Broadcast Advertising Don’ts and More Don’ts.

Guest Post by Jim Morris

Don’t assume your audience is local, just because your business is.

Your radio or TV ad includes clear directions for how to find your store. “Just off the interstate at exit 31, east on Sanders Road.” Really? If I live nearby, that may be clear enough. But surely it has occurred to you that people passing through town, or people new to the community, listen to your advertising too. And these days, thanks to cable, satellite and the internet, if you’re on the radio or TV, your advertising is being experienced by a whole big world of people, some of whom are potential customers. Just because I live in Chicago doesn’t mean I’ll never find myself in Grand Junction, looking for a place to eat or buy tires or whatever. So don’t forget to mention the town, and maybe even the state, your business is located in. And if you insist on including the phone number in your ad, don’t skip the area code just because your entire community shares the same one. Allow for the possibility that someone the next area code over—or beyond—might want to call.

Don’t be irritating.

There is an old advertising school of thought that advocates doing anything that attracts attention and is memorable. This includes repetitiously jackhammering the name of your product or service or phone number, employing an announcer who screams, subjecting your prospects to a grating jingle or intentionally abusing the English language.

This old school approach is just flat out baloney. Research has repeatedly identified likeability as the single most powerful driver toward brand allegiance and the inclination to buy what you’re selling. Irritating is not likeable. If you’re advertising is irritating, your brand is a chronic irritant in the lives of those you’re hoping to lure. You don’t stand at the entrance to your business, relentlessly crashing cymbals together and jabbing everyone who wanders by in the ribs, do you? Why not? It’s certainly attention-getting and memorable.

Don’t do it yourself.

People are always telling you that you have a great voice and an irresistible personality so you should be the spokesman for your business. Who can explain your business better or more enthusiastically than you can, right?

Get real. Professional voiceover talents and on camera spokespeople make a living because they’re good at this very specialized job. You, on the other hand, are not, despite what your mom says. PLEASE corral your ego and leave this job to trained professionals.

And despite the general assumption that anyone can make an ad, coming up with an idea, writing and (in the case of TV) art directing, as well as producing an advertisement is something most people can do—very badly. But if you want an ad that actually reflects well on your brand and effectively communicates a compelling message, leave it to people who, unlike you, actually have the talent, expertise and experience.

By the way, if you’re a car dealer, please email me and let me know why you and your brethren are so flat out certain that you are somehow the exception. It’s not true that selling is selling. Your interpersonal and persuasive skills one on one with a customer in the showroom, have little or nothing to do with the quality of your voice and how effectively you read a script into a mike or on camera. Stop the madness. Find a more benign way to feed your ego.

Don’t repeat the phone number over and over.

If the person is persuaded by your ad, they’ll have no problem getting your phone number. Assuming they even use the phone any more for such things. The world is very rapidly modifying its consuming habits, and this includes Google searches, websites and emails often supplanting the phone call of old. Reading your number over and over burns a lot of valuable time that you could be using to deliver your benefit message more effectively, or underline a special offer or sale. Ask yourself whether having the customer call you is really a critical step in your sales process.

Don’t repeat anything over and over.

(See “Don’t be irritating” above)

Don’t bother with “www”.

For many businesses, including your URL in the advertising is far more likely to pay off than including the phone number these days. BUT, saying “www” out loud takes about two seconds. That‘s two seconds that you could devote to slowing down the frenetic pace of the script, or to making the read more friendly. In a 30 second TV spot or a 60 second radio spot, two seconds is a lot. Don’t squander that precious time. It may not have been true ten years ago, but today, “www” truly goes without saying.

Jim Morris, The Communicaterer, is a freelance copywriter among whose specialties is the creation of taglines. Examples of taglines he has written can be found on his website,

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