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Radio Commercials & “Proprietary Algorithms”

Critique of adio commercial for real estate agencyAlthough many radio copywriters would cringe at the opening line of this commercial, it’s not a bad way to begin the spot:


If you plan on selling or buying your home, listen to this important message.

Unfortunately, that’s the only thing this ad doesn’t do badly.

Did you know Rex sells homes 30% faster and charges only a 1% fee?

Consumer: Well, no. Because I have no idea who “Rex” is, there’s no way I could know how fast Rex sells homes or how much Rex charges.

Rex is revolutionizing real estate to save you tens of thousands of dollars.

No home buyer or seller cares about working with a company that is “revolutionizing real estate.”

“Save you tens of thousands of dollars” is relevant to the targeted consumer; “revolutionizing real estate” is not.

Only 1%. Not the outrageous 6% traditional real estate agents charge.

That could…and should…have been the focus of this radio campaign:

“If you’re buying or selling a home, don’t be ripped off by the outrageous 6% commissions that old-fashioned real estate agencies still try to charge you.”

Instead, however, the ad copy focuses not on the targeted consumer but on…Rex:

“Rex sells…”

“Rex charges…”

“Rex is…”

“Rex uses…”

“Rex does…”

The rest of the commercial copy is such a mess that I won’t continue to dissect it line by line. But….

* Either give a vanity phone number (213-699-4REX) or give a numeric phone number (213-699-4739). Giving both is what expert copywriters refer to as “stupid.”

* In cases such as this, they give the numeric phone number just in case the listener doesn’t understand the vanity number.

Hint: If you think there’s a chance the listener might not understand the vanity number, don’t give the vanity number.

If you tell listeners to call 213-699-4REX, some of them will unsuccessfully try to reach the advertiser by calling 213-699-FourRex.”

If the advertiser insists upon using such a lame vanity number, they need to say: “Call 213-699-4REX. That’s 213-699…the number 4…rex.”

* They give two Calls to Action: Call them on the telephone or go to their website.

A successful radio commercial needs to give a single Call to Action.

It’s been proven again and again: Choice suppresses response.

Each time you require prospects to make a decision (should I call them or should I go to their website?), you lose some of them.

* After having already declared, “Today’s home buyers search the Internet,” they suggest that you contact them via that antiquated medium, the telephone.

* They don’t give the consumer any reason either to call the company or to go to their website.

If you’re going to tell them to call, you need to give them a specific reason to do so.

If you want people to go to your website, it needs to be either to get something (e.g., free listing of home sale prices in their neighborhood) or to do something (e.g., fill out this form and receive a confidential, free quote on the precise value of your home).

The radio spot ends with a ridiculously speeded up disclaimer that serves only one practical purpose: to lessen in the listener’s trust in that advertiser.

If the fine print in your offer is too small for people to read, they assume it’s because you don’t want them to know the details of the offer.

If the disclaimer in your radio ad is spoken too quickly for the human ear to decipher, people assume you don’t want them to hear the terms and limitations of the offer.

“But Dan, the Mean Old Government Makes Us Include a Disclaimer.”

1. Not necessarily. You need to include a disclaimer only under specific conditions. The best way to minimize the amount of your commercial time that’s devoted to a disclaimer is to minimize the claims you make that require disclaimers.

2. If you need to include every word of the disclaimer in that particular commercial, make room for it by deleting some of the excess crap that precedes it. For example: No one in the audience cares about your “proprietary algorithms.”

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