By Jeffrey Hedquist
Despite what many clients think (hope), your listeners have not been sent scripts of the commercials, and are not avidly reading along as they play. Many people are barely paying attention. It is only when something that interests, amuses, frightens, warns, advises them will they listen.
That’s why it’s dangerous to put a written script in the hands of a client for the first time. They’ll treat it like a print ad and start nit-picking the wrong things. They should hear it in as close to the way a listener will hear it.
In an ideal (and in many cases fantasy) world, a commercial would be fully produced and played for the client preceded and followed by a sample of your station’s typical programming.
How can you make this happen? Prepare several short segments of programming that can be pulled and put heads and tails on commercials. These can be repurposed for many situations.
If a spot can’t be fully produced before getting client approval, at least read it (dare I say act it out?) to your client in person, or over the phone, or send a recorded version to the client. THEN, let them pick it apart (I mean examine) the script. Let them get the emotional impact of the audio first.
Even a recording of a voice explaining the spot “Then the female voice says…” “Here’s where the traffic sound effects start…” “Now under this next paragraph, the Reggae music comes in to set the mood…” is MUCH better than assuming your client (who is still comparing it to a print ad) will “get” what you’re trying to accomplish.
It’s a simple technique, but it takes effort, and time… ah, but it will help you get better spots approved which will help the client get better results which will help you get renewals. It has worked for me for years, and for many of the broadcasters I coach. Here’s a recent comment from one of them:
“…I had to write an ad that would really stand out, but I really struggled to develop something that would work… I finally played with a poetic style ad, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever done. After testing it on a female co-worker and my wife, and getting positive feedback, I was ready to take it to the client. But, I knew I couldn’t email it; I had to act it out, just like you do. I put on my best Hedquist impersonation of a female reading poetry, and lo and behold, the client loved it – a lot!”
Read to your client. I want you to succeed.
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