cli·ché (noun) – a phrase that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought

Just for fun sometime, make a mental note of all the ads you encounter that contain these five words: “for all your __________ needs.”  

Every time you hear or see that phrase, know that the copywriter was on auto-pilot. It is simply the most insipid, threadbare, worn-out, uninspired, unoriginal, vapid, meaningless, and useless phrase in all of advertising.

While by no means the only cliché upon which too many copywriters lean to fill time or space, it does top the list.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I stumbled across a remarkable website created by Larry Fuss, owner of Delta Broadcasting, for the benefit of radio advertisers and radio advertising professionals alike. It was a page entitled FOR ALL YOUR STUPID CLICHE NEEDS.

I’ve often wondered how the phrase became so ubiquitous. Did the new advertiser or ad writer assume, because they’d heard it used so often by so many different businesses, that it must be important to include it in their own advertising? Or were they, as my friend Larry so bluntly put it, just being “incredibly lazy?” (In the interest of full disclosure, having been an ad writer for more than 40 years, I’ve foisted my share of this drivel upon listeners, too. Hopefully less often these days.)

Some clichés seem to attract certain categories of advertisers. Automobile dealers, for example, are overly fond of this one: “There’s never been a better time to buy!” Does anybody really believe this? Of course not. Not even when the announcer is shouting it with a reverb effect to boost the hype.

In one ear and out the other.

So why do they continue to use these ridiculous, overblown claims in their advertising?  Why do advertisers insist on saying things like: “Never before and never again will prices be this low!” only to inform you the following week that their big whoopdedoo is being “held over by popular demand?” 

Please, please, please give consumers credit for being smarter than that.

The typical car buyer goes into the dealership having done enough research online to know as much about the vehicle she’s going to buy as the salesman who’s going to sell it to her. Same goes for most other significant retail purchases. The internet and smartphones have tilted the scales in favor of the consumer. Get over it. Today’s buyer wants the the plain truth, not hype. Just the facts, ma’am.

“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.” – David Ogilvy

If this was true fifty-plus years ago, when Ogilvy penned those famous words, how much more so today?

 

Posted in Branding, Business, Client-voiced commercials, Copy, Copywriting, Ogilvy, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Bodett, Still Kickin’ Butt for Motel 6

rmalogoIn 1992, Tom Bodett’s “Singing Phone Number” spot for Motel 6 took the $100,000 Grand Prize in that year’s Radio Mercury Awards.

Since then, his radio spots have been Mercury finalists or winners 22 more times, with another Grand Prize win in 2009 for his clever “DVD” spot.

The 2017 Radio Mercury Award winners were announced this week. Heading the list of award-winners: Motel 6.

One of Radio’s enduring success stories, Tom Bodett has been the sole pitchman for Motel 6 for more than 30 years. Throughout three decades of swirling changes in society, culture, politics, technology, and the economy, they’ve kept up with the times without changing their formula for success. One guy reading great copy, same kitchy music, same tagline: “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

Congratulations to ad agency The Richards Group, spokesman Tom Bodett, and client Motel 6. Thanks for keeping us entertained while reminding us of your promise to provide a clean, comfortable room at the lowest price of any national chain.

And to leave the lights on for us.

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How the New Business Landscape Is Challenging Tradition and Igniting Radio Advertising Sales

How long before the rest of the matches in this photo will ignite? It’s a good way to think about an emerging trend in business, including radio advertising sales.

A recent article in INSIDE RADIO talked about new and emerging prospect categories for radio.

There’s no question that the business landscape is shifting under our feet. We’ve been feeling its rumbles for years, and they’re becoming more pronounced.

Consider the “insane, retailer-wrecking” growth of Amazon.  Time reports that Amazon now has more than 80 million Prime subscribers, consumers who shell out a hundred bucks a year for a combination of entertainment (videos, music, e-books, and audio books) and shopping (2-day free shipping).

According to Jeffery Eisenberg* in a recent American Small Business Institute weekly video, Amazon is the fastest company in history to ever hit $100 billion in sales.

Of particular interest: they close an astounding 74% of their web traffic! (How’s that compare to your close ratio?) People go to Amazon prepared to spend money.

Consumers love Amazon because Amazon loves them.

“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company.” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

Recently Amazon announced the hiring of 100,000 new employees. Meanwhile, venerable stores like Macy’s, Kmart, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Target, Sears, and others are closing by the thousands in 2017 alone.

Depending on the size of your market, these changes may or may not be affecting your business today. But they will have a domino-effect (or matchbook-effect, to return to the photo illustration above) that will eventually impact all of us: consumers, retailers, and advertising companies.

Small business owners need to be keenly aware of the shopping experience they’re providing their customers. Surprise and delight must be their (and our) mantra. As Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, has been telling us, we must focus less on branding and more on bonding with our customers.

Those of us in radio advertising sales would do well to challenge our current clients (and ourselves) to ask: what are we doing to love our customers like Amazon loves theirs?

As advertising professionals, we must carve out time regularly to identify, research, and understand new and emerging trends and prospect categories. But just as importantly, we need to be bringing our existing advertisers a regular stream of new ideas to invigorate their advertising with more customer-centric messages.

It’s a practice that can only enhance our client relationships.

*Eisenberg and Williams have co-authored a new book, Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It (serialized in recent Monday Morning Memos), filled with insights gleaned from a careful study of Amazon and others, that can be applied to any business, yours included.

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Radio folk: are you incorporating pro-radio messages into your social media? Here’s an example of a Facebook cover photo/meme we’re using at Grace Broadcast Sales and Radio Sales Cafe to remind our followers of the unique power of speech-driven advertising. Feel free to copy/adapt for your own use.

God's Gift to Radio Advertising: Humans Don't Have Earlids

 

 

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