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Last week on my Facebook page I posted a brief blurb for radio copywriters.

A longtime friend of mine who’s one of the best copywriters around took exception to my advice.

It might be helpful to share with you here my original statement, my friend’s objection, my rebuttal…and an additional rebuttal for today’s readers.

The Original Radio Advertising Maxim

Radio advertising copywriters long have been told, “Don’t sell features; sell benefits.”

Wrong.

Don’t sell features or benefits.

Sell the results the consumer will experience by using the advertised product or service.

One Reader’s Objection

Paul Myers, a copywriting legend who’s been at it since before the invention of the written word, replied:

“The expected change in state IS the benefit, Dan. [sigh]”

My Devastating Rebuttal

No, the expected change is not the same as the benefit.

To illustrate….

Feature: The all-new PoundsAway contains Miodyoxide-104, which speeds the human body’s metabolism.

Benefit: By increasing your body’s metabolic rate with PoundsAway, you’ll lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks.

Result: (Female) Now you can go shopping for a new bathing suit to wear at the beach this summer.*

Result: (Male) Now you won’t have to spend your entire summer vacation** holding in your stomach.

(*More than one source has explained to me that “shopping for a new bathing suit” is a far greater motivator than wearing a new bathing suit. Otherwise, I would tout the result as “now you can wear even your most revealing bathing suit on the beach.”)

(**“Vacation” is a term that few radio people will understand. If I knew what it meant, I would tell you.)

One More Feature – Benefit – Results Example

Often in my radio copywriting seminars I’ll offer this illustration…. 

Feature:  The automobile has four doors.

Benefit:  Because the automobile has four doors, it’s easier for people to get out of the backseat more easily and quickly.

Results:  So when you’re picking up your kids at school, they’ll be able to climb into the backseat so fast that the impatient carpool parent behind you won’t even have the time to honk at you before you’re driving away.

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Dick Orkin Famous Radio RanchI believe this was the first video I ever attempted.

I featured it once before on this blog, but that was shortly after I had launched the blog in 2008, and as I recall all 7 of my readers quite enjoyed it.

In this video, Dick Orkin’s longtime Creative Director, Christine Coyle, takes me on an impromptu tour of the Famous Radio Ranch, from which so many wonderful (and wonderfully entertaining) commercials have come.

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A SKEPTICAL AD COPYWRITING LESSON

Here’s a radio commercial copywriting lesson taken from a direct mail piece.

Recently I received a letter from the Skeptics Society, inviting me to attend a 3-day conference.

Although the left third of the envelope has lots of stuff — return address, 10 thumbnail photos, text intro to the block of photos — your eyes immediately are drawn to this doggie command:

“Compare the expertise of our speakers to those at any other conference.”

I have but one question regarding the marketing for this event:

“Are these people insane?”

Is that how they believe people select a conference to attend — based not upon the topics covered, information to be learned, contacts to be made but rather upon whether there is any other conference, anywhere, devoted to any area of interest, whose speakers have expertise at least equal to this conference’s speakers?

Let’s assume that people attend such a conference because they want to learn something.

1. Have you ever encountered someone who is expert in his/her field but you’d never want to have to listen to?

2. Have you ever encountered someone who is expert in his/her field but is a poor communicator?

3.  If the ideas around which the Skeptics Society coalesce appeal to you, will you be less likely to attend their conference if you discover another gathering devoted to…oh, say “Electrical Engineering,” and that conference has guest speakers whose expert credentials are more impressive than those of the Skeptics Society’s speakers’ credentials?

A cursory review of the speakers’ bios indicates there’s not a single Nobel Prize winner among them. Meanwhile, that Electrical Engineering conference might have two, maybe even three Nobel Prize winners. So, I guess we all should go to the Electrical Engineering conference, huh?

Much of the expertise of the speakers at this conference is substantiated by their many appearances in the media — hardly proof of “expertise.” Although to be fair, one of their outstanding speakers “was a scientific consultant for Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

If there’s anyone reading this who thinks  Star Trek: The Next Generation represents a bastion of scientific advancement, please raise your hand. Now take that hand and — not too forcefully — smack yourself in the face.

Hey, my conference features a guy who was a scientific consultant for both Superman and Batman Returns. That’s expertise!

But wait. It sounds as though I’m mocking those guest speakers. I’m not.

I’m mocking the inane attempt at advertising the value those speakers presumably will bring to the lives of conference attendees.

Advertise the Results the Product/Service Promises.

If those expert speakers will be saying something worth hearing, they deserve an advertising campaign that captures the attention of the people who would be most interested.

Based upon this terrible, full color, multi-fold direct mailing piece…

Frankly, I’m skeptical.

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MEGHAN TRAINOR – RADIO JINGLE STAR

Pop star Meghan Trainor certainly is generous — apparently licensing “All About That Bass” for so little money that even small market, small businesses can afford to use the song in their commercials.

First it was a burger joint in Michigan. Now it’s a heating & air conditioning company in Louisiana.

It’s not surprising that a small business owner isn’t conversant with copyright laws. After all, I wouldn’t ask an intellectual property attorney to fix my air conditioner.

But just as the HVAC company’s customers rely on the company’s expertise in installing or repairing heaters and air conditioners, the business owner needs to trust that a federally licensed radio station wouldn’t allow him to run afoul of copyright laws (while also exposing themselves to financial damages from the copyright holder).

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ONLY IF YOU REMEMBER “GIRL GROUPS”

Hot ToddiesAlthough I never especially cared for “girl groups” (The Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” being one notable exception), what I love about this recording is how faithful they are to the original form. Not even for a moment do they lose their focus or stop to wink at the audience.

That’s a great lesson for radio people who attempt to do comedy or satire on-the-air: Write it funny, play it straight.

The group is The Hot Toddies. I first heard this in 2008*, at which time I contacted them for permission to share the song on my blog.

*Hence the reference to “Ask Jeeves.” And, for that matter, “DSL.”

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