Radio Blog

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The Art of Understatement

Increase the believability of your radio commercials by understating the benefits. Benefits are all the listener cares about, but they have to be realistic.

Features and benefits tend to get overblown. So much of advertising is based on hyperbole. Advertisers feel they have to promote themselves as the greatest, best, cheapest, largest, most efficient, latest, coolest, most fun. After hearing claims like this a few thousand times, consumers don’t buy them anymore. We (and our clients) sometimes forget this. When we continue to use these adjectives, they become part of the great wave of “commercialese” that simply washes over us. They just blend into the background and signal the listener that there’s no need to pay attention. Not exactly what we were hoping for.

Do something different. Tell the truth. Simply be more conservative in the claims you make in the commercial. You’ll catch the attention of the listener and increase your client’s believability. With benefits we tend to be more realistic, because we’re describing the effect a product or service can have on someone’s life.

Ask yourself what the true benefit would be to the buyer. Then talk about the benefit in realistic terms. Describe how the buyer will feel.

“We can’t promise you’ll turn heads or stop traffic everywhere you go wearing this shirt, but we can say that you’ll feel cozy with the soft brushed natural cotton next to your skin, and you might be a little more confident knowing the 5 color plaid goes as well with jeans as dress khakis.”

“How much can you save if you buy a new system during our grand opening sale? Enough to buy 12 of your favorite CDs. Now that’s something to listen to.”

“We understand that adding 3 tellers and 2 loan officers from 11 – 2 won’t completely eliminate lines, but we hope they’ll move a little faster so you’ll have time to do your banking and still get lunch.”

Listeners are pretty smart. You may get more of them to respond when you under- promise and make more of them into repeat customers when you over-deliver.

Jeffrey Hedquist at Hedquist Productions, Inc. Email

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