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Four Ways to Tune Into Your Radio (Yes, Radio) Listeners

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With all the buzz about social media, it’s easy to forget the tried and true advertising tactics like radio advertising. But radio can be a very cost-effective and action-inducing method of connecting to new customers and re-connecting to those who already love your company.

Of course, there are good radio spots, and then there are great radio spots. You want the latter. That takes some planning, extra effort, and a willingness to invest a little bit of time and money to do radio right.

Here are four tips to turn bland radio spots into memorable ones.

1. Make listeners feel something. We buy everything based on emotions. Everything. From toothpaste to our accounting software.

Too many radio spots, however, are heavy on facts and light on emotions. That doesn't mean that every spot has to be funny. Humor is very memorable, but not every subject lends itself to a side-splitting radio spot.

Tap into your audience’s emotions. Remind listeners how it feels to fall in love, be afraid of the IRS, or have everyone forget their birthdays. Understand your audience well enough to know what emotions they experience regularly, so you can either enhance good emotions or eliminate bad emotions.

2. Slow down! Most radio spots sound like they are trying to put five pounds of potatoes in a one-pound bag. Great radio takes its time. It allows the actors to create a character. It makes time for pregnant pauses and the smart use of silence.

A good rule of thumb is 150 to 165 words for a 60-second spot and about 75 to 80 words for a 30-second spot. Remember to leave room for disclaimers, taglines, and company IDs.

3. Make your contact info memorable. This is one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to radio spots. Odds are that if someone is listening to the radio, they’re also doing something else, such as fixing breakfast, getting the kids ready for the bus, driving home from work, working out, or doing laundry. Radio is a wonderful companion for all kinds of tasks.

However, when a person is doing any of those things, they are not in a position to write a bunch of stuff down. Don’t give them your phone number, street address, a coupon code, or a laundry list of things to do to get the special offer.

If you want people to contact you, make your contact information easy to remember. That might be a phone number like “222 and then four more twos.” Or a Web address like “cut my gas bills in half dot com.” But if you have a normal phone number, a company name that’s hard to spell, or a Web address that isn't intuitive, don’t waste your few words on them. People won’t remember them anyway.

Give people's brains some sort of handle to grab onto until they have time to follow up.

4. Don’t cheap out. Writing and producing radio spots is an art. Just because you listen to the radio that doesn't mean you’re ready to be an advertising copywriter. Invest in a copywriter and good voice talent. If you’re only spending 10 to 15 minutes in the studio recording your spot, you can rest assured that it’s not going to be the best radio spot ever.

You’re spending a lot of money buying the radio time. Shouldn’t you also spend time making sure you’re running something worthy of that investment?

Now that you’re in the know, go make some good radio. I’ll know which ones are yours. They’ll be the ones I listen to.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Young Woman Listening to Radio)


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Drew McLellan's a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating "a ha" moments for his clients, clients' customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.

Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.

Drew writes at his own blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute and several other hot spots.

He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books with Gavin Heaton and he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Shoot Drew an e-mail.

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  • by Caitlin R. Mon May 7, 2012 via blog

    Very insightful article!

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