How To Write A Great Radio Ad!

If you’ve listened to some radio ads lately you may have picked up on something, right as you punched the button to change the station. And that is that most radio spots, and by that I mean about 97%, are boring or just plain annoying... and boring.

One problem is that many advertisers rely on the station to write and produce their spots. And who can blame them? The stations usually offer those services for free. And the word “free” is the operative word here as in, “you get what you pay for” free.

Most stations make their account executives take on the added job of writing the copy. Still sound good to you? Think about it. These are the same persuasive A type personalities who persuaded you to purchase air time on their stations in the first place. Which do you think they would rather be doing? Being strapped to their desk writing your ad copy, or out selling more time and making commissions off another sale? Plus, most have as much experience writing convincing ad copy as you do. So they either have to write it themselves or pawn it off to the production guy who really, really doesn’t want to write it. After all, he’s not even making any commission! All he knows is that he’s got ten commercials to pound out including yours, (which is another reason many radio spots sound the same) before he can move on.

Now based on that info, do you think the account executive or the production guy really gives a rats behind whether or not your spot is entertaining and convincing? “No” is the correct box to check here.

If you take away anything from this article let it be this: the content of your radio spots are as important as the time you’ve purchased for them. And as proof to your ears, many advertisers miss this most important point. They end up paying a small ransom for their schedule, getting the times sent to them daily while keeping a close eye on when their spots run, all while forgetting that the most important part is the message itself.

Let’ review: you’re not a copywriter, the account executive would rather lose a limb than write it, and the production guy will give you about 10 minutes of his or her time knocking it out. What’s the solution? Hire an expert. After all, would you perform your own appendectomy? Let’s hope not. Some things just aren’t worth cutting corners for. Or body parts.

So where do you find someone who will write and produce your radio commercials? There are several avenues to explore here. First, I would be remiss not to mention my agency, The Eisenberg Agency, because we specialize in radio creative. But aside from that shameless plug, you can ask your radio account executives to suggest someone or you can search the web. Another idea would be to to call the company whose spots you’ve heard and liked and ask them who did their radio. Of course it would be a plus if the company or writer you chose has had prior experience writing for your particular business, but if they’re good it won’t really matter.

And just like the example above, when it comes to hiring a creative agency, you still get what you pay for. Be prepared for quotes that are all over the map. You may find a copywriter who will write the ad and then farm it out to a production house. You may find both in one shop. Just be sure and ask to hear and read samples of their work. Clever copy should perform two tasks. It should make the listener want to hear the spot and it should inform the listener about the product while doing so. There are many do’s and don’ts when writing copy that your copywriter should be very aware of. For example, you may hear some local ads that feel the need to repeat their phone number at the end of their spot four or five times but the truth is, radio is primarily a branding tool. By that I mean it works over time. Don’t expect the listener to remember everything that is said in your spots. Especially while she is driving down the road, headed to a client meeting and answering her cell phone while deciding what to have for dinner. Just keep your message simple, wrap it up in a clever way, and run the heck out of it.

Finally, and I feel the need to say this on behalf of all fellow copywriters out there - let the professional copywriter write the copy. You should supply them with bullet points, the most important points you wish to get across, but let them work their magic and trust them to know what will and won’t work on the radio. And if you are a closet comedian and feel the need to express yourself, try amateur night at the local comedy club first before spending your hard earned money on a spot that you and your fellow employees think is just “freakin hilarious”. Also, when giving your copywriter bullet points, keep in mind that trying to fit in more than three of them may overwhelm the listener’s ears and make them tune your spot out. Sure you’ve been in business for over 12 years, but listeners don’t have to hear about every item or feature you have. I can’t tell you how many spots I hear daily where the poor copywriter was forced to try to change the laws of physics by cramming 3 minutes of copy into a sixty second ad.

Your radio ads could be the driving force behind your brand while at the same time driving your cash register into make those little ringing sounds if you do it right. Good luck and I look forward to hearing your spots. Really, I do!

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