Plato once said, "Those who tell stories rule society." This quote sounds very familiar to rule #7 for creating a memorable commercial for Tampa radio:
Rule #7: Tell a story… listeners are hardwired to emotionally respond to features and benefits when presented in story-form rather than as a list. The advertiser should be the hero of the story.
Lee Habib wrote in the National Review a few years ago, "Stories are packed not with hard data but with something far more powerful: emotional data. That’s why we remember them and why they’re so easily transported, even through generations. Stories stir our souls."
Stories are the most creative way a Tampa Bay small business owner can market their business. And, according to Nielsen, it's the creative elements of a commercial that are most likely to convert radio listeners to paying customers. Creative is more important than reach. More important than frequency. More important than branding.
Put A Rainbow In Your Radio Commercial
Given a choice, which would you rather do?
- Ingest a bag full of sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, citric acid tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, artificial flavors, natural flavors, titanium dioxide, sodium citrate and carnauba wax.
- Taste the rainbow in a bag of Skittles.
People almost always choose #2 even though the choices are, in fact, identical.
Often time, Tampa Bay business owners will cram their radio commercials full of features, facts, and figures instead of creating a rainbow. Sadly, that's why some commercials go wrong.
For instance, I just heard a radio commercial for a local business that consisted solely of the store name, business hours, website address, phone number, and a few cliches about "fast and friendly service". There was no rainbow.
Every Rainbow Starts With A Story
In the most successful advertising, business owners create their own rainbows with stories.
According to an article in The Harvard Business Review, "It’s no surprise. We humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were cave walls."
HBR goes on to explain why storytelling is critical to effective advertising.
"Storytelling evokes a strong neurological response. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak‘s research indicates that our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments in a story, which allows us to focus, while the cute factor of the animals releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy. Other neurological research reveals that a happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system, our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic."
"In one experiment," HBR goes on to say, "After participants watched an emotionally charged movie about a father and son, Dr. Zak asked study participants to donate money to a stranger. With both oxytocin and cortisol in play, those who had the higher amounts of oxytocin were much more likely to give money to someone they’d never met."
Can A Business Story Be Told In Sixty Seconds?
Creating a story that reveals a rainbow with the 160 words that make up a 60-second radio commercial may seem daunting to most Tampa area small business owners. But consider that Ernest Hemingway, allegedly, once composed an entire novel consisting of just six words: "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."
Clearly, it is not the number of words that make the story. It's how the words are used.
Okay. So, most small business owners probably don't have the literary prowess of the man who wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls. With help, though, anyone can create a compelling story in 60-seconds or fewer.
For instance: There is a website in China where people submit stories and can be no more than a minute long. Here is one called "Heart Murmurs":
"Every day, the doctor listened to the heartbeats respectfully and with the utmost patience. Each one was different. He truly believed that one day he would find that old familiar palpitation. Donating her heart had been his wife's last wish. One day, he listened to the heartbeat of a female patient who had come in for a diagnosis. "You've had a heart operation?" "Yes," she answered. "A transplant?" he asked. She nodded. "Are you having any problems or pain with your new heart?" "No. I just came to tell you that she's doing fine and she loves you very much."
Heart Murmurs is exactly 100 words.
The Rest Of The Story
Think of it this way. Each word in a radio commercial costs a Tampa Bay small business owner about $2.50. So, each word is very valuable and should not be squandered. History and science tell us that storytelling is the most potent form of communication.Bottom line: In your next commercial on Tampa radio, don't spew facts...tell your story...let listeners taste your rainbow!