This week the hosts of NPR’s most popular non-news show “Car Talk” Tom and Ray Magliozzi announced in a post on their site “Time to Get Even Lazier”  that they would “stop and smell the cappuccino.” Car Talk has been on the airwaves for over 35 years of which 25 years has been on NPR. The Wall Street Journal  said that Car Talk had an audience of over 3.3 million every week in over 660 stations quoting Eric Nuzum NPR’s vice president of programming.
My whole family are fans and will miss them having listened to them for 15 years. Every time I have heard Car Talk all these years, this post has been on my mind. Here are my views on what small business can learn about marketing from the ” Click and Clack. the Tappet Brothers.” i.e., the Car Talk guys:
- Humor : Use humor to make your marketing messages more interesting.
- Tom and Ray Magliozzi turned a difficult and complicated subject — car repairs — into a humorous show that interested both the people who wanted to learn about repairing cars and also those who wanted to laugh along with them.
- Self-deprecation : Don’t be afraid to use this to make your audience laugh with you and not at you.
- When used with humor in my opinion the audience feels safe and not talked down to. Even people who are not experts enjoy the show as the hosts of Car Talk make fun of themselves and sometimes their audience in a very friendly manner.
- Dumbing Down: Making your message clearly understood no matter what the expertise of your audience is. Ann Wylie , a well known communication expert, says your writing should be understood at the 6th Grade level.
- The technical details of car repair and parts are made so easy to understand on the show that people at any level of expertise can understand. This is also reflected in the type of callers who call in to the show — they have all levels of expertise.
- Refresh and Recall: Use examples of your past successes and testimonials from your customers, past and present.
- At the end of every show the hosts ask a previous caller to let the audience know if the recommendation from them had worked or not.
- Call to Action: All messages should have a clear call to action of what you want the audience to do.
- Throughout Car Talk the audience is spurred for a call to action- donate a car, participate in NPR efforts or visit the “Car Talk Shameless Commerce” part of the Car Talk website (their e-commerce site where they sell T-shirts and other items).
Are you a fan of Car Talk? Will you miss them? What tips did you get from shows these like this or others you listen to? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Photo courtesy Flickr User WBUR  Boston’s NPR news station