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RADIO ADVERTISING LESSON: Anticipating Objections

Radio copywriters can learn a lot about creating effective advertising not only from resources such as this but also from paying attention to masterful persuaders who are outside the world of marketing.


Bobby DeLaughter, who in 1994 successfully prosecuted white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, said that at the time he constantly received advice from community members:

“Let sleeping dogs lie.”

“How can you convict somebody when so many of the witnesses have died, when so much of the physical evidence is inconclusive? What good can come of prosecuting an elderly, infirm defendant?”

According to USA TODAY, DeLaughter “collected the comments in a journal and cited them at trial, figuring that jurors had had similar thoughts.”

Although DeLaughter probably didn’t know much about advertising, he was applying two key principles that I teach.

PRINCIPLE #1:  Anticipate and Overcome Objections

Rather than let the defense raise (and claim as their own) any objections the jurors might have, DeLaughter pre-empted them by voicing the most likely objections and sweeping them aside.

In advertising, if the objection is Price — if the biggest thing that prevents the target audience from acting on your sales message — then you should stress Value or Return on Investment.

Value: “Unlike the cheap dog collars you find in discount stores, Royalty Dog Collars are made of solid gold. So you can relax, knowing that Prince’s collar will never rust and that it will enhance his reputation of being a cut above other curs….”

Return on Investment: “Unlike the cheap dog collars you find in discount stores, Royalty Dog Collars are made of solid gold. So when Prince finally goes to Doggy Heaven, you’ll be able to sell his collar for more than you paid for it.”

PRINCIPLE #2:  Enter The Consumer’s Conversation

I’m fond of quoting legendary copywriter Robert Collier, who defined successful advertising as “entering a conversation the targeted consumer already is having.”

That’s exactly what DeLaughter did — using the actual words that members of his community used to express their feelings.

When they’re really not sure what their Unique Selling Proposition is — the reason that people patronize their business rather than a competitor’s — I routinely advise my clients:

“Get a marketing student from the local university to spend a week at your store. As each customer leaves, have the student ask, ‘Excuse me. What made you decide to shop here today?’ “

I assure the client that they’ll discover their U.S.P. — in their customers’ own words — long before the week is up.

Probably by the second day it will be obvious what overriding influence is generating the most business.

At that point, they can take the words their customers are using and build a commercial around it.

(Unfortunately, most advertisers — like most radio stations—use the words they wish their customers are saying about them.)

Next Installment: Creative examples to overcome specific consumer objections.

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