Three Things Every Radio Advertiser Should Know

In my former life as a partner in a jingle/commercial production studio, and throughout my radio career, I’ve learned a lot about radio commercials. It goes beyond what a person likes or dislikes.  It’s what works! 

Listeners get only 30 seconds to grasp the message.  Chances are, they’ll realize the ad is about something they’re interested in and then hope to hear it again to get more info.  Think about busily doing something, you hear something that interests you but you’ve now got 18 seconds to find a pen or a way to write down the phone number!  Which leads me to my list of three:

1. Avoid using a phone number in the ad unless it can be spelled out as your business name or something memorable.  It’s a waste of air space and people won’t remember it.  You’re better off driving home the name of your business and your website and people will figure out how to contact you.  “But everyone uses their phone number!”  Well, lots of clients still do and in my learned opinion, it’s foolish.  It clutters up the commercial and takes away the time you could use to say your company’s name or website again.

2.  You may not be the best person to voice the spot.   Oh, it’s fun to have your friends say they heard you on the radio, sure, but as an example, there is a client-voiced ad that’s running right now in which the client sounds as if he is learning to read and sounding out the words as he goes.  It’s so distracting to hear this amateur amid a sea of pros that the message is lost.  Clients will say, well I’m paying for it and it’s my business so I can do what I want! Sure you can.  You can also stand in a strong wind and toss $100 bills into the air if you like.

3.  Solve a problem for the listener. Joe and Jane Average truly do not care that you have a warehouse full of stuff that MUST GO!  They care about their own home and their own life.  So figure out how your stuff will make their life better and take that approach.  Will it save them money?  Is it a newer, better, whatever?  It’s a mantra among good commercial makers – solve the listener’s problem and you’ll solve your own.  In this case, the warehouse empties out.

There are other ways to improve the experience of advertising on radio.  Some clients are convinced that they have to go outside of the radio station’s creative department and announce staff to get a good commercial made.  This isn’t necessarily true!  What they do have to do is stay with the team through the process of making the spot and have a little faith in them.  You wouldn’t expect to call a plumber and then stand over him and tell him how to do his job.  It’s the same with radio.  It may just seem simple but like so many professions there’s a lot going on in layers that you don’t appreciate unless you’ve actually been doing it a while.

1 thought on “Three Things Every Radio Advertiser Should Know”

  1. This should be required reading for every broadcasting course, and everyone who’s graduated from one…not to mention the myriad would-be advertisers out there! Surely some marketing magazine (or Broadcast Dialogue) can spread this gospel?
    Love the “phone number” tip. There are some jingles where we in the studio just sing along and shout out random numbers – they’d be easier to remember than the ones in the jingle! $100 bills in the wind, indeed. Well done, Lisa.

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