Rick Fink: Still Wasting Words

    • 1490 posts
    May 4, 2023 11:39 PM PDT

    Still Wasting Words

    by Rick Fink

    I wrote on this topic nearly 4 years ago, and believe this or not, not everyone in the radio world read it, and if they did, they didn’t heed the message. Shame on us!

    Therefore, allow me to stand on my soapbox for a minute and speak once again to something I am very passionate about, or should I say, very passionate against!

    I’m referring to using phone numbers in radio ads. Regardless of what size market we drive through, while listening to the radio we still hear the dreaded seven-digit, or worse yet, ten-digit phone numbers. Yes, it’s still happening!

    Is it happening on your stations?

    The ONLY thing that could possibly be an even bigger waste of breath is when we do the unthinkable and repeat the ten-digit phone number.

    In recent weeks while driving to see clients, I went through small, medium, and even two major markets. I would guess that approximately 25-30% of the ads I heard included unmemorable seven and ten-digit phone numbers. Why?

    I realize that the business owner is usually the one that says, “I need my phone number in the ad; that’s how people reach out to me”. As media reps, it’s our job to explain to them how our medium is used and instead show them a better way to use those seven, ten, or twenty words.

    The listeners of your stations do not stand by with a pen in hand, waiting to write down a phone number from an ad they previously heard that may or may not air again in the next commercial break. It’s simply NOT how people listen to the radio. It’s not how people watch TV either. Do you have a pen and paper handy while watching TV?

    If the message is strong enough and creates enough desire, the interested consumer will find them. Nine times out of ten they will google the business name or speak into their phone and simply say, “Call Joe’s Pizza”, “Central HVAC”, or “Sioux Auto Sales”.

    There are only 5 scenarios when we should use phone numbers in radio or TV ads:

    1. When the number is very easy to recall – For example (prefix) – 1-2-3-4 or (prefix) – 20-20 (I’m still skeptical)
    2. It’s said in a unique way that makes it very easy to recall – For example “541- twoooo - sixxxx….seven – eight”! (Still skeptical!!)
    3. A vanity number – For example 541–BEDS, or 1-800 – GOT JUNK
    4. Direct Response ads - The rule of thumb is to repeat the number 4-6 times.
    5. When a business doesn’t have a website or social page. (Shame on them) 


    Let’s make the world a better place and eliminate phone numbers in radio ads!

    O.K., I am now off my soapbox! Thank you for allowing me to vent!


    NEVER Stop Learning - Get Better Every Day! 

    Rick Fink

    ENS Media


    ENS Media consults, coaches, mentors and trains managers and account executives at radio stations across North America to increase their local direct sales.  President Rick Fink is a 30-year veteran and managed one of America’s largest billing small-market radio sales teams. To learn how ENS Media can help increase your revenues and train your sales team, contact rick@ensmediausa.com.

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at May 4, 2023 11:46 PM PDT
    • 6 posts
    May 5, 2023 8:13 AM PDT

    AMEN!  I am thrilled someone is as passionate about this as I am.

    As a producer I do my best to educate SALES what to tell their clients to include and not include (The Customer Is NOT Always Right!).  Google is the new Yellow Page!  The NAME of the advertiser is much more important than the telephone number.

    The same goes for the address.  I challenge salespeople to check their client's front door to see if their address is even POSTED!  The advertiser's signage is what their customers look for -  it's more recognizable.

    Bottom line:  We need to educate advertisers to think more like their customers than as business owners.  When that happens, commercials become much more effective.