The Big 5 for Radio Success

(Part 1: Just have a conversation)

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Note: We will be announcing the winner of the Palme de Merde contest next week. A huge thank you to everyone who entered. At last count, we were up to 58 entries. If you didn't make this one, don't fret, I'll figure out another contest that includes the coveted Red Lobster gift card 3rd place prize.

Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Through the evolution (and continued evolution) of my perspective on radio/audio content and advertising, I have managed to aggregate many different opinions and positions on what works. I've also understood the real value of simplifying things to get to the core of what it good. Admittedly, I had a phase where quantum physics would have been easier to understand than some of the pitches I gave. In my experience, I have seen some radio pitches and programs that include a great deal of waste.

Creatively, I caught myself overcomplicating things by throwing in elements that require far too much effort without any real value. I'm all for doing something different and unique, but I have found that focus is far more important. So after 12 years of rousing successes and horrible gaffes, I have managed to ascertain what, in my opinion, makes for good radio/audio advertising:
  1. truth (duh)
  2. entertainment
  3. storytelling
  4. emotion
  5. conversation
I conveniently call this the Big 5. When these five elements are in place, they generally lead to some level of success. Of course, it's folly to think that all of these will always be in play all the time, but the goal is to get as many of them in there and aspire to, at some point, have them all working together. This week, I'll nudge the idea of conversation forth.

Like most people, I don't really dig chores, and cleaning the bathroom is somewhere near the bottom of the list. My biggest nemesis has always been the tub or shower and its delightful combination of grime and soap scum. From my Sigma Alpha Epsilon days to today, I have tried every combination of spray, bleach, scrubber, potion and lotion. I even had one experiment in 1993 that could have put me at odds with the EPA.

This past weekend, the guest bathroom was on my list. I opened the cabinet to find a number of sprays that did nothing to assuage my pessimism. (For reference, I have this habit of buying too many cleaning/household products. This would explain the eight gallons of deck cleaner and seven bottles of toilet cleaner we proudly own.) However, nestled in the corner was a box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I have no recollection of when I bought them, but there they were. Since I was in a foul state of mind, I reluctantly pulled them out and assumed that they would be the sponges that would just push some liquid around the basin. The instructions were ridiculously simple: wet, squeeze, wipe. I had to ask my wife if she thought this was right. Was I supposed to put something else on it? Why is there no "scrubby" thing on one side? I was confused.

What followed was a borderline miracle. Magically, (as the name of the product attests) everything was coming off in one easy wipe. I was dumbfounded and incredibly excited. Years of pent up frustration over manic scrubbing washed forth in my proclaiming, "Holy s**t!! This is amazing! Jill, come see this!" Not only did I tackle the guest bath, I happily took care of the master bedroom shower and all of the sinks in the house. It was the cleaning equivalent of a Festivus Miracle!

This is where the conversation happened. As we were driving to play tennis, we started talking about the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I was still in shock and awed by the power of these bricks of cleaning goodness. After a couple of minutes effusively extolling the merits of the product, Jill turned to me and said, "This would make a really good radio spot." She was right.

Conversation is natural. Forced "conversational" copy is not. The dreaded "slice of life" approach is even worse. When it's natural and real, it makes an impact and can keep people's attention. Easier said than done, I know. But try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It not only gets your bathroom sparkling clean, but it may shake the creative tree for other projects you're working on.
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