Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not The "Real World" I Expected

Who Knew?

When I chose to start working as a Marketing Consultant (i.e. sales person) for a group of radio stations, I expected to learn a lot about sales techniques, paperwork and flight schedules. What I didn’t expect; however, was to end up learning about unusual industries like heavy equipment and power tool manufacturers and dealers. Not to mention assisted living facilities, public safety equipment, RV dealerships, or electric cigarettes. Yes, that’s right, there are at least 7 brands of electric cigarettes available right now.

If you plan on ever chatting up RV dealers, allow me to spare you some embarrassment. An RV’s “dry weight” does not refer to its weight while traveling though arid regions. Nor does it indicate your RV’s weight prior to transforming it into a boat. But rather “dry weight” means how much an RV weighs before you add the water for its plumbing systems—fresh water, waste water and reusable water, like what runs down the drain during a shower. Water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon, so plan accordingly! The good news is that the dealer thought my question was meant as a funny “industry” joke, when I really was just clueless.

A Masterpiece Measured in Seconds

Whether it be for the “Association for Near-Death Studies,” a generic breakfast diner, or your neighborhood lawn-care company, writing radio commercial copy is hard! Especially if you attempt humor in that spot.

Tips I’ve picked up along my short journey of commercial copy writing:
- Sound effects instantly create atmosphere and will save you precious time needed to establish setting.
- Silly and weird voices instantly create humor. Or at least get your spot some attention. So many radio spots are just “straight reads” that any deviation from the norm is noticeable.
- Too much deviation is burdensome for the audience. I recently heard a commercial that used a familiar and fun song. It immediately caught my attention as I started to bob my head along. However, 60 seconds later I still had no idea what the commercial was selling. I heard something about car insurance and bits and pieces of a man’s name. Weeks later after hearing this spot enough times, that I think I could find the company online, but it would require some research.
- Say the business’ name. You may think this is obvious, and it is! But in addition to increasing recall of a company’s name and products or services, it also flatters a CEO’s ego. He won’t know exactly why, but he will know that he loves the commercial and you, the writer!
- Commercial copy is no place for lofty language. If you find yourself thinking that your college English professor will be impressed, dumb it down. Commercials are quick, lumped in with other commercials, and are often ignored. If your spot it complicated, listeners won’t take the time to decipher it.
- Save those “big words” for creating humor. They are most useful in creating a nerdy character. Even if audiences don’t know what they mean, they’ll get the point.

Acting Helps in All Professions

ou absolutely must care about co-workers’ children and parents. Or at least pretend to. Now, I don’t consider myself a private person by any means, and I will definitely open up on the drama of my life when asked. However, the difference between me and many of my co-workers is that I don’t expect people to care about the intricacies of my life.

Although details about homework assignments, soccer practice, sinus-health, or whether or not your 13-year-old is going to grow up smokin’ hot might make for good conversation around the family dinner table, I can’t feign interest. As a friend put it the other day, “our stage of life often leads us to empathize more with these people’s children than we can with our adult co-workers.” While I can’t agree when it comes to their toddlers, I do relate to the stories about mean girls in middle school, the difficulties of soccer tryouts and the excitement of going to prom.

To be fair, not all of my co-workers are equally guilty. Some only mention their kids or elderly parents when they do something funny or say something inappropriate. Others wait until they have a story about their child that enhances the topic at hand. It’s even better when co-workers flatter my ego and ask my opinion about letting their teenage daughter try beer! (It’s fun for me to practice “solving” parenting conundrums especially when the outcome doesn’t affect my life).

Perhaps I’m cynical--I certainly am unfamiliar with the joys of parenthood--but I think when it comes to their offspring, parents should live by their own old-fashioned words of wisdom: speak only when spoken to.

1 comment:

  1. I love the info about writing radio copy. I feel inspired now!