Words Matter

74The words you use can make all the difference in the outcome of whatever you’re trying to do. Visual mediums can get lazy with wordcraft thinking the visuals will carry the message. Radio can’t.

Writing Persuasively

Colleges teach two kinds of writing: creative and journalistic. One is made of whimsy and the other is fact-based. Effective radio ads are written to persuade. Few do.

Cliché Town

In my sales class we spend time exploring how to write messages that cause the listener to see themselves doing what it is we want them to do. People must first envision something in their mind before they will ever actually do it.

Walt Disney said:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

So you’d think that when my students produce their radio ads in their sales presentation during finals week they would be filled with persuasive wizardry. They’re not. They’re filled with all of the tired old clichés that comprise most radio ads. Why, because they’ve been brainwashed with them without even realizing it. Even though they have no impact, rating a big zero on the persuasive scale, they are still filling their brains.

Clichés Have No Father

While we’ve all heard them – like “plenty of free parking,” “committed to excellence,” “fast friendly service,” “these prices won’t last long,” “in business since 19–,” – and know them, we have long stopped connecting them to anyone or any business. They are in a sense orphan phrases that fill-up an advertisement but don’t deliver the goods. And they usually are what cause an advertiser to say “radio doesn’t work.”

You don’t listen to clichés and neither will anyone else.  Stop using them.

Google It

George Johns is a famous programming consultant and he puts it this way:

“He who controls the language controls the budget.

We don’t Bing or Yahoo things we Google them.”

Google means search. It’s why the parent company re-branded itself from Google to Alphabet.

What’s Your Point?

Whether you’re selling advertising for your radio station(s) or you’re writing radio copy for one of your clients, you should distill your message into a single compelling sentence.

The last presidential election had two candidates. One candidate made a consistent, compelling point and the other had a “basket of deplorables.”

Long after people have forgotten all the dry details of the race, they will never forget those red ball caps and that single compelling sentence.

Final Point

It’s a New Year and time to stop using worn-out words and tired old clichés. To quote the great advertising man David Ogilvy:

“You cannot bore someone into buying your product.”


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

21 responses to “Words Matter

  1. Absolutely! Reach out and grab someone by the ears! Thank you, Prof. Taylor. Clark, Boston http://www.broadcastideas.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Anthony sent me this link. It shows you can persuade even without words. The secret, however, is the same. Win their hearts and their minds/wallets will follow. (Something Roy Williams taught me 20-years ago)


  3. Arnold Podair

    So many people are still writing price-item spots and wonder why results are poor.


  4. Larry Justice

    Hi Dick….TRUE…spark the imagination…great blog


  5. doug stephan

    Take it from someone who does lots of ad lib endorsements, the mature voices will survive and thrive using this technique..just think of what MOTIVATES you and amen to brother Dick!


  6. Quentin Sawatzky

    “Bad ads are about you, your company, your product, your service.
    Good ads are about the customer and how their sun will shine brighter, the air around them will glitter with magic, and the stars in their darkness will twinkle more richly if they choose to bring you into their world.” Roy H. Williams, “Monday Morning Memo” from January 9, 2017.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “”The last presidential election had two candidates. One candidate made a consistent, compelling point and the other had a “basket of deplorables.” “”

    No, the last presidential election had one qualified candidate, and one unqualified, mentally unstable, dishonest, dangerous fool who plagiarized a trite old slogan and plastered it on a baseball cap, while making campaign proposals/promises that consisted of violations of the Geneva Conventions such as theft of another country’s natural resources, and the murder of non-combatant civilians; along with threats to violate the U.S. Constitution by curtailing the free press and religious persecutions. And that is by no means a complete list of his proposed atrocities.

    But that will have to do, because I doubt I could fit it all into a :60.


  8. Bill Cain

    One name comes to mind; Dick Orkin. And my mantra from CBS’ 60 Minutes Don Hewitt, “Tell me a story”. “Its the car deal you’ve been dreaming of” dreamt no one ever.


  9. T. Jay Dexter

    Radio & TV commercials I absolutely despise:

    1) Commercials that start out with the word, “Attention!”. There is even one advertiser that knows that one word cliche doesn’t work — so they say it TWICE at the beginning of their ad!

    2) Unless it is a classic annual commercial, like the Cadbury Creme Egg Bunny commercial, change up your commercials! Seeing the exact same Hairclub commercial for years on end, or hearing the same SelectQuote, “I just took a call from _____ who is ____ years old….I got them a term life policy for $xxx” story, only changing the names and ages is lazy. And the Ambulance Chasers who use the same script, only to change the lawsuit “product of the month”, with the lawyer doing the exact same body movements every time.

    Too bad there aren’t more Dick Orkins, Stan Frebergs in the world or commercials with catchy jingles like there used to be.


  10. I am trying to post more attention getting headlines on my blog. So far the one that has gotten the most clicks is, “My Why.” I am glad I discovered your blog. Great sound advice to an aspiring copywriter like myself.


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