RADIO ADVERTISING PRINCIPLE: SENSE OF URGENCY
by Dan O'Day
Unless you're doing "Institutional" or "Image" advertising -- which ad
agencies love but which usually are bad investments for advertisers --
your advertising should have a clear Call to Action. This is especially
true for local retail advertising, which is the lifeblood of commercial
Contrary to popular belief, a "good" commercial is not one that wins
awards. It's not one that everyone tells you they love. It's not even
one that the client tells you he loves, nor the one your audience hums
A "good" commercial is one that motivates the listener to act on the
To go to the automobile showroom and test-drive the
To sample the fragrance at the department store's perfume
To pick up the phone, dial the toll-free number, and request
the free information booklet.
(As David Ogilvy said, "Don't tell me you love my ad. Tell me you
bought the product.")
There is nothing as powerful as a Sense of Urgency to motivate
people to act. (That is why it is far easier to sell a cure than it is to
sell a prevention.)
"Limited supply" -- if genuine and if communicated convincingly -- can
lend a sense of urgency to a sales offer. (Think about past holiday
seasons when parents frantically ran all over town, searching for the
nearly-impossible-to-find "Tickle Me Elmo" or "Cabbage Patch" dolls.)
The limited supply might refer to the product itself. Or it might refer
to some sort of bonus and/or Gift With Purchase.
Another very strong incentive to act is embodied in a deadline.
In the U.S., we are required to report our income to the Internal
Revenue Service. For individual taxpayers, the annual deadline for
filing their tax returns is April 15.
Based upon a completely nonscientific survey I've made of people I've
met in life, I'd estimate that 43% of American taxpayers mail their
income tax returns on April 14 or 15.
Why do they wait so long?
Is it because April 15 is just too darned early in the year? If income
tax returns weren't due until, say, June 15, would everyone file their
returns in May?
No. They'd file on June 14 or 15.
Because true, enforceable deadlines are among the strongest
motivators known to humans. (I don't suppose you've ever stayed up
all night finishing a school report...or a sales proposal for which
you've had weeks during which to prepare.)
The following is not a deadline:
"With prices like these, you know they won't last forever!"
"Hurry, this sale ends soon!"
A deadline is:
"Friday night at 9."
"Tomorrow at Noon."
Grocery stores understand this. Odds are the supermarket you
patronize has weekly "specials." They probably begin on Thursday and
expire the following Wednesday. They don't advertise their
"storewide savings." Instead, they offer something of genuine,
measurable value -- a great bargain -- for a very limited time.
Week after week after week.
To motivate grocery shoppers to return to their supermarkets week
after week after week.
The more you can educate your clients regarding the wisdom of
making genuine, valuable special offers with deadlines, the more
money you can make for them.