≡ Menu


radio copywriting critique of Lyft ad First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.


While none of this commercial is particularly good, it begins promisingly enough by establishing the message:

“8 out of 10 drivers prefer driving for Lyft rather than for Uber.”

At least, that’s what I thought at first.

They list a bunch of reasons why it’s better to be a Lyft driver than an Uber driver.

And toward the end of the spot they say, “Experience the difference at Lyft.”

That suggests their goal either is:

to convince Uber drivers to defect to Lyft


To convince people who are thinking of becoming Uber or Lyft drivers to choose Lyft.

Either way, it’s a recruitment spot.

But 26 seconds into the ad, the announcer lists various ways in which you might be able to use extra money.

If you’re already an Uber driver or thinking of becoming one, you don’t need a radio commercial to tell you how that extra money might come in handy. You know exactly how those extra bucks will be used.

Pointing out ways in which the listener could use the extra money they could earn doesn’t promote Lyft; it promotes the idea of becoming a driver for Lyft, Uber, or other similar companies.

It advertises the industry, not an individual company.

It can’t be both.

A radio commercial can’t succeed in accomplishing two distinctly different goals.

So which is it?

I wouldn’t try to guess what their one goal is, because it’s obvious the advertiser doesn’t know what it is, either.

A Closer Look at the Structure of this Radio Commercial Script

Twice the announcer says, “That’s right!”


How does the announcer’s confirming that what he just told you is correct increase the impact of the message?

They give a clear Call to Action: “Apply at LALyft.com.”

Unfortunately, after they give that Call to Action…

They keep talking!

“While you jot that down, here’s another fun fact: Lyft is the only that allows tipping…”

Wait, which do you want me to do? Jot down the URL where I can apply for a job with Lyt, or listen to “another fun fact”?

Radio Copywriting Tip

Don’t give your Call to Action before you’ve fully established the value of your offer.

Finish your list of “Why Lyft is better than Uber” and then tell the interested, targeted consumer what action to take.

radio copywriting tips

“We’re not crooks. Honest.”

First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.

Some Observations About That Radio Ad

1.  When the commercial begins with, “Hi, I’m (Guy You Never Heard of), CEO of (Company You Never Heard of),” it’s already in trouble.

Would the impact of that message been altered in any way if instead of “Mike O’Brien” it had been “Steve O’Reilly” or “Dave O’Malley”?

2.  If a listener remembers anything at all about that spot, most likely it’ll be “BBB.” “BBB,” however, was not the advertiser.

3.  Did you notice how you didn’t know what he was talking about when he first mentioned “BBB”?

That’s because you don’t begin using the acronym (“BBB”) before having established what it represents (presumably, the Better Business Bureau).

4.  Most of the audience will ignore that entire spot. But if they force themselves to listen to it, here’s the message it will communicate to them:

“We’re not crooks. The BBB — uh, that stands for ‘Better Business Bureau’ — gives us a high rating. So if you’ve been worrying that we might be crooks, relax; we’re not! Just ask the BBB, and they’ll tell you we’re not crooks!”

5.  They give two Calls to Action: Go to our website…or go to this other website, so you can read our reviews.

6. This really isn’t relevant to the (lack of) success of this radio commercial, but if you take one of the two Calls to Action and “check out our reviews at BBB.org,” here is what you will see:

One customer review. The anonymous customer reported having a “Positive Experience” with the business. No anecdotal explanation given.

Here’s a Suggestion for Postings.com

In your radio ad, instead of talking endlessly about “BBB” and inviting people to go to BBB’s website, tell the targeted listener what your business can do to help their business find qualified employees.

Yeah, I know that’s a wild, way-out-there idea. It’s that kind of insanely creative thinking that earns me the big bucks as a commercial copywriter.


Please Don’t Let Them Teach Radio Advertising

First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.

Okay, the advertisement has ended. What key points can you recall?

When critiquing spots, usually I go through them and itemize both the good and the bad elements.

But because this one is overwhelmingly nonstop bad, there’s really no point in my presenting you with an itemized list of What They Did Wrong.

