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Don’t Look Like an Ad

My radio ads were roundly criticized when I first started doing them the way Roy H. Williams taught me. The biggest criticism was, “They don’t even sound like an ad!”


That was my goal.

Filters In Play
We are bombarded with advertising – over 5,000 advertising impressions a day! Our brains can’t handle all that info. Our brains don’t want all that info. Our brains realize most of it is useless and irrelevant. So our brains filter as much of it out of our lives as they can. If it looks or sounds like an ad, the brain shuts off and says don’t look, don’t listen.

The more your ads look or sound like everyone else’s ads, the less likely you’ll get the attention of your target audience. (Not to mention the less you’ll stand out in the crowd.)

Here is the script of the most successful radio ad we’ve ever run…

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking customers into the men’s bathroom. Yes, my staff was taking men and women, young and old into our men’s bathroom. And the customers were coming out laughing and giggling, oh yeah, and buying, too. I guess when you find a product that cool, you just have to show it off however and wherever you can. The men’s bathroom, gotta love it. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

I ran that ad in August 2008. I still have customers asking about the men’s bathroom two years later. It doesn’t sound like an ad. There was no music or jingle behind it. Just my voice plain and unvarnished.

It Really Works
It didn’t look or sound like anything else on the radio, so people heard it. And people responded. We have now sold over 2200 of the product hinted at in the ad, mostly because of trips to the men’s bathroom. That ad had legs because we were willing to be different from all the other advertisements on the air, which got us past the filter and into the minds of our customers.

One of the benefits of such an ad is that we also generated a lot of word-of-mouth from it. Everyone was talking about our ad, the local deejays, the newspaper, the local TV, and oh yeah, a whole bunch of customers.

The Wrong Way
But none of that would have happened if it looked and sounded like an ad. I could have written an ad like this…

It fills up your room with a starry night and puts your mind at ease. The greatest new sleep aids, the Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, are helping parents get their children happily to sleep. If your kids are struggling with bedtime, make sure you get them a Twilight Turtle or Ladybug for their room and watch the transformation. Bedtime becomes fun time when you have the Twilight Turtle or Ladybug in your child’s room. Available at the Toy House.

Sales would be in the dozens, not thousands with an ad like that. And I can guarantee no one would be talking about it.

Your message is good. You just need to deliver it more powerfully. When your ads don’t look or sound like ads, more people will pay attention.


PS For more examples of radio ads I have used, click here.

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