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

I currently own a lot of computers, and by a lot I mean “2 or 3 that still actually work, and then there’s the graveyard.” I’ve inherited some from family members who moved onward and upward and knew putting them in my hands was just slightly handier than taking them to the dump, while others are my own personal cast-offs. I recognize that I probably won’t be using most of them ever again, but like an episode of Hoarders waiting to happen, I hold on, deluding myself that there are still “valuable files” stored on them, which need to be protected. Of course I could simply pull the drives and save storage space, but there’s something about firing up one of these dinosaurs and poking through the files that brings out the Indiana Jones in me -- searching for treasures in folders with such provocative names as, “Fiscal year-end 1997,” or, “Prescriptions 2003 A-F.”

It was during one recent excavation in my buzzy old Dell that I stumbled across some writing I meant to turn into a book… well, books, actually. The longest were, at best, a chapter, some were little more than outlines of ideas I had for novellas to come. All were fiction… except for one. I had an idea for a book which would cover the basics for potential radio advertisers… not so much a “Do It Yourself” work (God help us), but more of a “self-help” guide to get them thinking about what they want to accomplish with their radio ad and how the process works.

Considering how long it’s been gathering cyber-dust, I have little faith that I’ll ever get around to finishing it, but there are still a few thoughts worth offering to a new client that I thought might be worth sharing with you. So, with no editing or camera tricks of any kind, here’s the opening chapter:

So you’ve decided to advertise on the radio. The time has come to call that Salesperson that keeps bugging you every week and buy some time… ah, no. Bad idea… at least, until you have a plan.

Over the years I’ve worked with too many clients who have been sold “hot air” with no idea what they’re going to do with it. The results are seldom what they expected, which is ironic when you think about it. Without a plan, what exactly ARE your expectations?

So… how do you put your plan together? I’m glad you asked. The following are some questions you’ll want to answer for yourself before you move forward. I think it’s important to answer them as quickly as you can the first time through, getting your initial feelings. Then set them aside for a day or two, give them some thought, then return to them and see if any of your answers have changed. Obviously, some won’t (hopefully, for example, you haven’t changed your name in two days), but you may find that some important elements have.

With that, here we go… the amazing radio commercial plan questionnaire:

1. What is your business name?

2. What is your location?

3. What hours are you open?

4. What is your phone number?

5. What is your web address?

6. If you don’t have a web address… why not?

7. What is the main product/focus of your business?

8. What are the secondary products/focuses of your business?

9. How long have you been in business?

10. How long have you and/or your employees worked for your business/in the industry?

11. What is the single most important element of your business that sets you apart from your competition?

12. What are any other elements that set you apart from your competition?

13. Who is your primary customer? Male? Female? Age? Income? Why do they currently use your product/business?

14. Who is your secondary customer? (same questions)

15. Who do you want your primary customer to be? (same questions)

16. If they are not currently your primary customer, why?

17. Who do you consider to be your primary competition? Why?

18. Who do you consider to be your secondary competition? Why?

19. Do you currently advertise on radio?

20. If yes, on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest, how effective would you grade your current radio advertising?

21. What’s the best thing about your current ad?

22. What’s the worst?

23.  Does your competition advertise? On a scale from 1-10, how effective would you grade his advertising? On a scale from 1-10, how would you grade the quality of his advertising?

24. From 1-10, grade the service level of your business (be honest).

25. From 1-10, grade the “look” of your business… interior/exterior. If you were a customer just walking in the door, what would your impression be?

Again, answer these questions twice… once quickly, the first thing that pops in your head, and then give it a couple of days and answer them again. Keep both sheets; they will be the materials to build your radio advertising, from conception, to your customer hearing it on the air.

Get out your hammer. It’s time to start building!

I did get past chapter one with this piece, perhaps I’ll share more at some point. For now, I hope there were some ideas you can adapt for a check-list for your own advertisers. For my part, this column is justification enough to keep hoarding, er, excavating.