Leave it to the pros – making radio advertising work

If you read my column in the last issue, you discovered a way to gain an unfair advertising advantage over your competitors; i.e., by using a professionally produced jingle. The next logical step, in my opinion, is to advise you use clever ad copy that is professionally produced to work within your new musical identity.

You may agree or disagree, but I know for a fact that properly executed and correctly placed radio advertising works. If you decide to give radio a try you want "to get the best bang for your buck," right? That should always be your goal, whether you're paying with dollars or pizza (cash or trade). So, my suggestion is that you hire a professional firm, such as ARCA Studios, that specializes in creating radio commercials which attract customers. Sure, the radio station will create a commercial for you, probably for free, when you sign a contract to buy airtime from them. Does the expression "you get what you pay for" come to mind? It should.

Radio station personnel (the production manager and some sales reps) write copy for all of their clients all day, every day. Your commercial is just another "rush project" that must get done today! (Not to mention those four other pizza shops that have schedules starting tomorrow.) And only two or three people voice all of the commercials.

I once worked as production manager for a company that owned two radio stations, a news network and a farm network. Each entity had a sales force selling time and competing against each other. My responsibilites included writing commercials for the clients of a dozen sales reps every day. For a time, both stations were automated, meaning there were no live announcers working there. So, guess whose voice was heard on every commercial break?

Now do you begin to understand why so many spots sound so much alike … why so many don't get noticed … and why so many don't work for clients?

That's why independent production companies like ARCA Studios provide such a valuable service for advertisers. We exist because we are like a giant magnet to professional voice talent. When an advertising agency's creative director has a well-written, clever script in hand, he or she depends on one of their select few studios to have the voice-over professionals available who can breathe life into those written words. Seldom does an ad agency entrust a local radio station to execute its copy. Radio stations lack the resources available from a full service production firm.

You will find good audio houses scattered all across the nation. To stay competitive, we the studios must offer an extensive selection of voice talent and the latest technology in the hands of talented and experienced personnel who can use it to create a quality product in addition to dependable service. Each ingredient is essential if we are to attract and keep good clients.

Professional studios have an abundant supply of studio voices. ARCA Studios has over 100 non-union voices (men and women of various ages and ethnic backgrounds as well as kids and teens) readily available for a client's selection. For clients needing help with concepts and scripts, we, and other professionally-staffed studios, are blessed to have several freelance writers available on short notice; true craftsmen whose ideas capture the essence of the task at hand and motivate people to take action. Next, audio engineers/producers are creative sound designers who know how to select and mix just the right sound effects and your jingle or other licensed production music to support the voice-over. They create art that realistically imitates life in our four digital studios. Our support staff ensures that the right voices are cast to read your scripts, that the talent will be in the right studio at the right time, that your finished product arrives at its proper destination on schedule and that your invoices accurately reflect the charges you were quoted prior to your session.

O.K., the above paragraph is rather self-serving, but to quote a long-time client and advertising agency producer, "ARCA sets the standard by which we judge all other production companies."

To summarize, radio will work effectively for you if you find an experienced audio production facility to handle your work on a turnkey basis. Don't feel you must accept their first concept. If you don't like it, have them rework it. Make them a partner in your success. If their ads work for you, you'll be a repeat customer. If they don't, you'll be shopping around. A good production firm can position your business creatively and memorably, providing the best value in radio commercial writing and production.

AS A BONUS for readers of Pizza Marketing Quarterly, one of ARCA Studios wordsmiths has written two spots (on page 18) which you can use to build awareness of your pizzeria. If you like the concept and it applies to your place, make the appropriate copy changes to customize it and then determine who will produce it for you. If your local radio station has a large enough staff of talented people who can pull it off, they should produce it for free. If that s not an option, or if you don t like their finished product, find a few professional audio production facilities, listen to examples of their work and get firm price quotes.

Expect to find a range of between $100 to as much as $2500 per commercial. If you were to hire us to come up with a concept, write a commercial, cast and hire the talent, produce it with music and appropriate sound effects and supply you with copies ready for broadcast, our price would be $675.

As a valued PMQ reader, however, we will customize one of these commercials for $225.00 (or both of them for $405.00) if you place your order before November 2, 2001.

You can actually hear what the finished product will sound like (customized for a fictitious pizzeria) by going to the PMQ website and clicking Dick Marendt. We will write announcer copy specific for your store and ship the finished product on CD for your local radio stations to play. But remember, our special price offer is only valid if you order by November 2nd.

Dick Marendt is president and CEO of ARCA Studios, an audio production facility he started in 1975. Voice talent, writer and producer, Marendt and his partner, Clyde Snider, have regular clients in nearly every state in the US and on Guam. In their four digital studios located in Little Rock (Arkansas), they create radio spots, original mucis and advertising jingles and telephone messages-on-hold; they also produce audio for TV and video. Prior to becoming a studio owner, Marendt enjoyed a TV and radio broadcast announcing career in Louisville, Kentucky. Marendt can be reached at ARCA at (502) 224-1111 or email dmarend@arcastudios.com. ARCA's website is http://www.arcastudios.com.

