My friend Blaine Parker publishes a weekly newsletter targeted at radio advertising and copy writing folks. I always enjoy reading it because often Blaine makes points that apply to the world of voiceover. Today’s missive would be one such example. Here’s what arrived in my inbox a few minutes ago.
HOT POINTS for The Week of June 1, 2009
BULLET POINTS: LIVE AMMO, OR LEAD WEIGHTS?
We’ve just finished the first round of commercials for a new client. She’s a Lasik surgeon, and her patients absolutely adore her.
The commercials are testimonials, and they do something unique: in each one, a patient raves about the doctor, and the doctor in turn talks in glowing terms about the particular patient. She actually knows each patient and conveys a distinct fondness for him or her. It’s unlike any testimonial we’ve ever heard–in large part because she’s unlike any surgeon we’ve ever met.
Her commercials are poised and ready to leap out of the radio and grab you by the heart. If you don’t need Lasik, you’ll wish you did. She sounds that good.
Without being self aggrandizing, her commercials soar–due primarily to the fact that they are an accurate reflection of how she soars in her profession. And she decided she loved the commercials. She was excited. Ecstatic. Glowing. Then, she she did it.
She asked someone the dangerous question…
“WHAT DO YOU THINK?”
We don’t know if this is exactly how it went. But in essence, she sent these rich and glowing testimonials to a friend of hers. His first action was to do what so many well-meaning people who have opinions like to do. He opened fire.
He wants her to fill her message full of bullet points. In a 60-second message that is all about the patient–he insists he needs to know more about the doctor, including where she was educated, how many surgeries she has performed, and what her success rate is. In other words, in an advertisement that’s all heart, he demands more brain.
THERE IS EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT WHAT HE SAYS
It’s been proven that by credentializing a doctor in a radio commercial, call volume increases. There may be further evidence supporting the inclusion of the number of procedures performed. As for the success rate, that’s just folly. Even if you can claim a 100% success rate today, what happens when you no longer can? Do you then start claiming a 97% success rate?
Oh, yeah. In a world where people think it’s possible to win the lottery, that inspires confidence. But let’s put all those facts on hold for a second. Let’s consider merely that these intellectually satisfying bullet points are injected into the commercial. What would then happen?
THE MESSAGES STOP BEING ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE COMMERCIAL
As you know, the most important person in the commercial is the listener. The prospect. In this case, the prospective Lasik patient. In their present state, the testimonial patient is a proxy for the listener. And the doctor is there in the commercial, talking about how important that patient is–and by extension, the listener. Each patient essentially says, “I had this problem, and she fixed it, I was amazed at how much she cared about me, I love her.” About each patient the doctor says, “He had this problem, and it was vitally important that I fix it because he is so important, I love him.”
It’s one big doctor/patient love fest.
Where in this equation do you see room for, “Here’s where I went to school, here’s how many surgeries I’ve performed, and here’s how successful I am?” Include these allegedly missing pieces, and the commercial stops being about the patient and starts being about the doctor. A surgeon who exhibits none of the ego associated with surgeons–who exudes a spirit and a reassurance and a love unheard of in 21st century medicine–is suddenly trotting out her ego-massaging bullet points. A message that was soaring on gossamer wings of effusive patient success is suddenly being dragged back to earth by the leaden weight of “look at me” points.
The bullets are not ammunition. They are lead weights.
WHAT ABOUT THE EVIDENCE FOR THE SUCCESS OF THESE BULLET POINTS?
Excellent question. With an easy answer. As we all know, most local advertising–local Lasik advertising included–stinks. The reason is because no one creating it knows how to elevate it beyond the list of bullet points that characterizes most such ads. We have one of these guys locally. His advertising is all about how many years he’s been doing it and how many surgeries they’ve performed and blah blah blah blah blah. I personally know a man who went there for Lasik. They treated him badly and he walked around unable to see clearly for almost a year. This procedure scares people.
And when no surgeon understands how to make their advertising sound any different than anyone else’s, the only way to elevate oneself above the heads of the teeming throng is with credentials.
“I went to a better school than those guys and I’ve performed more surgeries. I’m your guy.”
Well then, since I’m scared, why not go to the guy who went to the better school and has more experience? When everyone else sounds the same, the best resume wins.
RESUME IS NO INDICATOR OF HEART
Our client has more heart than you could possibly imagine. She actually sent us our first check wrapped in a note emblazoned with a big, hand-drawn heart. She is a joy to work with and a gifted, wonderful person. She proves this daily by the way she treats her patients. And her patients love her so much, they give back.
There are very few surgeons out there whose patients will say anything close to this.
This quality puts her commercials so far above the competition, it’s staggering. Anyone can have a resume. Not anyone can prove they have heart.
The bullet points can come later. They can be seen on the website. They can be in a brochure. Patients can inquire. When the emotionally-rich commercial message overshadows everyone else in the market, that’s enough. Remember, the commercial is not a closing device. It’s a lead generator. It’s the most powerful word-of-mouth advertising we have. And when you’ve found emotional dynamite. You don’t need to “improve” it with bullet points.
Special is fragile. Protect it as such.
Your Short, Fat Creative Director in
Why put that long piece about radio advertising for a Lasik doctor on my voiceover blog? Because today Blaine brilliantly illustrated one of the most significant keys to your voiceover business success. Yes, you have to work hard. Yes, you have to relentlessly pursue new business and equally relentlessly work to keep your current clients satisfied. But in the middle of all that relentlessness, remember that you’re working for and with other human beings. The key is …
Love not only for your work, but for your clients. Think about how Blaine described this doctor. How she loves her patients, which in turn engenders love from her patients for her.
Love your clients. Care for each individual. Do it not because it can have a good business outcome. Do it because she or he is a human being, just like you.