and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

In the grand tradition of the Grinch, I would like to celebrate the holiday advertising season by stealing every present. Pro Tools! And barter beds! Sound effects! Drums!

Copywriters! Neumanns! Plug-ins! And Tums! (Don’t lie to me… we all need them, and perhaps something stronger, this time of the year.) I’m cramming all our little Creative toys in bags and stuffing them up the chimney, for the moment. And yes, like the Grinch, it’s about the noise. Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing I hate! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

OK, now that we’ve stripped all the glitter and tinsel away, deep cleansing breath. Ahhh. Good. Now, let’s look at what we’re really doing. Get ready… this might sting a little. We are selling. Yes, SELLING. Whoa, back down, don’t get all defensive! A Creative’s greatest gift is an open mind. Maybe you should sit down and breathe into this paper bag for a minute or two.

So, there, the ugly truth is spoken. Radio Creatives are Salespeople, even those of you who “Do imaging, NOT spots.” Whether you’re Creating a commercial for the toy store downtown, or a promo for Metallica Mondays on your station, you are selling listeners, something.

You might be feeling a bit naked at the moment. No tools, no toys, no tactic you can use to hide you from the fact that the one thing you never wanted to be, you’ve always been. This is the part where all the Who’s down in Whoville found comfort in singing. Let’s consider the song.

Because of our stubborn insistence over the years that we will “never be like salespeople,” Radio Creatives often worry about the wrong things. We’ve all asked the questions. “Does this sound cool?” “Is this funny?” “Isn’t that the craziest effect you’ve ever heard?” We can argue all day about whether these are valid questions, but more importantly, I think we need to agree that the most important question should be, “Is this effectively selling (insert product)?” To answer that question, we need to get into the head of the listener at a very basic level.

What do we all need? Air, food/water, shelter. What do we all want? Love, happiness, contentment. That’s really about it. Of course there are other things, but they could all be sub-categories of those basics. In fact, with the exception of what we breathe, the other 5 basics mean an endless list of things, depending on the person. So, to “sell” your listener whatever you’re pitching with your Creative, it’s important to understand what those basic needs mean to them… and how your “product” can fulfill at least one of those needs.

Let’s go back to holiday advertising/imaging as an example. If there’s any time of the year where basic needs are craved, it’s the holidays. Deep down, even the most jaded human being has a need for that comfortable place, where home and family and warmth and good food and companionship all give them something they rarely get any other time of the year. If your Creative can convince the listener that the product you’re pitching will give them even a slice of that, they’re sold.

 You might be asking, “How?” That’s up to you. The answer depends on your audience and their needs, and if you don’t know who your audience really is and what their needs are… well, you’ve got some work to do! But in the long run, the time spent will be much more valuable than the hours tinkering with an effect setting for “the perfect” elf voice. Trust me; you’re good in that department. Nobody really knows what they sound like anyway.

 Well, it’s about time to finish playing out the story. Down I come, sliding down the mountain and bringing back all of your Creative bits and bobbles. I realize that the tune I’ve been blowing on my horn this month may not sound “real Creative.” Honestly, when I started in the business, I would’ve agreed. But I’ve come to realize that unless I sell, unless I’m persuasively, strategically Creative, I’m not doing my job. That truth has taken my work in all sorts of new, interesting, CREATIVE directions. And, more importantly, it’s made me consider the listener as a person, a fellow human being with needs and desires that, perhaps, I can help meet with my Creative. Realizing that, my Creative potential grew 3 sizes that day… and so can yours!