Radio Hed Logo 2By Jeffrey Hedquist

A reader of my “Five Second Test” article responded with frustration:

I’d love to rock into my commercials but what do you do when you have clients who are still back in the ‘60s with “Tommy’s Auto has a lot of great cars for sale” or “If you are looking for a store that will save you money, ABC Sporting Goods is the place.”

When I try to be creative and use a different approach, I get shot down, so please suggest a work around for this archaic attitude.

Clients feel comfortable with commercials that sound like commercials because that’s what they hear on the air, so they feel safe doing them that way. Unfortunately, safe doesn’t work, because listeners hear that all the time and they don’t pay attention to the same old approach.

Potential customers don’t care that “Tommy’s Auto has a lot of great cars for sale.” That opening line isn’t about them, it’s about Tommy’s.

No one is “looking for a store that will save them money.” They’re looking for a solution to their problem. That’s what your audio headline, the first 5 seconds of the spot, should be about – the listener. If your client can save them money while solving their problem, tell them that in the commercial after you capture their attention.

Your client is a radio listener too. Test them. Play or read them the first few seconds from a typical radio ad for an advertiser from a different category than theirs. For your car dealer you might try:

“Center Pharmacy has lots on sale this week.”

“Looking for a computer bargains? Virginia Computer has ‘em.”

Then ask your client, “Would you continue to listen to this? Really?” They’ll probably answer, No.” This gives you an opening to discuss the wisdom (or lack) of sounding like other commercials.

Brainstorm with your client what problems the potential customer has and how they solve them. Together, you should be able to come up with several. This is the beginning of a campaign that will work and which you client will approve, since they helped generate the words.

If you can shock, intrigue, invoke humor or drama or touch the heart of a listener in the first few seconds of a commercial, they may listen to the rest of it.

When you “try to be creative and use a different approach,” make sure that your audio headline - the first few seconds of pattern interrupt – really relates to the message. The interesting opening should then lead to the message of how the client’s product or service will benefit the customer.

Want help building an effective audio headline? Email me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll be happy to help.

© 1997–2016 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. 


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