Invisible Radio (Guest Blog)

  • After the show, I took an offsite meeting with a business prospect in an over-saturated radio category.  When I asked, “What’s the one thing that makes your service different?” I was told, “Nothing.  We’re exactly like everyone else in the space.”

    A marketer’s worst nightmare, right?  No Unique Selling Proposition.  No proprietary offer or incentive.  Nor any hint of interest at suggesting any kind of differentiation.  In fact, the opposite was encouraged, as if our media buying magic wand would make their campaign instantly profitable in an already-overcrowded marketplace.

    This is where the need for real creativity in radio advertising kicks in.  How do you take a played-out message to market and still deliver results?

    Often times, the path is blazed or razed in the first few seconds of the radio commercial, when listeners decide whether or not to pay attention to the rest of the message.

    What is the very first thing your prospect will hear?  A question?  A challenge?  A traffic-stopping statement?  Music?  A sound effect?

    And who will deliver that message?  A man?  A woman?  A child?  A trusted friend?  An authoritarian figure?  Will it be one voice?  Two voices?  A chorus?  A talking gecko?

    Will the message be delivered as a monolog?  In dialogue?  Via a musical jingle?  In rhyme or rap?   A cadence-bending mashup of sound and speech that will command attention and inspire recall?

    Happily, these infinite options present endless ways to take “the same old message” and make it memorable.  “Copy smart” is good.  “Smart copy” with an ear-grabbing twist is better.

    But there’s a fine line to walk between creative that motivates and creative that simply entertains.  The former justifies your investment and returns profitable revenue.  The latter kills campaigns, leaving otherwise successful marketers to ponder why their competitors are still on the air when, clearly, “radio doesn’t work.”

    Best advice?  Go slow.  Test deeply.  And be sure to craft your message in such a way that it gets noticed and remembered.  There’s no shortage of ideas, only the need to choose wisely and create a system that helps you identify and optimize what works.