Killer Endorsement Spots:
Advertisers’ (and Your) Best Buds

| September 14, 2012

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI –  Even with Google now sucking SO many local advertising dollars away from legacy media, local radio can still be local retailers’ best friend, and that’s not an opinion.  Data from the Radio Advertising Bureau and elsewhere continues to demonstrate that radio is, mathematically, the most efficient way to tell-a-lot-of-people-something.  And being the #1 in-car medium, we can still reach consumers closest to the cash register.

And your relationship with listeners can be a powerful bond.  Radio is an intimate medium, with decades of cred’ to the two generations which control most retail spending.  So the local DJs and talkers who will survive the ongoing bloodbath do so by being more than just voices.  Properly applied, the trust you have earned with listeners can sell-sell-sell, in a way that makes Arbitron numbers irrelevant.

As that thing in your pocket (which we used to call “a phone”) demonstrates, whatever we’re attempting to convey is competing with lots of other messages for the listener’s attention.  So when it comes to endorsement spots, technique has never been more important.  In this agonizingly gradual economic recovery, consumers remain challenged making-ends-meet.  Ditto for advertisers.  So it’s imperative that your pitch convey specific benefits.

Example: Recently, I heard spots touting that an insurance agency has been in business since 1957.

  • Certainly that’s evidence that they must be doing something right…but it’s too subtle.  And it’s talking about the advertiser, not the customer.
  • And, demographically, it’s missing the mark.  2012 – 1957 = 55.  Yes, the coveted 25-54 demographic is finally being debunked; and 55+ Baby Boomers do control most of the USA’s wealth.  But 40-somethings with children at home are retailers’ bull’s eye.  Say “1957” to them, and it sounds like “Roosevelt.”  What’ve you done for me lately?
  • What’s the insurance agency’s problem?  Internet competitors, who are heavy national and online advertisers.
  • What’s the benefit of using a local agent?  Service.  There’s a real-live human being, right here locally.  And who can convey that better than a trusted local like yourself?

“HOPEFULLY, YOU’LL NEVER GET IN AN ACCIDENT!  BUT THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT ‘INSURANCE.’  AND IF YOU DO NEED TO FILE A CLAIM, MARY BETH AND HER STAFF ARE RIGHT HERE IN SPRINGFIELD, AND WILL HANDLE EVERYTHING FOR YOU, QUICKLY.  IT’S WHAT THEY DO.  WHO DO YOU CALL IF YOU GOT YOUR INSURANCE ONLINE?  FLO?  A LIZARD?”

Too often, live endorsement spots I hear include client name-dropping that doesn’t connect-the-dots to a customer benefit in the way the hypothetical above does.  With money so tight now, advertisers are more-focused-than-ever on specific Return On Investment, rather than simple brand-building.  Saying-hello-to-them-on-air won’t ensure continued business.

Another tip: Cut-to-the-chase.  The most common point of tune-out is at the beginning of a commercial.  So don’t spend too much time setting-up the spot.  Make the very first sentence a grabber.  I write lots of spot copy, and always try to say “YOU” or “YOUR” in the first sentence, a question if possible.

Another tip?  Work both sides of the brain.  Don’t dismiss this as mumbo-jumbo.  One brain hemisphere processes facts, the other processes feelings.  Flex both, and you’ll have the listener’s scalp tingling.  Example: live read I heard for a supermarket, a 3-location local legacy brand, slugging-it-out against the big chains:

  • For the RIGHT brain: The DJ described how-something-he-purchased tasted.  I could almost picture the drool on his chin when he confessed to biting-into a ripe peach, right there in the store.  And I chuckled when he presented the pit, and paid for it, at check-out.  And calling it “FARM-FRESH” added subtle urgency, by making availability sound like a brief perennial opportunity.
  • For the LEFT brain: Tout some pedestrian aspect of the shopping experience.  You’ll resonate by mentioning how quickly you were able to check-out.  The busy, mobile young adults advertisers want to meet hate waiting.  Or if there’s a checkout aisle with no candy and no tabloids, tell soccer-mom about it.  Covered parking?  Make THAT your first-and-last line on a rainy day.  Sound relatable: “IF YOU’RE AS BUSY AS I AM, YOU WILL APPRECIATE [name of store].”

The slam-dunk: “I WAS THERE YESTERDAY!”  You won’t hear that from your competition if they’re voicetracking from the mother ship.

Final tip (I promise!): Avoid theee most common mistake I hear talent make delivering endorsement spots, and it’s real lazy: “I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU ABOUT [advertiser] FOR YEARS.”  Inference: “AND I HAVEN’T SOLD YOU YET.”

‘Hard to believe, but – as recently as ten years ago – live spots were scarce.  As radio consolidated, multi-station buys often involved the same creative airing across the cluster, a practice we now know NOT to be wise.  Some stations in the cluster don’t have any announcers.  And there was something “safe” about pre-recorded copy.  No DJ-dummy faux pas.  So if you, personally, move product, you’ll be handy to have around.  Every extra effort will be worth it.

See/hear/read more from consultant Holland Cooke at www.HollandCooke.com; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.  He will present “Database Your Tribe…NOW” at the Talkers Los Angeles New Media Seminar.

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Category: Sales