Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

Sometimes it seems that there is nothing to distinguish your client from all the other advertisers in their category.

Typical clients who seem to fall into the “parity pit” are travel agents, cell phone service providers, mortgage brokers, independent insurance agents, automobile dealers, mattress retailers, home heating dealers and appliance stores.

You won’t like my saying this but the lazier we are, the more of our clients seem to be parity advertisers.

You see, I don’t feel there are any real parity advertisers. Each one has something unique, or at least there are ways to make that advertiser unique in the minds of potential customers. But it takes work.

How can you make ‘em stand out? One smart-ass suggestion I could make is to reread the 113 articles I’ve written for Radio And Production. Each one tackles creating commercials that work from a slightly different angle. Taken together, they’ll give you a toolbox full of ways to bring uniqueness to the seemingly ordinary.

A shorter method is to try these 5 approaches that will help you lift your parity clients up from the crowd. After each one, I’ve suggested RadioHed articles from back issues of Radio And Production to give you more information and examples.

1. Probe for stories from your client.

Asking questions that unearth tales from your client’s experience can be the most rewarding and surprising technique. Every client serves his or her customers in a unique way. Often they’ve forgotten or overlooked the gems that you can polish and bring to light. Radio Storytellers January 1998; Where Do You Get Stories? November 2002

Ask your client, “What do you wish people knew about you or your business that they don’t now? What benefit that you provide do you wish everyone knew about?’ Be Human July 1997; Audience Needs Analysis April 2004; They’re Not Just Spots, They’re Sales Calls July 2005; Niche, Niche, Niche September 2005

2. Create stories from the threads you uncover.

The stories can be word-for-word accurate, or wild exaggerations. They can be told by the client, by customers, by actors or by announcers. They can be funny, quirky, dramatic, mysterious or interesting to the target audience in any number of other ways. Exaggerate February 2004; Stop Lying January 2005; Start Telling the Truth February 2006

3.Talk to customers.

Customers will reveal things that your client probably doesn’t know. You’ll find out the real reason people shop there, the unexpected uses for the advertised product or service, likes, dislikes, praise and criticism – all of which are fodder for stories. Audience Needs Analysis Revised July 2004.

4.What’s in a name?

Are there any ideas that come from the company name? Any word plays, parodies, ideas for a series of episodes, opportunities to create characters, explain a USP, sing a song or otherwise implant your client in the listener’s awareness? Mnemonic Devices June 1999

5. Pull back the curtain.

What goes on behind the scenes at your client’s business? Explain your client’s process, recipe, business methods, philosophy or reasoning. It may be the same as their competitor’s, but if your client is the first one to explain it, then everyone else has to play catch up. This one is so important; we’ll devote a whole article to it in the future. Be Human July 1997; Reason February 2002.

6. Put a face on your client

Using approaches 1-4 will help you create personalities for your parity clients. This may be the key distinction between your client and the rest of the pack. Is the owner brash, outspoken, quirky, humorous? Does the team of employees have any common traits? Do they play on a sports team, tell bad jokes, act silly, take everything too seriously or treat customers like family?

Tell listeners about whatever makes your client unique. People don’t buy from institutions. They buy from other people.

1997-2007 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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