DJ endorsements: new rules

The strategy of using local radio personalities to endorse products has always been the darling of advertisers — and for good reason.

They live in your community, wake you up each morning, tell you what to wear and what’s going on around town.  And when they talk about the cars they drive, the mouthwash they use, the pancake syrups they pour, you believe them and rush to the store.  After all, your friend, that intimate voice that talks to you every day, is telling you what is really, really good.

And even though out-of-market syndications, local ownership erosion, and severe cost-cutting have put local announcers on the endangered species list, they are not extinct.  Unfortunately, this dwindling breed is often overtaxed with a plethora of endorsements and as such delivers them with the believability of children trying to sell you on their love of Brussels sprouts.

Yet following these new rules of engagement can still deliver this potent form of word-of-mouth marketing effectively, efficiently and with broad reach:

Choose carefully. There aren’t announcers in every market who can deliver with punch and emotion. But the ones who remain are modern pied pipers. They lead; legions of shoppers follow.

Get involved through training. You’ll need someone with your best interests at heart to work with announcers.

Make sure they’re really cooking with your olive oil. Teach them about brand benefits but encourage them to use their own language. In big markets, visit the station, and maybe even cater an event. The air-time buzz will be well worth the plane ticket.

Let them talk. It’s not about copy. Scripted agency copy will never sound as genuine as the word of mouth from your next-door neighbor. Delivering to the station door copy that reads, “Hi, I’m [your name here] and I just tried…” doesn’t work. Give announcers the freedom to use their own words. Don’t worry about missing tag lines or phrases that you thought really sang.

Go live. Announcers will never sound as natural as when they are live. The “ers” and “ums” and the occasional muffed word add to the sincerity. In the studio, announcers tend to perfect their speech to a level that becomes phony-sounding.

Stay on top of it. Get air checks immediately. If things aren’t going right, call the station and let them know. Tomorrow is another day. And they will know that their client is listening.

Extend the campaign through strategic engagement. At CRN we have had success for brands when personalities go beyond the simple on-air message. We’ve gotten them to: demonstrate products on YouTube for their listeners; talk about products from locations other than the studio, like from their own homes with products such as pet food; interview product experts on-air; undertake lifestyle-changing challenges themselves, like with the Navy SEALS; extend endorsements into sampling appearances; discuss the product on social media; and use the product on-air in the studio.

Don’t force it. Not every product begs for DJ endorsements. Even a good endorser may not be right for all products. No matter how glib sports announcers are, I’m not so sure they’re the right guys to give financial advice. When you’ve got the right match, use it. If not, have an alternate strategy.

Personalities and actual listeners are powerful persuaders when matched properly to strategic objectives of the brands and managed in a way that lets their authenticity shine. 

Seeking an educated opinion on one of your marketing challenges? CRN is here to help. Or call us at 203-407-3313.