A couple of weeks ago I suggested a few ways to tighten up radio ad copy. At the time I promised a future post dedicated to clichés that should be avoided. Here are some of my (least) favorites:
“Attention!” Yes, the idea is to get the listener’s attention. But is that really the best you’ve got?
Opening with a question. Consider the old standard “are you hungry?” What if your audience answers no? You just lost them.
“Deals so good we can’t mention them on the radio!” What does this even mean? What this line tells me is that the deals probably aren’t that good. Otherwise, you would mention them.
“Prices have never been lower!” At least not since the last sale.
“There’s never been a better time to buy!” See “prices have never been lower.”
“Don’t delay!” Yes, a call to action is often important, but not necessarily because “our prices have never been lower,” “quantities are limited,” “our prices can’t be beat,” or “we won’t be undersold!” Demonstrate why delay could be costly. It’s not always about price and supply. Make it relatable. Tell a story. Explain why the customer should make time in her schedule to “hurry in today!”
“If you’re looking for (product), look no further than (business).” This phrase is just a crutch for a lazy writer. The same goes for “if you’re in the market for (product),” and “for all your (product) needs.” Again, make it relatable. Anticipate and address your audience’s needs and illustrate why your client is best able to meet those needs. Hint: it may not because they’re a “one stop shop.”
“No job is too big or too small.” But apparently the writer considered this job too small to craft a better line.
“A friendly, knowledgeable staff.” I’ll also include the meaningless “service after the sale.” Why not develop a commercial that focuses on the client’s exemplary service? Why not go into the business with a microphone and record the staff being awesome? Why not interview customers who have had great experiences with the business?
“Over (many) years in business.” That doesn’t necessarily mean the business understands its customers or their needs.
“Conveniently located.” Isn’t this dependent upon the listener’s proximity to the business and means of transportation? Which reminds me…
“Make that short drive” usually means that it’s actually a long drive. And your listeners know it. Of course once they get there, they’ll find…
“Plenty of free parking.” This might be valid for a business in a very congested urban area, but in most cases it’s a waste of time and words.
The above phrases are simply valueless. They’ve been overused to the point of emptiness. I thought it might be fun to illustrate the point with the mock commercial below.
Isn’t that silly? And yet everyday we hear actual radio commercials that sound just like that. They’re just noise. Clean up copy clutter and you’ll be better able to create spots that make an impact. In the demo, I also used one of my least favorite cliché techniques: the pukey, hard sell delivery. I was talking with Gary Bouton last week. Gary’s a former Madison Avenue ad man who I find inspiring. Gary commented, “Geoff, do you know how to really get an audience’s attention? You don’t shout.”
By the way, “badvertising” is a term Gary used during our conversation. I’m only borrowing it for this one post. I wouldn’t want it to become a cliché.