Joe & Frank

The art of seduction and selling

I’ve written often about story-telling.

It’s the natural human condition to create narratives, and to be drawn to the narratives of others. Our brains generate stories even while we sleep.

I know very few radio stations that are allowed to market themselves these days but that shouldn’t stop you from using stories to make emotional connections with your listeners.

First, take 90 seconds and watch the latest ad created for McDonalds:

This spot tells a story every male and female above the age of 15 can understand.

The themes are loneliness and friendship, with a bit of hope thrown in, and you didn’t once hear a mention of McDonald’s coffee, or breakfasts, or “seniors.”

But everyone who sees this spot gets the message. They understand that McDonalds is a place to meet, to share an iced frappucino, a social destination.

I’ve seen very few TV spots for radio stations that are really good at story-telling.

The best were all created by Carolyn McLain, but she was always fighting a lonely, uphill battle to persuade GMs and VPs that indrect selling would work.

99.9% of radio stations wanted a spot that trumpted a Morning Show Birthday Game, or played 3 or 4 song hooks with dissolving artists images, yelling about “at work” or “most variety.”

As our economy improves, I choose to remain hopeful that some radio companies will free up money to produce and fund real marketing campaigns for their stations.

When that happens, I hope you remember this spot.

I hope you remember that human beings are drawn to stories, and that the way you make listeners FEEL about your station is far more important to your long term success than boasting about how many songs you play, or how broad your library is — claims no one believes any longer.

I hope you’ll call Carolyn and ask her to tell the stories of your station, of your listeners, using pathos, and humor, and sensitivity, to create images that everyone connects with emotionally, so that every time its seen, and then every time your station is heard, your story resonates with theirs.

I hope that even if you don’t have the budget to do a real marketing campaign, you will try to find ways to tell stories using your own web site, or YouTube, because there are hundreds of stories waiting to be told, and millions of listeners waiting to connect if you just try.

Hope may be a fragile thing, but its better than the alternative.

And isn’t it interesting that the female character’s name in that spot is “Grace”?