The Right Questions

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The Right Questions

One of my favorite (and least favorite) questions is “How do we start?” It’s a favorite because it should be an easy one to handle.  Right?  It’s a least favorite because to start you have to know where you want to finish.  You can’t get from here to there until you know where there is.   So, where is there and what is there?  To find that out, first you have to know, if you’re asking the right questions.

Let me take a brief step back.  There are two kinds of people in this world.  Planners and doers.  To paraphrase from a carpenter I once knew, planners measure twice and cut once.  They think of what could go wrong and prevent errors from happening.  Most of all, planners want to get it right the first time.

Doers take an eyeball measurement and dive in.  This leads to hemming and hawing and shoulder shrugging when an error pops up and someone asks how it gets fixed.

Needless to say I’m a planner.

I want to know where the finish line is and then plan backwards on the best course of action needed to reach that goal.

How’s that relate to a radio commercial?  That’s an easy one.  It means asking questions, the RIGHT questions, before anything ever starts.

So what are the right questions?  They’re deeper than ROI or demo.  Any first year journalism student knows the right questions are always:  Who?  What? Where? When? Why? and How?

Who is your product/service intended for?  Who is he/her?  Get inside his/her head as they go about their day.  Walk a mile in his/her head, so to speak.

What are they getting from your product/service that can’t be gotten from the competition?

Where should your product/service take the consumer emotionally?  Surf lapping against the shore? Center ice for the drop of the puck?

When is the consumer most likely to make an attachment with your product/service?  Get ‘em hooked and make ‘em come back for more.

Why should I buy your product?  Believe it or not, a lot of times this one gets pushed aside.  And this is the key question that needs answering before all others.

How should I buy your product/service?  In other words, go to a store? Call a phone number?  Go to a website?  While the ultimate goal of any advertising is the sale, at times it’s given too much attention at the expense of the features and benefits of your product/service.

Now, those questions are not the ONLY questions that need to be asked (and answered) prior to advertising, but they’re a start. Give us a call and we’ll start asking more questions right away.

Ian Cohen is Production Director at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the RSS link above. Visit our website