It’s easier to offer this complete list of everything they did right:

Their 60-second spot clocked in at exactly 60 seconds. Congratulations, Grand Canyon University!

When I heard this radio commercial, my first thought was, “I hope they don’t offer a degree in Advertising.”

Oops. They do:

Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations with an Emphasis in Advertising Design

They do point out the program has “an Emphasis in Advertising Design.”

They don’t point out that “when it comes to radio advertising, we don’t have a clue.”


How to Address Radio Advertising Client Concerns

Radio Advertising Sales TipsRecently I shared with you a real-life example of how to respond to a radio advertiser’s concerns without unnecessarily compromising the ad campaign. 

Here are the highlights of the final exchange that occurred before we finalized the commercial campaign. (This will make more sense to you if you read the original piece first.)

Please notice that I didn’t simply say, “Whatever you want! You’re the client, and the customer is always right!”

Instead, I continued to educate the client. Respectfully yet firmly.

I had enough respect for him and for his business goals to help him understand why some of the things that made him feel nervous are important to the campaign’s success.

Side Note:  If I create a radio commercial campaign for a new client and the client doesn’t express some nervousness about some aspect of the script, then I get nervous. 

After continuing the “educating the client” process, I respectfully asked if I had addressed his concerns, and then I “closed”:

“Do you want to proceed?”

I didn’t say I “closed the sale,” because that already had been done. I get paid before I begin working on a project, so I wasn’t nervous about “scaring him off.”

In this case, the goal of “the close” wasn’t to get his signature on a contract.

It was to confirm that we had come to an understanding and that he was ready for me to take the next step: producing the commercial.

The Client Replied…

“I will probably have to go with your recommendation, however I never advertised myself as a cosmetic dentist simply because I don’t do full mouth reconstructions etc. Of course we do cosmetic procedures but usually when someone is advertising themselves as a cosmetic dentist they have extensive training in this area, which I don’t.

“I just don’t want to end up with “high end” patients and won’t be able to meet their expectations. That’s when you start getting bad reviews online or even get accused of false advertisement.”

Dan Replied…

“We civilians don’t know the differences among dentists — e.g., do all dentists do cosmetic dentistry, is there a difference between a ‘family dentist’ and a ‘cosmetic dentist,’ etc.

“What I’m hearing you say is it’s not inappropriate to say you do cosmetic dental, but you’re afraid some people will think think you do the heavy duty stuff such as full mouth reconstructions.

“Here is the only thing listeners will take away after hearing your commercial:

“If they want to have a smile like ‘those pretty people’ on their TV, you can help them.

“They won’t remember (probably won’t even hear) your credentials, accreditations, etc.

“It’s okay if as part of the intake process (your receptionist chatting with them on the phone) you identify 5% – 10% of callers for whom you would be inappropriate.

“For those 5% – 10%, your receptionist should be cheerfully prepared to suggest a couple of specialists.

“If your office steers them to the right person to help solve their problem, those callers still will be grateful to and say good things about you.

“If you had to tell 40% or more of the callers that you can’t help them, then I’d be concerned about your getting a positive ROI from your advertising. But 5 – 10% not only is nothing to worry about; it’s to be expected.

“Does this address your concerns? If so, do you want to proceed?”

Yes, he wanted proceed. He just needed a bit of reassurance and a bit of radio advertising education first.

The Moral for Radio Sales Reps and Copywriters

You’re the expert.

Your job isn’t to do what the advertiser tells you to do.

Your job is to help your client succeed.


A Loyal Reader Writes:

“I’m launching a private radio creative services company. It’s the best way to do the quality work that I’m passionate about. Do you have any advice for someone who is venturing outside the radio industry and into a small business startup?”

Dan Replies:

Congratulations! You’re leaving radio, where you work 7 days a week, for the world of the self-employed, where you work 7 days a week.

Here are a few pieces of “off the top of my head” advice.

Keep perfect financial records from the very beginning.

Don’t accept clients who will make your life miserable.

