Trivia buffs know that the first video MTV aired when it began broadcasting more than two decades ago was based on the song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. Needless to say, the idea that radio would soon be dead was greatly exaggerated.

In fact, Arbitron's 2005 edition of Radio Today recently reported that each week radio reaches more than 94% of Americans 12 and over, and they spend an average of 20 hours per week listening to their favorite stations.

Sure, this is media (like all media) undergoing change; satellite radio and internet radio are examples. But with those strong "listening" numbers in evidence, it's easy to see that radio remains a viable and effective tool for reaching all segments of the market.

Thus, you dismiss radio advertising at your marketing peril. Yet, the question remains, how can your spots stand out from the crowd? The answer can mean the difference between a total waste of marketing money and a radio spot that quadruples image and response for your company.

A principle I preach over and over is: you cannot stand out by sameness. I'm usually talking about Yellow Pages advertising when I try to convince people to forget the tired graphic clichés and the "now in our 49th year" boasts. But the same principle also holds true for radio advertising.

The choice is yours. You can stick to the same-old, same-old, or you can leave mediocrity behind and transform your radio advertising by employing the following techniques:

An Engaging Message — "Engaging" doesn't mean telling a prospect how great you are. It means telling the customer specific ways how your company, products and services will benefit him.

Interesting Scripts — I hate to break it to you, but dull doesn't sell. And clever scripts don't happen by accident; they're created with the audience in mind, and they make their points succinctly and stylishly.

Regrettably, many salespeople offer to write radio copy for free, but believe me, that costs you even more. Although professional copywriters can charge hundreds of dollars a piece for effective scripts, they're worth it!

In the next important step, script and message are effectively conveyed with:

Professional Production — A monotone voiceover struggling to read through a boring script is no match for high production quality that involves professional talent, sound effects, and music. With the first, the listener immediately seeks the next station; with the second, the listener is drawn in and eager (or at least interested) to hear the offer. Now, isn't that what you want?

Certainly, radio remains a great way to penetrate a market, but you've got to do it right. And that includes relying on the proven means that make any marketing effective — communicating a message that shows benefit to the consumer in a quality, professional way.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. Call 800/489-9099 and ask for the free 16-page report called "Get More Leads in Less Time" or visitwww.hudsonink.comfor many other free marketing articles and reports. For a free marketing newsletter, fax the request on your letterhead to 334/262-1115.