Live Read Radio – The Marketing Tool That Separates Radio From ALL Other Media

So when’s the last time you bought a TV spot during the local 11PM newscast, and the anchor segued from the mayor’s press conference directly into telling folks all about how he loves your product? Or the last print ad you purchased where that publications’ most respected journalist wrapped up her article by reminding readers how much they really need to try your offer free for 30 days? Heck, has your mail carrier ever handed you a catalog and made of point of saying how you really should purchase the featured special on page 39?

Radio on the other hand has built its entire industry on the one-on-one intimate “trust and friendship” that listeners have with their favorite DJs and Talk hosts. Moreover, the hosts have the ability to work their own unique spin into endorsement spots. When they really do believe in it, their credibility helps sell the product or offer through (provided, of course, the offer is compelling). Accordingly, radio is the only medium that allows for such actually-broadcast first-person copy examples as……

Sports Talk Host for a Teeth Whitening Offer – “If you listen to the show with any regularity, and you know you do, you know two things….(my partner) Spindler’s fat, I have yellow teeth. Spindler’s fat, I have yellow teeth. Well ya know what? He’s still trying to lose weight, but to get my yellow teeth gone and do it quick, I just went to __________”

Talk Hostess for a Retail Chain – My producer Natalie wanted for her husband the perfect sports gadget, so she went to _______________ and bought _____________.

#1 Morning Soft Rock Host for a Cooking Device – “We were going to eat at home, my wife bought some hamburger meat, so we were gonna do some grillin’! And I got VERY excited because I got the coolest new gadget. (Addressing his “Morning Team”) You guys would love this. Mike, I know you would like this. Fay, your husband Chris would like this. Shawn would like this, but I think it’s more of s a Cindy gadget………………”

In direct-marketing copy terms, this is what’s called “The Attention-Getter!!”

Admittedly, radio personality endorsements are not always necessary. Personality Reads can require a certain length of commitment, are mandated on the broadcaster not already having an exclusive commitment elsewhere in your product-category, and are much more expensive (there are not a ton of remnant live reads to be found). It can take a few weeks to assure the broadcaster will agree to endorse your product and read copy the way you want it. And as a tip – staying on top of them weekly or bi-weekly is an accepted practice, but micro-managing them WILL backfire on you. Plus, you will need to assure mp3s of all the spots are sent to you to monitor and make sure the offer was properly read in every single one of them – a task that adds time to the overall process.

However, they can also be your greatest asset. Personality Reads make sense when your product or offer has a story to tell, one that needs to be made personal in order to build credibility. They make sense when you can identify a spokesperson’s core audience as being the heart of your target demographic. They are HUGE credibility boosters, and over the long haul, can actually become a part of the programming to which listeners make a point to listen. The advantage of your copy being read by the very people whom listeners tune in to be informed or entertained by is that your potential audience actually WANTS to hear the spot!

Several personality-related approaches can be taken by marketers to tap into radio’s unique relationship with its audience. Here are the variations and assessments:

LIVE READS – the king of radio advertising techniques. The very means by which Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh put Snapple on the map (a full 2+ years before Wendy went on TV to say “Hi, from Snapple!”). These are almost always heard when coming back from commercial break and before the main content of that segment, but sometimes heard DURING the content itself. Live Reads are generally :60, but the best spokespeople/stations can have compelling mini-anecdotes which can last upwards of 2 to 3 minutes!! Or be woven into the program itself for minutes on end (a personal classic story involves the notorious Opie & Anthony segueing seemlessly from a comedy skit about, ahem, alternate-lifestyle Disney characters, right into a spot for an automotive security product). Occasionally, hosts are more apt to invite a client spokesperson on air after they’ve built a repoir with their live reads over time. ON the flip side, they are THE MOST expensive form of spot advertising and do require length of commitments which vary. They tend to pay out most when the offer is a high-ticket return (ie – a $29.95 offer won’t work here).

RECORDED ENDORSEMENT READS – usually the best overall value which gives you the best of all worlds. A recorded :60 endorsement by your spokesperson, which can run at any time on the station, and at a less expensive spot price. You lose the above-listed benefits of live reads, but your financial risk decreases, and the opportunity to increase frequency increases. As an aside, some stations have policies either for/against running recorded reads in the same daypart as a personality broadcasts live, so be sure the deal makes sense; still other stations insist these spots have music beds underneath them, which can decrease response, so be alert.

RECORDED NON-ENDORSEMENT READS – same as last item, except the personality implies endorsements, without actually stating they use the product/service, or give first person anecdotal testimony.

NON-PERSONALITY RECORDED SPOTS – every radio station has their own “character actors”…..those familiar voices whose names you don’t know, but whose voice you hear during promos, liners, teasers, news updates, etc. For the lowest budget “personality marketing” on radio, you always have the option of have one of those folks record your spots. The personal testimony and endorsement aspect are rendered useless, but it’s the least expensive way of giving your spot a familiar station sound.

Again, there is a unique reason we all tune into our favorite radio personalities. You as a marketer have an opportunity that no other medium affords to test the viability of calling attention to your offer by co-branding with the “celebrity” for whom people tune in. And until TV allows you the opportunity to have Simon Cowell or the Desperate Housewives starting dropping calls to action in the middle of their episodes, radio’s been making the concept work for roughly 87 years now.

Joe Rashbaum is president of The Radio Solution Company, a radio direct response agency and consulting firm celebrating 11 years of success. Reach him at (805) 279-3391 or inquire below.

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