Know your rates in advance and have them in writing, so that when a prospect asks how much something will cost, instead of quoting a rate off the top of your head you’ll be able to say, “Well, let’s see….For X plus Y and also Z, the rate is….”

Whenever you try to quote a complex fee “off the top of your head,” you’ll quote a figure that is far too low.

It’s much better to say, “When I get back to the office I’ll crunch some numbers for you and see what it will cost.”

Whatever you’re thinking of charging right now, double it.

We’re all afraid to ask for what we’re worth, and we hurt ourselves asking for less than we deserve.

Don’t charge less than your usual rates due to another person’s saying:

A) “But we’re a nonprofit.”

B) “But we can’t afford more.”

C) “We only have $X budgeted….”

D) “We can’t afford your regular rates right now, but once the money starts rolling we’ll hire you for future projects at your full rate.”

E) “But that’s a lot higher than most of the others charge!”

“But we’re a nonprofit.”

“Nonprofit” doesn’t mean “no funds.”

It’s a tax classification, not an indication of their operating budget.

Does their Internet service provider give them a discount because they’re nonprofit?

Does their nonprofit status result in their paying less rent than other equivalent offices in the building?

Do they pay less for utilities, office supplies, coffee for the break room?


“But we can’t afford more.”

Does that work for them at the car dealership?

“Gee, we think having a 2016 Lexus LS 600H as our company car would make a good impression on our corporate clients.”

“Excellent choice! Do you want to pay the $130,000 by check, or would you like to explore our financing options?”

“$130,000? But we can’t afford that!”

“I understand. Let’s take a look at some models that are within your price range…”

“But we want the 2016 Lexus LS 600H!”

“I believe the Rolling Stones have a song whose title addresses your situation…”

“We only have $X budgeted….”

What you charge for your services isn’t based upon what the prospect has budgeted.

People speak of their “budgets” as though they are naturally occurring phenomena over which they have no control.

In reality, a budget is simply a number that has been decided upon.

A budget = “The amount of money we’d like to spend.”

It’s not set in stone. It can be changed.

The first time someone pulled that “we’ve only budgeted this amount” routine on me, I fell for it.

It was at the beginning of my public speaking career, and I didn’t know any better.

I wanted to be “reasonable.”

I didn’t want to appear greedy. I mean, if they’ve only budget $X, how could I refuse? That’s all they had “in their budget.”

Shortly thereafter I realized, “Wait. That was a negotiating ploy. No matter what fee I quoted, the other guy would’ve asked if I could do it for less ‘because it’s outside their budget.'”

On a personal level, I’ve always resented that guy because he took advantage of my natural desire to be helpful.

Now I realize that for him it was just a negotiation, a game.

Since that first time, I don’t get upset when others attempt that tactic with me.

I don’t even blame them. They do it automatically.

When a radio station wants me to work with their air talents or an association wants me to speak at their conference but says my fee is outside their budget, my reply is:

“I understand. Maybe some other time you’ll be in better financial shape…”

You’d be surprised how often their “budget” s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s enough to include what I charge for my time & services.

“But So-And-So will do it for half that amount!”

Internally, my reply is, “If he could charge more, don’t you think he would?”

But what I say aloud is, “I’m sure you’ll be very happy with him.”

“We’ll hire you for future projects at your full rate.”

No, they won’t.

If the job should cost $2,000 but you agree to do it for $500 “just this one time,” you’ve established your value to them as $500.

If they ever do reach the point where they’re able and willing to pay $2,000, they’ll find a $2,000 company to do the job.

They’ll think, “Why should we hire a $500 company for a $2,000 job?”

“But that’s a lot higher than most of the others charge!”

 That’s an excellent position to aspire to.

You don’t base your fees on what most of the others charge.

You base them on the value you deliver to the client.

My standard response:

“Oh, I know. In fact, I even offer a guarantee. If you can find anyone, anywhere who does what I do as well as I do it and charges more than I do, I’ll raise my rates to match his.”

Final piece of advice: Don’t let anyone convince you there’s only one “right” way to run your business.

Including me.

{ 1 comment }