Here is Part 2 in our 2-part series on common mistakes that businesses make trying to write their own radio ads. While the first three mistakes are frustrating enough…these last four cause professional writers and producers everywhere to groan inwardly and smack their foreheads in exasperation.
THE FINAL FALLACIOUS FOUR
These four common mistakes do not violate the laws of physics (i.e., trying to squeeze 60 seconds worth of words into a 30 second spot), but they do violate the laws of good ad writing…
TOO MANY TOPICS
The number one reason for over-long scripts is that business owners want to say EVERYTHING in one ad – and the number one reason for this is that they want everyone to know they do MORE than just A, B or C… they also do X, Y and Z! But even in the off chance that one manages to get all the info into a comfortable 30 second script, there’s no way any one of those points could be compelling. You’ve got brief mentions of several different services or products lumped together…what is the listener supposed to take away from that? It’s far more effective to focus on one thing that they can latch onto - really drive home how “A” benefits your listener and why you deliver on “A” like no one else does. B, C, X, Y and Z should each get their own ad. Use one ad to make one compelling point. Don’t use one ad to make several un-compelling points.
LEADING WITH A QUESTION
Tired of high prices? Tired of being treated like a number? Wish there was a better way? While the answer to these questions is probably “yes,” this approach to opening an ad is tired, cliché and immediately narrows the number of listeners. For example, some people may happen to be in the market for a new home – but for everyone else, as soon as you start your ad with something like “Looking to buy a new home?” if the answer is “no,” the rest of what you have to say will be automatically dismissed. It’s better to speak to everyone, house hunting or not, and just proceed with the specifics of how they will benefit by buying a home from YOU – because at some point they will be in the market for a new home so you want your message to reach them too.
TREATING YOUR COMMERCIAL LIKE AN ADD SHEET LISTING
“…Find Columbia Furniture Warehouse and Emporium at seven four three fifty-one Coventry Circle Drive, that’s seven four three fifty one Coventry Circle Drive, over by the O’Riley’s next to the Mall in zip code six five two zero three! Or you can call us at five seven three, three nine five, seven five six two! That’s five seven three, three nine five, seven five six two! Remember: get thirty-nine percent off on all merchandise from Monday, January twenty first from nine thirty am to eight fifteen pm at seven four three fifty-one Coventry Circle Drive!”
What a waste of script space and air time. No one – we repeat, NO ONE has a pen and paper in their car at all times for the purpose of pulling over to the shoulder of the highway to write down all the numbers and details the announcer just rattled off like an auctioneer…. assuming they caught it all. Your offer would have to be WAY more compelling than it probably actually is to warrant such attention. If the offer is literally a large sum of FREE MONEY if they just call a certain number in the next 10 minutes, then maybe they’ll memorize the number. Otherwise, all they need to know (and will bother to remember) is your business name and how they benefit from what you sell. If they’re interested, they’ll find you.
“TWO PEOPLE TALKING”
Why business owners go straight to the “two people talking” concept when they’re writing their own ad, we may never know, but more often than not that’s what happens…
“Hey Charlie – that’s a nice couch. Where’d you get it?” “Why thank you. I got it at Columbia Furniture Warehouse and Emporium at seven four three fifty-one Coventry Circle Drive, that’s seven four three fifty-one Coventry Circle Drive, over by the O’Riley’s next to the Mall in zip code six five two zero three. Or you can call them at five seven three, three nine five, seven five six two. That’s five seven three, three nine five, seven five six two. Right now, you can get thirty-nine percent off on all merchandise from Monday, January twenty first from nine thirty am to eight fifteen pm…”
Do business owners really think this is how people talk? Worse, do they think that’s how WE think people really talk? Even two really talented voice actors could never portray these types of scripts in a realistic way. “Two People Talking” pretty much only works if it’s a humorous sketch, is well-written and well performed…a task best left to experts.
LET THE PROFESSIONALS HANDLE IT
For the same reason that most businesses hire an attorney to handle legal matters, or an accountant to handle financial matters, they should hire professional ad writers to handle advertising matters; the professional ad writer just might have some information that the business owner isn’t privy to. We’re not talking from a place of arrogance – just experience. Effectively telling your story and reaching potential customers is its own science…and something the award-winning writers and producers at Zimmer Communications know a lot about!