Friday, December 31, 2010

Attention: Direct Response Radio Advertisers

Dear Direct Response Radio Advertiser:

If your product or service truly serves a worthwhile purpose, and provides a valuable solution to a significant problem...

And if your commercial message immediately engages a prospective customer, speaks authentically to a felt need, and genuinely resonates with that person... will find it unnecessary, even counterproductive, to bludgeon listeners with endless, mindless repetition of your toll-free telephone number.


Because - surprise! - the person who really wants what you're selling will remember you and will make the effort to find you and do business with you.

Now, if your product or service is akin to putting lipstick on a pig - e.g., credit repair scams, nutritional nostrums, wealth-building schemes and the like - would you please take your marketing elsewhere and just stop polluting the airwaves?

Radio is such a great medium, such a powerful marketing tool, one hates to see its potential squandered by fast-buck shysters.

Radio advertising sales professionals: let's make a concerted effort in 2011 to woo and serve the best products, services, and businesses we can attract.

Let's create great advertising for great clients, and not settle for less.


  1. My friend Phil Bernstein responded via a Facebook link to his blog, as follows:

    As a listener, I share Rod’s distaste for commercials that give the phone number ad nauseum. But I have a feeling that the folks who do these ads — the best of them, anyway — have a good reason they do it this way.

    The best direct response marketers in all media — radio, TV, direct mail, etc — test the heck out of their copy. And there are only two things that matter to them in a campaign where the call-to-action is a phone number: number of phone calls, and number of sales that result from those calls.

    My guess — and it’s only a guess, because I’ve never had a chance to ask someone who’s done the testing — is that they repeat the phone number so often because when they do it less often, they get fewer phone calls and make fewer sales.

    There’s some logic to this, because in many cases the phone number is unique to the campaign, and can’t be found in a phone book or on Google. The product might have a web site, but it may not be related to the radio campaign. And if the customer decides to find the product in a store, that’s not the “direct response” the campaign is designed to elicit.

    The most sophisticated marketers may be tracking results by station, by time of day, and by show. They may also be experimenting with, and tracking, other aspects of the copy and the offer

    If the object of THAT campaign is to get people listening to THAT station to call THAT number, they need to do everything they can to make sure the listener remembers that number and calls it, rather than trying to track the product down elsewhere. Giving the phone number over and over again is one way to accomplish that.

    The direct marketer’s job isn’t to entertain listeners, or make good radio. His or her job is to sell product. My somewhat-educated guess is that they pound the phone number for one reason: it works.

    But I’d love to know for sure. If you do direct-response radio work for a living — the kind where the only response that counts is a phone call to a specific number — and you’ve carefully tested a variety of methods, here are the questions of the day:

    1. How many times does the phone number need to appear in a :60 to generate the maximum number of calls?
    2. What happens when you deviate from that formula?

  2. They repeat the phone number in the futile attempt to help listeners remember — but the human mind is incapable of remembering random number strings. Have you ever heard an advertiser say “just visit us on the web, at ? No! That is why they invented domain names comprised of words! By the same token, advertisers can now dispense with random 800#s, and allow prospects to simply SAY the brand name or promotional keyword to connect. How? See it here: or or


Thanks for taking time to comment!