Editor’s note: This is an update to an article originally published in April 2018.
Have you heard that radio advertising is on the decline? That radio ads are less effective as they once were? The opposite couldn’t be more true! We might see a decline in traditional radio spot voice over jobs, but ‘radio’ is beginning to take on all sorts of forms in today’s day and age. For instance, the many streaming services and podcasts are making the ‘radio’ spot relevant once again. With that, creating impactful radio campaigns is just as important as ever.
From an advertiser’s perspective, the average 30 or 60-second radio commercial represents a point-in-time, golden opportunity to tell a story, reach the listener deeply, and seal the deal in terms of reinforcing the value of the brand and turning the call to action into, well, action.
In short, it’s a magic moment. And if advertisers tell their story in the right way, they benefit from one of the most effective marketing mediums in history – audio.
Great commercials are great because they follow the same rules of great conversation. They’re simple, direct, and honest, and the folks who write and produce them aren’t afraid to throw a little bit of themselves into the mix to make them human and memorable.
7 Tips to Creating Great Radio Advertising
Here’s a rundown of some tips to draw upon as you consider how your own message might look – or rather sound – on radio, and how that perfect radio commercial needs to be crafted:
1. Your Radio Ad Should be Credible
Honesty is the best policy. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Avoid dramatizations. Don’t scream your message. Don’t sound like the huckster on the corner at the county fair. Just tell your story and let your product or service speak for itself
2. Funny Radio Ads Can be Effective
A bit of humor can go a long way, but make sure it aligns with your chosen theme. And over the course of a campaign, make sure you vary the message to keep it from going stale.
Here’s a great example from Marmite, a British toast spread. It’s funny enough to make it memorable, but not over-the-top that might make it memorable in a ‘bad way.’
3. Use Problem/Solution Structure in Your Script
You’ve only got a few precious seconds to convince listeners why they should care. A problem/solution-based approach covers a lot of ground in no time at all.
4. Your Radio Ad Voice Over Script Should Speak in Specifics, Not Generalities
The more focused and detailed you are, the more you stand out. Every car gets great gas mileage, but only yours can cover 800 miles on a tank, enough to get you from here to Vegas and back.
5. Focus Your Offer
Whatever your offer is, it must relate to the product being sold – this is not a time to be vague.
6. Write Your Ad with Your Audience in Mind
Your listeners are likely at the wheel, so they can’t just drop what they’re doing and write it down. If you’re using a phone number – which hopefully is an easy-to-remember one to begin with – repeat it at least three times. Split up the last four digits into two sets (for example, 2377 becomes twenty-three, seventy-seven)
7. Avoid the ‘Next 30 Callers’ Trap
Most of your listeners are driving, and many won’t bother to call you in the moment, assuming that they’ll be too slow to take advantage of what you’re offering. Punch the ending. Always end the spot with whatever you want them to remember most. If you do want them to take advantage of a promotion, consider offering them a memorable offer code that they can provide while ordering online, by phone or in person at your business.
Considerations When Choosing a Voice Actor in Your Radio Advertising Campaigns
Do you know what kind of voice you want? Picking the right voice is of great importance as that voice will brand your company and likely be the first point of human contact for your customers.
The attributes of your brand voice, as well as the target demographic you’re trying to appeal to can have influence over whether you decide to go with a male or female voice over actor. When it comes to gender, there are no hard rules. For instance, some companies may select a female voice as a way to appeal to a female audience, where another company may also choose a female voice with the intention of connecting to a male audience. Your choice of gender depends wholly on your brand and what you feel will resonate best with your target customer.
Here’s an example from Cadillac that features a man’s voice, which appeals to a male audience.
Age, Accent and Style
Remember to think about the age, accent, style, when selecting a voice. Write down what you know about your customers and select a voice that best reflects their demographic and meets their specific needs. Research has shown that most advertisers prefer to select a voice over that sounds the same as their target audience.
Interested in hearing some voice over samples? Sign up for a free Voices.com account, post a portion of your script, and receive free custom auditions within 24 hours!
8 Best Practices For Booking Your Radio Advertising Campaign
To get the most out of your next radio station buy – and maximize the mileage from any campaign – keep these tips front and center:
1. On traditional radio, stick to prime time
Many radio stations will insist on spreading your commercials around the clock. They’ll dangle cheap slots in the wee hours of the night to offset the relatively higher costs of morning- and afternoon-drive airings. They call them “wide rotators,” and you shouldn’t take the bait. Remember when your audience is captive: During the drives to and from work. Anything else that doesn’t connect you with your target audience is a waste of resources.
2. Ask for bonus weight on your chosen radio station
Purchasing a certain number of spots over a given period of time can give advertisers leverage to ask for more. Make sure bonus spots air during times that meet your marketing requirements.
3. Consider mixing produced spots with local host endorsements
Some outlets allow local hosts to endorse advertisers’ products and services on-air. This is particularly popular when it comes to podcast advertising.
The benefit of the host endorsement spot is that listeners are more likely to actually hear your brand’s spot because it’s coming to them mid-show. Many times, listeners will change the radio station when they anticipate a block of radio ads are about to begin. Getting your brand or product endorsed mid-show in the morning or evening really does heighten your chances of listeners hearing about you.
Also, depending on the talent, this can be a powerful reinforcement of the brand’s value proposition, as listeners who may not otherwise be interested might very well chime in if their favorite host is a fan.
Study the on-air talent roster to better understand who might already be providing on-air endorsements.
4. If you use host endorsements, reach out often and make thoughtful gestures
Relationship-building is crucial to establishing powerful campaigns. It raises the power of a simple endorsement to a personal message that resonates even more strongly with listeners. It never hurts to be a fan and supporter of the show you’re advertising with.
5. Leverage promotional value
Look to the promotion department to expand the reach of a given campaign. Many stations and podcasts will add promotional consideration in exchange for providing value-in-kind products and services for giveaways, remotes and other on-site and on-air activities. Negotiate larger multipliers – example: advertiser provides $1,000 worth of product in exchange for $10,000 in promotional value – by entering negotiations with a firm plan.
6. Treat online streaming as a bonus
Many radio stations will ask for additional payment for online streaming. Don’t pay for the privilege. Instead, ask for it as a bonus. Bandwidth is cheap, and unlike conventional ad slots, it doesn’t compete against other commercials for online airtime. Asking for it to be tossed in is an easy win.
7. Ask for interviews
If the podcast or radio show you’re advertising with is a news-talk format, ask for interviews with the hosts. Not all hosts will bite – careful separation of editorial and advertising-based content often precludes such arrangements, while some show formats simply don’t have room for interviews – but it’s worth researching to see if it’s even an option.
8. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Ask for examples of similar advertisers’ successful campaigns, then work with your broadcast partners to replicate the formula. Keep in mind that different approaches may work differently for individual shows, stations, formats and markets. But generally, broad understanding of what worked previously under similar circumstances can maximize the potential for a successful campaign.
Radio Advertising Will Remain Relevant, Keep the Medium Alive for Your Brand
There is a lot of buzz out there about the decline of radio and the very noticeable growth in all things digital media. But those worlds are intersecting more and more. An investment in radio can also be an investment into digital media channels as well. Though traditional broadcast radio is still important, the medium has done a wonderful job of adapting with the times by growing into online streaming options and more.
So, keep radio in mind when you’re weighing out your promotional channels!