WordsThat Don’t Matter

Let me start by saying that I have never been paid to write a radio commercial.  When I was taught how to, in Radio School at NAIT (class of ’99, baby!), Justin Bieber’s biggest accomplishment was drinking juice by himself and I needed to borrow money from my mom to go to “25 cent draft night” at Club Malibu.  Yea, I just dated myself.

Here’s what I DO know: you’re smart and to disrespect your intelligence is down right insulting.  The top 3 most disappointing words used in radio advertising are: best, very and any word that follows ‘your’ and ‘needs’ in the sentence; “For All Your ____ Needs.”

1.  Very

Very is the least powerful word in the English language.  You can delete it from any sentence, and most of the time, the sentence still makes perfect sense.  Also, consider this: When was the last time someone tried to convince you to do something or buy something, and after a decent sales pitch, you said “no thanks”.  But then -like a vision of the world’s best salesmen- they gave you the EXACT same pitch but added the word”very” to it!  WOW!  Would your reaction be, “Oh, my goodness! YES!  Now I want to do that or buy that right this second before there aren’t any left!!.”

That wouldn’tt happen, because you’re smart.

The word ‘very’ is about as powerful as a pea-shooter, as sharp as a wooden spoon and as effective as me on 7 beers and 20 minutes sleep.

1.  Best

The word ‘best’ is so factual, so definitive, so uncompromising that it’s impossible to believe.  Usain Bolt is the BEST 100-meter sprinter in the world.  That’s a fact.  That’s indisputable.  That’s a rare effective use of the word.  Your business has the “best” prices?  The “best” service?  The “best” fill-in-the-blank?  Really?  My initial reaction is to think you’re either a) deserving of international news coverage (like Usain Bolt) or, b) you’re lying.  Chances are, however, that it’s c) you’ve not thought about how people understand the word ‘best’.  There is no grey area with the word best.  Either I hear it, and believe your claim (ie, Usain Bolt’s running ability) or it washes over me unnoticed.  It’s a word that dares me to call you a liar or just tune you out.

3.  For all your ___ needs.

Every time I hear this sentence in a radio advert, I want to reach through the speaker and have a “close talk” with the person who wrote it.  It’s so vast, so outrageous, so nondescript.  If you’re proud of the price of your good, or quality of your service; show the consumer, don’t tell them.  “Telling” is so totalitarian and one-way.  To “show” is inclusive.  Here’s what I mean.

If the competitive edge of your business is service, and you TRULY believe it, then give me an example.  Show me.  “At XYZ Furniture, we bring your new dining room set to you for free.”  That’s more powerful than “for all your furniture needs.”



2 responses to “WordsThat Don’t Matter

  1. This blog post was very good. Might even be the best one I’ve ever read. It will definitely help me with all my future commercial writing needs. Thank you.

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