FREE RADIO AD SCRIPTS

LUIGI'S PIZZERIA Pizza spot #1 CLICK TO HEAR

SFX (Sound Effects): NOISY RESTAURANT, VIDEO GAMES, KIDS YELLING

VOICE 1: HELLO, SIR, WELCOME TO PINKY'S PIZZA PLAYHOUSE!

VOICE 2: YES, UH, HI. I'D LIKE TO GET A TABLE AND HAVE SOME PIZZA PLEASE.

VOICE 1: OKAY! WHO'S THE BIRTHDAY BOY?

VOICE 2: IT'S NOT A BIRTHDAY…JUST ME. I JUST WANT TO GET SOME PIZZA.

VOICE 1: OKAY, HERE'S YOUR PARTY HAT!

VOICE 2: PARTY HAT? WAIT…DON'T YOU HAVE A QUIET LITTLE TABLE SOMEPLACE? MAYBE IN THE BACK (GETS CUT OFF)

VOICE 1: OH SURE! RIGHT BY THE PINKY'S FUNTOWN BAND! BOFFO! SHOW THIS GENTLEMAN TO TABLE 67 PLEASE!

BOFFO: SURE THING BOSS! (HONKAHONKA)

VOICE 2: (TRAILING OFF INTO RESTAURANT): WAIT…HOLD IT…I JUST WANTED A NICE QUIET DINNER…..

ANNOUNCER: LOOKING FOR GREAT PIZZA PLACE WITH A RELAXED ATMOSHERE? TRY LUIGI'S PIZZERIA. FANTASTIC PIZZA AND PASTA, GREAT SALADS, AND YOUR FAVORITE IMPORTED AND DOMESTIC BEERS…ALL IN A COMFORTABLE SETTING. WE'RE OPEN 11 AM TILL 11 PM SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. PLUS WE OFFER A COZY LITTLE LUNCH BUFFET MONDAY THRU FRIDAY.

SFX: (BACK TO PINKY'S)

VOICE 2(PITIFULLY): BOFFO, IS MY PIZZA READY YET?

BOFFO: ALMOST SIR. BUT FIRST, LET'S ALL SING ALONG WITH THE PINKY'S FUNTOWN BAND!

VOICE 2: GROAN!

ANNCR: FOR THE BEST PIZZA AND QUIET DINING, COME BY LUIGI'S PIZZERIA ON OAK STREET. AND WE PROMISE, NO CLOWNS.

LUIGI'S PIZZERIA pizza spot #2 CLICK TO HEAR

SFX: QUIET RESTAURANT

HOSTESS: HELLO, WELCOME TO LUIGI'S PIZZERIA.

VOICE 2: YES, UH, HI, I'D LIKE TO GET A TABLE AND HAVE SOME PIZZA PLEASE.

HOSTESS: OKAY! RIGHT THIS WAY.

VOICE 2: WAIT, THERE AREN'T ANY CLOWNS BACK THERE I HOPE.

HOSTESS: CLOWNS? I M NOT SURE I UNDERSTA…

VOICE 2: AND YOU'RE NOT GONNA MAKE ME WEAR ANY SILLY HATS ARE YOU?

HOSTESS (SEEN THIS BEFORE): AHH, NO SIR. NO PARTY HATS, NO CLOWNS, NO WAITERS NAMED BOFFO.

VOICE 2: HEY, HOW DID YOU KNOW…?

HOSTESS: YOU WENT TO PINKY S PIZZA PLAYHOUSE, DIDN'T YOU SIR?

ANNOUNCER: LOOKING FOR GREAT PIZZA PLACE WITH A RELAXED ATMOSHERE?

TRY LUIGI'S PIZZERIA. FANTASTIC PIZZA AND PASTA, GREAT SALADS, AND YOUR FAVORITE IMPORTED AND DOMESTIC BEERS…ALL IN A COMFORTABLE SETTING. WE'RE OPEN 11 AM TILL 11 PM SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.. PLUS WE OFFER A COZY LITTLE LUNCH BUFFET MONDAY THRU FRIDAY.

SFX: (BACK TO LUIGI'S):

HOSTESS: HOW IS EVERYTHING SIR?

VOICE 2: MMMMM. THIS IS GREAT PIZZA….BUT WHO'S THAT GUY WITH THE ORANGE HAIR I KEEP SEEING? HE'S NOT A CLOWN IS HE?

HOSTESS: NO. THAT'S JUST MARVIN THE BUSBOY. HE ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE THAT.

ANNCR: FOR THE BEST PIZZA AND QUIET DINING, COME BY LUIGIÕS PIZZERIA ON OAK STREET. AND WE PROMISE: NO CLOWNS. PMQ