Radio Hed: Imaginary People – Truthful Commercial Stories

Radio Hed Logo 2By Jeffrey Hedquist

We all resonate with stories, so making your client’s commercials into stories is a powerful way to get results.

Potential customers have a protective wall up. Telling stories about them is a way to break through that wall.

Listeners are more sensitive to hype than ever before, so telling the truth works.

You can tell a story that’s not factual, but is truthful.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin debuted in 1859, sold 10,000 copies its first week, became a bestseller second only to the Bible and helped the northern states to unite in a war to end slavery. It was a work of fiction, but it was based on real incidents, actions, words and expressions. This did not make it any less truthful.

Mark Twain said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

I prefer Nashville songwriter Steve Seskin’s take. “Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth.”

For example: If you’re writing a song about a truth that has been passed down in your family from generation to generation, and you learned one principle from your grandfather, another one from your second cousin, and one from your son, try changing the source of the second cousin story to your Dad. It improves the song’s structure and helps the listener “get” the truth better.

Take stories from your experience, your client’s experience and from your research and turn up the amp to bring out the drama.

We’ve taken the results of interviews with customers, finding out why and how they became customers of a certain advertiser and we’ve done the same with non-customers, to discover why they avoided the advertiser. Then, we crafted “composite stories.” – that combined elements from several interviews in each one.

With results of our research in mind, we told stories about how typical non-customers became customers. Each story was truthful, but not factually accurate for each person depicted. Result – lots of new converts who heard stories on the air that sounded like them.

We recently did a spot for a mostly business-to-business advertiser selling high-ticket services – two way radios, satellite phones, and wireless hotspots for large events. They compete with several other well-established companies in the area, but had not achieved good results with their existing radio commercials.

Our commercial introduced Great Communicators in History with short descriptions of several typical users of their services, highlighting each with appropriate sound effects. Three days after the commercial started airing they received had four inquiries and three new pieces of business.

Stories help listeners picture themselves benefitting from the services of the client. In the case of Great Communicators in History we put 5 short stories (more like one line descriptions) of typical users in the commercial.  

The most effective commercials are about listeners - existing or potential customers. If you can get them to imagine themselves visiting, calling, clicking, or actually using the advertiser’s products or services, they’ll be that much closer to taking action.

Know your audience. Write about a person’s problems, challenges, aspirations, and feelings. Give them names and personalities. Write about how they became happier, how they benefitted from the advertiser’s products or services. Tell a truthful story, which can be more accurate than a factual one.

Preview your work with a member of the target audience. You want them to say (at least to themselves), “Hey, that’s me.” When that happens, you have the beginning of trust, which can lead to a purchase and perhaps a long-term relationship.

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Email Jeffrey@Hedquist.com for a truthful answer to your commercial challenge.

© 1997-2016 Hedquist Productions, Inc.

 

 

 

 

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