How Geico, Farmers, and Progressive Make Ads that Stick


(By Rick Fink) Nobody, and I mean nobody, listens to your stations for the ads. The trick is making people HEAR the ads! Unless your listeners hear the ads and have an emotional or logical connection, the ads won’t work, period!

So, how do you win in advertising? It starts with having a strategy. What does the business want to be known FOR? Then, you write interesting, funny, unique stories that speak to the strategy!

Why are Geico, Farmers Insurance, and Progressive remembered so well? Two reasons, mainly: they have great strategies and they tell stories.

Each company has its own strategy that appeals to different people with different wants and needs. You can’t be everything to everyone!

  • Geico has low prices, thus “15 minutes could save you 15% or more.” They never talk about how good their insurance plans are.
  • Farmers’ strategy is paying your claims, even the crazy ones. “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
  • Who can forget about Progressive? Flo and her friends are cute, funny, and unique. Their slogan(s) can be somewhat hard to remember as they change from time to time – “Name your own price” or “Think Easier, Think Progressive” – but their strategy remains steadfast. You can name your own price, and they are the place to bundle all your insurance together.

Are you talking strategy to your clients? Are you telling them the truth? The truth is that bad ads don’t work very well, even on the best radio stations. But GREAT stories can turn little-known companies like the Government Employee Insurance Company into a GIANT, even with an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny gecko!

Find out what your client’s business strategy is. If they don’t have one, then help them create one. Then write stories that speak to the strategy, and you will have success. The better the strategy, the better the story, and… the better the RESULTS! Everyone LOVES a good story!

Rick Fink from ENS Media can be reached at 605-310-2062 or at [email protected]. Read Rick’s Radio Ink archives here.


  1. Chris,
    Hello! A pretty powerful group of responders today!
    I learned a lot from yourself and Chris and have admired what John has done with his group. He is one of the GREAT broadcasters!
    Thank you for the response!
    Wishing you well!

  2. Here’s the problem: Most advertisers think and talk in cliches. Solution: An advertiser tells you, “We have friendly, trained, qualified personnel.” You say, “Tell me a story about that.” Then use the story instead of the cliche. It’s that simple. You can also get great stories from employees who deal with customers every day. And you can get even more stories from customers.

    • Chris,
      Great to hear from you!!!
      I agree with you.
      It’s our job to dig deeper, and get past the cliches and find things that are relevant that will make the business/product/service standout!
      Ask deeper questions and you get better answers, ultimately you’ll uncover a strong strategy. Once we understand and have a strategy, ( what the business wants to be KNOWN for) the stories/message becomes much easier to write and create!

  3. Stories sell. Not every advertiser “thinks” in stories, though. They think and talk in cliches.

    When a client says, “We have friendly, trained, qualified personnel,” your response should be, “Tell me a story about that.” Use the story instead of the cliche. You can get also stories from employees and customers if you’re willing to take the time and make the effort.

  4. I agree, Rick and Jeff, but I would add that I have seen many great stories/campaigns fail due to the lack of frequency AND consistency. Those 3 insurance companies dominate radio and tv in fighting for share of mind. Most businesses are relying on a quick fixes and building a great local brand takes a commitment to invest continuously (in good times and bad)to achieve success and beat the competition.

    • John,
      Your absolutely correct!
      A great strategy with little frequency and no consistency will never gain any traction!
      All criteria must be in place to be effective!
      1) Strategy
      2) Great Message
      3) Dominate
      4) Consistency
      5) Frequency
      6) Media Rep
      7) Medium
      These Seven Criteria for effective advertising is an article for another time!

  5. Good advice, Rick. That’s how the stations i work with prosper. I’m known as “Advertising’s Storyteller,” but each one of is a storyteller. My job is to help us tell better stories. Better stories engage listeners and touch their emotions, and that’s where buying decisions are made.


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