Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tell Me A Story

One of the hardest things to master is writing a :60 commercial. Try it. Write a commercial about yourself. Sell yourself to a prospective client. What would it sound like? Would you start by listing your credentials, or the other jobs you've held? Would it be an audio resume?

Are you sure?

I got the best response from a prospective client when I asked him about HIS product. There was something just a little off about it. I asked him if that bothered him. It did. He just wasn't aware that anyone else noticed the flaw. That's what got me in the door and a chance to present what I could do.

I started this entry with a commercial, but it wasn't about me, the product, it was about him, the consumer. I got the business because I asked questions about him, and wanted to know his product.

That's how you tell a story in a :60 commercial: aim for the heart of the consumer.

Have you heard the latest advertising from Sunkist? It also asks questions: "When you hear the words -juicy- , -yummy-, -mmmm-, do you think about the smell when you first rip into the peel, the juice exploding into your mouth with that first bite?" By the end of the "story" you are actively thinking about oranges, and you want one. Because the commercial just told you all the reasons you love oranges. NOT the reasons that Sunkist WANTS you to love oranges.
That's what radio advertising does.

--Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 24, 2006


If you can force yourself to listen to the worst sales messages on radio- and believe me there are a lot of them- you might hear the client's business advertised as "THE place to be."

To be WHAT?? To be parted from your money? To be arrested? To be welcomed and pampered? We don't know, because the client has not told us. They assume the listener will know; but we all know what assumptions lead to.

Maybe fifty years ago, emphasising the article was considered chic and fashionable, as in "Dahling, you must call him, he is simple THE decorator to have!!" Meaning, I suppose, the Definative..the person whose work defined the standard for every other in that category. That's quite a large boast. It comes with the understanding that the listener considers himself to be a sheep, and if everyone else is using said product or service, then I will too, or else I shall be out of touch.

Apart from a 14 year old girl, do you know anyone who really thinks that way? Then to WHOM is the advertiser talking? The verb "to be" is an irregular verb anyway. It needs another idea attached to it. To be is simply to exist. Do you want to be known as the place to simply exist? Using that kind of lazy writing in your sales messages will cause your story to be un-memorable. Too much of that, and your business will cease to be.

--Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Everything that is purchased has both a price and a percieved value. Price is the actual monetary cost of an item. Percieved value is how you feel about that price in relation to the to the item. If the percieved value is higher than the price, you have what is known as a good deal. However, when you deal in what is for all intents and purposes an intangible product - voice and production- the lines of percieved value can become blurred.

This is an interesting business in that everyone thinks he or she can be successful at it with minimal effort. And so they have a home computer with some software they downloaded and a microphone they picked up in the music store's closeout bin, they plug them together and market themselves as a voice for hire. They may have a low price, but they can be heavily lacking in value. Here's why:

The closeout microphone may be great for some musical instruments, but the human voice has a very specific range. Pro audio equipment is made specifically to capture those nuances.
Recording software varies greatly. Professional Digital Audio programs, like the Nuendo we use, has the ability to edit down to the whisp of a breath. It can enhance each track with the kind of tools - normalization, equalization, compression and digital effects - that just a few years ago used to fill racks of equipment in a studio. And while having all that is great, you also have to know how to use it. We have over 30 years experience in producing quality audio.

The final product, too, can leave a lot to be desired. So many clients now want MP3 files. Did you know that some MP3s can sound cleaner than others? MP3s are not CD quality, because the files are compressed and some data is lost. However if you're not specifying a sample rate for your MP3s, you're not getting all you bargained for. 128k is ok for an answering machine, but if you're playing your corporate image, or your sales message over anything bigger than a four inch speaker, you want 256k audio.. or a .wav file...........OR a CD. We can provide that. It's as easy as your asking for it.

We don't work only every few days, we work everyday. And we follow up with clients and make sure everything went smoothly with their audio. It has even followed us when we're out of town. A client called with a pressing deadline, and we found an available studio in a strange city and completed the project in just hours.

Ask yourself to imagine the cost versus the percieved value the next time you purchase something. I think you'll agree that service and experience stand up well.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I suppose the term "podcasting" will stick. Maybe a better one would be "personal broadcasting". Literally anyone with audio software and a little knowledge to pick up RSS coding can develop an audience with their unique brand of music, humor, or just talk. In the coming months, the process of putting a podcast together will become even easier.

By 2008, it's predicted that 25 million persons will be listening to podcasts, and by 2010 that number will reach 50 million.

I've been working with a number of podcasters for the past year. I just finished a project for the Society of Civil Engineers, and one of the podcasts I work with regularly, American Cliche, was recently named one of the most influencial programs by Ad Age. One of the first shows I worked with, AirFerg, even claims to be the first podcaster - before IPods were invented.

As a way of making information or entertainment available to an audience worldwide, podcasting is going to boom in the next 12 months. If you have a podcast or are planning one, we need to talk.

--Thanks for reading

Monday, March 13, 2006


Any number of comics have used that line - it's an old joke: Doc, It hurts when I do that..and the doctor said, "Well, then, don't DO that!"

Have you ever heard of someone going to the doctor saying, "Gimme some more of that cough syrup, Doc, that'll do the trick." "But, you don't have a cough, you need your gall bladder removed." "Well," you say, " Let me have the cough syrup. That's what I've always used. Who's the customer here anyway!"

An unlikely scenerio, but it happens in advertising all the time. Mr. Black's business may be sick. The copywriter knows how to present your message in such a way that customers will want to visit your business. Yet, Mr. Black demands the same tired cliches and dull copy that he's always used.

If you must make your advertising a list of the products or services you sell, do it in the Yellow Pages. But make your broadcast fun (notice I didn't say FUNNY), compelling, listener-oriented, emotional, and effective.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Thank you.
For the past two weeks, I've received a ton of comments about a commercial we produced about five months ago. If folks are talking about the message, then surely they should be using the product. Well, they are. Their Marketing Director tells me it is the best producing message they have ever had.

He can take most of the credit. It can be unnerving to place your trust in someone to direct your investment of advertising dollars. You don't know what your creative team will come up with, and when you finally see the finished product, you might feel let down. Is That IT?

Simple. Emotional. Tell the customer how they will feel using the product. Yes, that's IT.
It works.

Thanks for listening!