Like TV commercials, radio adverts can be a very effective way of promoting your business, amplifying your brand awareness and boosting your sales. They can also be extremely ineffective if you go about them the wrong way.
The airwaves are heaving with radio commercials that are – let’s be honest – dire. Some are cringeworthy, some are annoying, and some are so banal and unoriginal that they barely register with listeners.
But this gives businesses an advantage. With so many bad radio ads out there, it’s much easier for a great one to stand out. The question is, how do you write a great radio ad?
Add characters and a plot
Some conventional or ‘straight’ radio commercials just reel off a list of facts: what, where, when, how much. These get the message across, but they’re uninspiring and they don’t grab attention.
Ideally you want to create two or three characters (depending on how much time you have) and a story that cleverly incorporates your sales points.
You end up with a commercial that is not as much a hard sell. A human story with relatable characters can get across your sales messages in a much more effective way. It means you’re not aggressively and obviously cajoling your listeners into buying. Rather, you’re subtly conveying the benefits of what you’re selling in a more natural way.
Having said that, characters and plot are only more effective if you do them right
I said that you need to create a story that cleverly incorporates your sales points. I’ve seen and heard too many TV and radio adverts with characters that just recite all the sales points in the midst of a conversation. For example:
Have you seen my new vacuum cleaner?
No, I haven’t.
Check this out. It has fantastic suction, you don’t need to change the bag and it’s great for homes with pets. Best of all, it only costs £349.99.
Wow – sounds like I need to get one!
Nobody talks like this – except in bad radio and TV commercials. Listeners can see right through them and will either switch off and ignore your advert or worse, be annoyed by it. Let your characters speak like normal people. Yes, you still need to convey your sales points, but you need to think about how to do this in as natural and realistic a way as possible. That involves a bit of creativity.
For example, I wrote a 30-second radio commercial for “Grasshopper Coaches” as part of my copywriting diploma. The main benefits I needed to get across were how comfortable the coaches were, the regularity of the service and the low cost. Here’s what I wrote:
Where you headed?
There’s a new play on in London I’m desperate to see.
Oh, great! When’s the showing?
This coach is too comfortable. I haven’t been able to make it off yet.
Grasshopper Coaches offers regular services from Aldershot to London on comfortable coaches and at low prices. Your Grasshopper Coach will get you to the theatre. Whether you’ll want to get off again is another matter. Visit grasshoppercoaches.com and book your seat today.
For this advert, I chose not to try and relay all the benefits as part of the conversation between Roger and Agatha. Instead I decided to weave a story around one of the benefits: the comfortableness of the coaches. I then used the narrator voiceover at the end to state the other benefits and the call to action.
Do you see the difference between this advert and the last one? The characters and their interactions are more real, and it plays on something that everyone can relate to, i.e. when you’re sat in a comfortable chair, you really don’t want to get up. The advert uses character humour to get the message across.
Next month, in “How to write better radio commercials, part 2”, I will offer some further tips on how to improve your radio ads. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me on on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07411 331721, or leave a comment below. And if you found this blog useful, please like and share it!
As a freelance copywriter, I’m trained to write effective radio commercials and I can help your business be the loudest voice on the airwaves.