by Andrew Frame

Oooh, how we love to be the little creative wizards! But sometimes you sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and can't write a thing, not even a straightforward rip n'read.

A new book on the shelves, reviewed in my local newspaper recently, is called "Be Bright, Be Brief, Be Gone," penned by Nancy Skinner of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's mostly for public speakers and salespeople, but her ideas can be used to form a template to bust writer's block.

From the review I read, it appears she feels with public speaking and one-on-one meetings, you have nine seconds to grab and hold the audience's attention. We know that with commercials you have about three. (The time it takes for a listener to recognize a commercial is on, and hit the "seek" button on the radio.)

1. Get to the point with your opening sentence. Use a direct statement offering a solution to a problem or need, or ask a pointed question. We all laugh when the ad comes on that asks "Irregularity a problem?" That is, all of us laugh except the person that hasn't gone to the potty in a few days. You've got their attention in a big way. Point your product directly at someone and fire with a question or statement.

2. Give them a map to follow. "There are five excellent reasons why you should buy your next widget from Widget World." List them with brief validating comments. "First...," "Second...," "And, finally...."

3. Less is better. Don't talk down to people, but use common phrasing and keep it simple. If there are locally applicable euphemisms, use them.

Less is better really applies to numbers. No phone number crutches. Forget addresses because your listeners will, even if they are in the market for the product you are pitching. Use locators. 6521 Main Street is fine for the mailman, but your target would be served better by "In the blue building next to K-Mart on Main Street."

True, there are more words, but do you use numerical addresses when you tell people face-to-face how to find a place? Probably not. Neither should your spots.

No product/price laundry lists, either. Hit one or two target products and prices, then move on. Tell them why they should buy this product at this price at this merchant.

4. Finally, a quick recap. Hit your main points with two or three words each, another location address, and the last thing is the client's name.

Agreeably, you may not win an award, but you will have a utilitarian, factual commercial that may do more good than you give it credit for. After all aren't results for the advertiser what we're looking for?