Radio Results Blog

Famous First Words: How To Start Your Commercials On Portland Radio

Posted by Larry Julius on Sun, Aug 20, 2017 @ 07:24 AM

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Commercials Advertising MarketingJob one of your radio commercial is not to sell a product. It's not to build brand. It's not to create top-of-mind awareness. It's not to build foot traffic.

The first and most important job of a radio commercial is to be heard.  If your commercial is heard, then all else follows.

At the exact second your radio commercial begins,11,000,000 other pieces of data are wrestling for the attention of each listener. So, if you are a Maine small business owner who depends on Portland radio to advertise goods and services, then what you say first in your commercial is critical to winning the battle of the ear.

As radio copy writing veteran Dan O'Day says, "The first line of the commercial is a commercial for your commercial." Bravo!

Unfortunately, many business owners begin their ads with a whimper, not a bang. And that's how a commercial's world ends: unheard with no serenade of ringing cash registers.

Don't Ask...Tell

Often times these introductory whimpers take the form of a question. Here's is an example of opening lines from  radio commercials I heard  just during the last hour: "Does your vehicle need an oil change?", "Are you looking into health insurance?", "Are you concerned your electric bills are too high?", "Are you building a new home?", "Want to improve your credit score?", and, finally, "Need to improve your credit score?" (Truly, two different financial institutions commenced their radio ad with nearly identical questions).

Other times the introductory whimper takes the form of stating the obvious. "Summer is here...", "It's back to school time...", "Buying a new car is a big investment...", "Summer is the hottest time of year...", "Summer is almost over...", and, lastly, "Winter is just around the corner....".

I have no doubt, that may of these radio commercials looked fine on paper. But, when the first line of your radio ad sounds like the first line of all the other ads on the air, your business is destined to lose the war for the listeners' ears. And, alas, your commercial will fail it's most important job: to be heard.

Ear Catching Opening Lines

When it comes to ear-catching opening lines, Maine small business owners can emulate a recent online ad campaign for the literary magazine Matchbook. I first started seeing these ads, disguised as mini-stories, in the paid ad section on Google search result pages.  Here are some examples:

  • "Cereal up a nostril. Phone missing. Fridge ringing. Shoe full of Legos." (You Can Have It All written by Erica Haldi).
  • "I am now intensely concerned with where exactly my cat will throw up." (New Hardwood Floors written by Kelly M. Socia)
  • "She sneers at my pizza while she stabs her salad. I take a big bite." (Lunch Wars written by Madeline Anthes)
  • "That guy with the Reindeer sweater? He has the hottest wife of us all." (Mail Order written by Lorri McDole)
  • "The twenty-one days were finished, and he knew just what to do with his freedom." (After The Diet written by Amanda Bloom)

Just for fun: Think about your radio commercial. Replace your current opening line with one of the 5 above. Then rewrite your commercial to flow from you new opening line. You will then see how powerful your first words could be.

Imagine If You Will

I will leave you with a real life example.  Imagine your are listening to your favorite Portland radio station. Between a car dealer commercial and a cellphone commercial you hear a DJ say, "Having trouble sleeping? Worried you might have bed bugs?".  Would you give this your full attention? Probably, not. The commercial's cliched approach would be overwhelmed from the outset by the other 11,000,000 pieces of data present in the listener's world.

Now suppose, instead of the questions about sleeping and bedbugs, the commercial below was sandwiched between the car dealer and the cellphone carrier. Would you hear it?

[Commercial Credit: TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris]

When your Maine small business invests in advertising on Portland radio, you need your commercial to slice through the morass of data, sights, sounds and smells that are simultaneously vying for your customers attention. Your first words cut the deepest.

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Tags: Portland Maine Radio, Portland Radio, maine small business advertising, maine small business marketing, Maine Small Business Owners