A few days ago I pulled out some of my old college radio work. I hadn’t listened to it in years. It reminded me of my first few months in radio as a producer. It’s a scary thing to be a 20 year kid in charge of creating a commercial for a business. Those ads are expensive and it’s that businesses voice to the community. When you think of it, it really is a daunting task. And I was just a newbie taking my first few swings at it. It reminds me of the first thing I did wrong. I continued to do this one thing wrong for years. And it’s the one thing that most businesses demand in their advertising.
I made radio commercials that sounded like radio commercials.
The strange thing is, the commercials I made then, were probably much easier to sell than the ones I make now. The all sounded the way people expected them to sound. That’s my first big mistake, and it’s the hardest one to correct. The reality is this mistake is always made out of fear. I was afraid to put a commercial to air that stood out. I didn’t want anyone to notice something that I produced because I could only imagine they’d notice it because it was wrong. I didn’t consider the idea that it could have been right. So, when I had an ad for an insurance agency, I used a boring financial bed, because insurance is boring and financial. When a car ad asked for a big voice with explosions, lasers, and echoed sound effects, I didn’t even question it. That’s what car ads traditionally sounded like, so they must be right.
It takes thousands of predictable campaigns and hundreds of failed campaigns to properly train writers and producers to what is truly a good advertisement.
Unfortunately, business owners suffer from the exact same fears. They want to make ads that sound like ads. That’s what they have heard from the industry and since that style is popular in the industry, it must be the right choice. It isn’t. It’s usually the worst decision you can make with your advertising budget. But fear and limited knowledge helped form your campaign and you ended up with a worthless scrap heap of limp words and exhausted sentences.
There is no business owner on earth who can afford to fail hundreds or thousands of times to find their rhythm. Often one poor campaign spells the end. That’s when bad ads create radio enemies. Clients leave dejected and talk about how radio doesn’t work. That can be absolutely true. It’s very hard to make radio work. But, it works really well when it’s used correctly. Saying the same thing as everybody else in the same way is a good example of “how not to use it.”
Beware the ordinary. Your business needs to be extraordinary to be successful. Your advertisements need to stand out to be effective. Don’t trust just anybody with your creative as well. I was a young commercial producer who didn’t know what he was doing once. There are more people working in radio who don’t get advertising than those who do. Sales people, writers, producers, program directors, sales managers. They can’t all be trusted. Some are fantastic. Some are good at making your believe they are fantastic. The easiest solution is to just send me an email on my contact page. Let’s figure out something different for your business together.