A few years ago I created a radio advertising seminar entitled “Making Your Case.”
The creation of this presentation began with my asking a hypothetical question:
“You are advertising a product that everyone in your audience can afford. This product truly will add greatly to the lives of everyone in your audience who uses it.
“It is fairly priced — in fact, it’s a bargain. It’s completely safe.
“The commercials are easy to understand, they don’t offend your listeners, and they clearly explain how your listeners will benefit from the product and how and where the product can be purchased.
“You’ve aired the radio commercial often enough that every listener has heard it repeatedly. But not everyone in your audience has purchased this wonderful product.
Answer: Because they don’t believe you. Because you have failed to convince them that what you are saying is true. Because they have learned that many advertisers tell less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I asked myself, “Where else in life is it vitally important to be able to convince people to believe you?”
And I realized the answer to that question is: “A courtroom.”
In a courtroom, an attorney’s ability to communicate clearly, compellingly and convincingly can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Successful advertising motivates the targeted consumer to act on the sales message. A successful trial attorney motivates a judge or jury to “buy” their theory of the case.
As I thought about and researched this more, I realized that in advertising, the consumer is both the witness and the jury. (I’ll explain what I mean by that later.)
The goal in a criminal case: Getting someone to vote “yes” or “no.” Yes, he’s guilty; no, he’s not.
The goal of a radio commercial: Getting someone to act on your sales message. If you’re advertising iPhones, the question before the consumer is, “Should I buy an iPhone? Have they convinced me that having an iPhone will add to my life so much that it will be worth the investment?”
The goal in a civil case: Getting someone to choose whom to believe.
The goal in a radio commercial: Getting someone to buy your product or service rather than your competitors’. If you’re advertising iPhones, the question before the consumer is, “Should I get an iPhone…or an Android?”
Why don’t consumers believe you?
Here are the most common reasons.
1) They think you’re lying.
2) They don’t know if they can trust you.
3) They lack confidence in your knowledge.
4) They lack confidence in your expertise.
5) They think you are biased.
Let’s look at ways to combat these five sources of disbelief….
1) They think you’re lying.
If this is the reason, then you’ve got trouble. If you say you offer “easy credit approval over the phone” and your targeted consumers have been told that repeatedly in the past and it always turned out to be a lie, you need to prove to them why you really are different.
Three methods of convincing them….
A) Statistical Evidence
“90% of our credit applications are decided in one phone call.”
B) Character Witnesses
In a future posting, we’ll look at the different types of character witnesses you can use in your advertising.
C) Direct Testimony of the Client
Your advertiser “takes the stand” to tell his story.
If the advertiser is a bankruptcy attorney and he’s a “dese, dem an’ dose” kind of guy, you might not want him to testify on his own behalf.
But if when he speaks he sounds like someone who is well-informed, experienced, understanding and trustworthy, it might be good to put him behind the microphone.
Five ways to give direct testimony by the client:
1) Have him voice the entire radio commercial.
2) Have an announcer handle all the heavy lifting, while the client just makes a brief appearance:
“I’m Edward R. Jeckyll. Even though my specialty is bankruptcy law, declaring bankruptcy is not always the best solution. Before we take your case, we’ll explore all of your legal options with you.”
And the announcer handles everything else.
3) Structure the radio commercial in a Question & Answer format:
“Q: If you’ve suffered serious financial reverses and are considering declaring bankruptcy, Edward R. Jeckyll of Heckyl & Jeckyll Attorneys At Law has the answers to some of the questions you’re probably wondering about. Is there more than one kind of bankruptcy?
“A: Yes. The best-known are called ‘Chapter 9’ and ‘Chapter 11.’ In a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, you’re allowed to….”
A Question & Answer format positions the radio advertiser as an expert. Potential customers gradually are put at ease as they become convinced that he knows what he’s talking about.
4) Interview the client.
“Why did you decide to specialize in bankruptcy law?”
“What’s the first step someone should take if they’re considering bankruptcy?”
“How much does this process usually cost?”
With an interview format, you’re establishing rapport with the potential customers, as they gradually come to feel that they “know” the advertiser.
5) If the radio advertiser is very limited in his ability to speak into a microphone, you might be able to get away with the Politician’s Ploy — just have him give his name at the end of the spot.
“I’m Ed Jeckyll, and I will fight your legal rights.”
(But not if he’s a “dese, dem an’ dose” guy.)
Larry S. Pozner and Roger J. Dodd point out in CROSS-EXAMINATION: SCIENCE AND TECHNIQUES, “Many states have an instruction that warns jurors that a witness who was found to be lying in one aspect of her testimony can be disregarded in all other aspects of her testimony.”
How that applies to you:
If in your radio advertising you make one claim that listeners don’t believe, it taints your other claims. If you say something that they believe to be false, you are giving them permission not to believe anything else you say.
So the absolute best way to prevent targeted consumers from thinking you’re lying is…to tell the truth.
Don’t risk appearing that you’re lying or trying to dodge the facts. Look them in the eye and tell them the truth.