Guest post by Jeffrey Hedquist
The following article is excerpted from my good friend and talented radio voice and commercial producer Jeffrey Hedquist’s monthly Radio Hed Lines newsletter. In writing and performing radio commercials, Jeffrey is adamant that you have to tell stories. The same is true for books!
Here’s what he says:
People love stories. Bestselling books, top movies, the best radio commercials are great stories. Like a play, your commercial should have conflict, tension and resolution.
Each character in a radio commercial, even if it’s a simple one voice spot, should go through a transition, show some development. One character might change from a skeptic into a believer (at least partially). Another might start out frustrated and become fulfilled by the end of the commercial. If all your characters change as they would in a play, you’ll sustain your audience’s interest.
More than the voices, sound effects, music and technological tools available, your ability to tell stories is the greatest skill you have. An interesting story will involve your listener’s imagination, and the story becomes more their own, because they’ve participated in its creation.
Then, instead of trying to sell reluctant customers, you’re simply building marketing elements into a story that your audience is helping create. Magic? You bet, and it all happens around the individual electronic campfires we call radios.
Like radio commercials, a good novel, a great nonfiction book, poetry, children’s books, even memoirs require great stories. If you can tell stories, you can write and promote great books! — John Kremer
Jeffrey Hedquist creates short stories for the radio at Hedquist Productions, P.O. Box 1475, Fairfield IA 52556; 641-472-6708; Fax 641-472-6708. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more story resources, visit his web site at http://www.hedquist.com.
And here’s another story from Jeffrey:
People buy from people, not from institutions. Advertisers often forget this, and are more concerned about their perfect image than about relating to their audience as fellow human beings.
It’s not a perfect world, and listeners recognize this, so a commercial that tries to portray the advertiser as perfect doesn’t ring true.
Let the audience in on your little faults, the chinks in the armor. For example, the car dealer who says, “We have the best deals, the biggest selection, the friendliest salespeople, but…our coffee’s not so good,” allows the listener to discover his embarrassing secret. Don’t be afraid to joke about your hard-to-find location, the tacky sign you inherited from the former owner, the boss’s idiosyncrasies.
A little self-effacing humor can go a long way. Give listeners something to smile about. If a listener can say, “Yeah, that’s me. I’ve done that.” you’ve established a bond. Now your audience is involved.
Poke fun at yourself and punch up sales.