Endorsement ads are easily separated into two categories: live reads and true personal endorsements. One is more effective than the other. Which are you getting? Are you sure?
The power of personal endorsement ads
Not since the days of Arthur Godfrey (Google it, kids), has anything on radio or television eclipsed the power of personal endorsements; a trusted friend persuades you to try something new. Good endorsers are hard to find, but so worth the search. Good ones weave engaging narratives featuring your business that rise above the din of other ads.
Unfortunately, what’s sold as “personal endorsement” is too often merely a “live read” by someone who has little to no connection with the client or what’s being sold. It’s just another ad delivered with all the warmth and sincerity of a generic on-hold greeting.
An objective standard for a subjective product
Each endorser is a special case demanding unique coaching. But, since each endorsement is its own special snowflake, how do you give them uniform evaluation? 31 years experience creating endorsement copy points and coaching talent has taught me to watch for how well six components are integrated in personal endorsement ads.
Before we get started, though, let’s first assume you have a branding strategy in place; endorsements are a tool, after all, not a strategy. With that said, check that your endorsements ads integrate all six of these components:
Six components of an effective personal endorsement
- Relatable: Choose a personality who’s relatable to your customers. If you’re selling mortgage services, an apartment dwelling disc jockey would be a bad choice. Do you really believe Shaq drives a Buick?
- Believable: When you first meet the personality, do they show a genuine interest in what you’re selling? If not, walk away. If they try and fake it, run. Listeners don’t blame personalities for a weak endorsement. They blame you.
- Specific: Provide specific proof points to substantiate the endorsement. It could be a first-hand experience the personality had with you, customer quotes, or something the endorser really likes. Specificity adds impact.
- Contextual: Personal endorsement ads happen in the here and now. Let your endorser give your message context; weather, holidays, events, news stories, etc. Anchoring your message to the real world reinforces authenticity.
- Credible: Your endorsement’s credibility is in direct inverse proportion to the number of endorsements made by your personality—and others on the station. Endorsements work best in limited supply. What do you call a girl who kisses all the boys? Make sure your personality isn’t one of those.
- I quotient : My favorite secret sauce of effective endorsements comes down to a single vowel: I. The more your personality uses it, the more effective your ad. I like it. I use it. I recommend it. I know you’ll like it. Boosting I’s boosts involvement which boosts your ads’ persuasiveness.
Grade your endorsement ads on a curve
There are several other lesser components I watch for, but these are the do-or-die ones every ad needs. Used together, they give you set of measures for evaluating the quality of your endorsements ads. Just remember: perfection is rare and not entirely necessary.
Few ads score perfectly. That’s okay—as long as you continue working with your personality to improve week to week. Yes, week to week. Personal endorsements are like orchids in the greenhouse of advertising. They need much attention, but deliver beautiful results.
Beware the downside of endorsement ads
One more point: Before going all in on these ads, please take this warning to heart: Endorsements work incredibly well—until they don’t. Think how bad behavior by Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods tanked their endorsement deals with Nike and others. Even Arthur Godfrey’s value took a nose dive after a famously bad decision.
Okay, you’re not Nike and Godfrey’s long gone. But, your local personality’s endorsement value is equally volatile. That’s why I recommend clients also run alternate non-endorsement campaigns in conjunction with endorsement ads. Endorsers are human, after all. And, your show must go on.