Maine small business owners spend good money to advertise on Portland radio. We have shared dozens of success stories from advertisers like Mathews Brothers, Cathy Manchester Real Estate, WH Demmons, and Dunbar Water. These are all businesses who have seen their sales expand because of what they say in their radio commercial.
Sometimes, though, commercials don't work. They fail to engage the listener. An unengaged listener does not convert into a paying customer. And nothing disengages a listener faster than a cliche. What is a cliche? The dictionary says they are a "phrases or opinions that are overused and betrays a lack of original thought."
Comedian George Carlin weaves together a bevy of advertising cliches in a rant called "Advertising Lullaby". He postulates the whole reason for advertising must be to "lull us to sleep." Below is the text of his rant. Sadly, it seems many commercials still utilize these hackneyed phrases:
Quality, value, style, service, selection, convenience
Economy, savings, performance, experience, hospitality
Low rates, friendly service, name brands, easy terms
Affordable prices, money-back guarantee.
Free installation, free admission, free appraisal, free alterations,
Free delivery, free estimates, free home trial, and free parking.
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selection that's just right for you and just right for your budget.
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Neuroscientist have seen evidence that cliches are actually detrimental to persuasive communication. In an article published in the Journal Neuroimage, researchers found that when exposed to cliches, "our brains lose interest and show decreased activity in not just the meaning-making right hemisphere but in the language-centered left hemisphere, as well. We [hear] a cliché as though it were literal, without any added mental activity on our part."
In other words, this loss of interest caused by cliches in radio advertising impedes us from becoming immersed in the sponsor's message. As an article from the Curiouser Institute states, "There can be no experience and so no psychological effect without immersion."
One of the most egregious advertising cliches heard on Portland radio involves obvious temporal references like 'Summer is Sizzlin' (you don' say), or 'Christmas comes once a year" (Duh!); "Are current gas prices bringing you down" (No, I love taking out a second mortgage when I fill-up); or "Open every evening until 8 P.M." (really, until now I thought 8 P.M. happened every morning). A more powerful use of words is to state the unobvious to engage listeners: "The Sales Associates at Mountain Furniture don't work on a commission, they are paid on customer satisfaction."; "On average, The Doctors at Memorial Hospital graduated third from their medical school class."; or "The flowers and shrubs at Meadowbrook Nursery are grown from seed in the rocky soil of Maine in order to tough out the ravages of your garden." In each of the above cases, customers would appreciate knowing these things about a business (but they don't need to be told that Christmas comes once a year).
Here is one great way to make sure your radio commercial is devoid of cliches. Cut and paste a copy of your script into the search box at http://cliche.theinfo.org.This site will help you find most of the sleepy, worn-out and overused language. You can then eradicate the offending language and replace it with more powerful, original thought.
As you work to make your radio commercials more engaging to your prospective customers, keep in mind the words of novelist and essayist Martin Amis who said, “All writing is a campaign against cliché. Not just clichés of the pen but clichés of the mind and clichés of the heart
Below are two videos produced by the incoming Jim Elliot, the Chief Creative Officer of Arnold Worldwide Advertising. Arnold is the agency behind the Flo commercials for Progressive Insurance among other remarkable work. The videos are great examples of "Things We Don't Want To Hear In A Radio Ad".
If you are a Maine small business thinking about advertising on Portland radio, then here's some advice on what not to say!.
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