5 tips to make your radio ads grab attention and sell

To drive leads and revenues, radio ads are still a powerful and effective tool for your business — in fact, every week, over 90% of Americans listen to the radio. Better still, there are several great, booming online radio options like Pandora and Spotify, with highly segmented audiences that you can target.

(Looks like video did NOT kill the radio star.)

With smart ads, you’ll reach customers and increase your sales through radio. But what are the essentials to a great audio-only ad? How do you convey the right message? More importantly, how do you get them to act when they’re nowhere near a computer or a pen and paper? Read on and we’ll show you five powerful tips to create strong radio copy, resulting in radio commercials that hook your listeners in and get them to buy.

Good radio ads tip #1: Know the audience

Whether on television, video, radio, or print ads, you need to know what audience will be consuming your ad. How old are they? What’s their gender? What are their income levels or spending habits? Can you describe the person that’s most likely to hear your radio commercial?

Because different radio stations have different demographics, make sure you target the right audience. For example, you wouldn’t put an advertisement targeted for teenagers on a golden oldies station just like you wouldn’t put an AARP radio commercial on the local hip-hop channel.

Find the relevant stations, channels, or shows where the demographics fit your consumer market. For example, if you’re trying to sell a new energy drink, target stations with a younger, outgoing audiences like alternative rock, hip-hop, or metal channels.

Good radio ads tip #2: Start strong

If you can’t get the listeners attention, you’ve lost the battle. If your listener is in a car, they might switch the station. If they are online, they might mute the commercial.

Good radio copy is short. Don’t waste time with boring introductions or verbose explanations because most radio slots are short: Get straight to the point and start hammering the benefits. Since you’ve taken the time to know your audience and what they want, you can craft a powerful intro that captures their attention and creates interest.

Many of Pandora’s own advertisements start with, “Hey Pandora listeners!” — it grabs the listener’s attention because, hey, they are listening to Pandora. Their ears will perk up.

Try adding an endearing jingle or a funny story or dialogue to keep the audience listening along. Also, avoid confusing the listeners with complicated words or sentence structures.

Here’s an ad that gets straight to the point with benefits:

Here’s what an ad that tells a story sounds like:

Good radio ads tip #3: An awesome voiceover

Radio is the art of speaking effectively. Without a visual medium, everything relies on the voice, tone, pace, variety, and emotion. The speaker needs to sound scared, excited, nervous, calm, etc. if that’s the feel of the commercial; failing to get the perfect sound for your ad will lead to wasted sales and, worse, wasted money.

Get a professional voiceover to fits the message of your commercial and demographic of listeners. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do so — browse VoiceBunny’s great options for voice actors who specifically do radio ads.

Here’s how to get a voiceover that matches the messaging of a clothing store:

Good radio ads tip #4: Always be testing

In the epic scene of Glenngary Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin berates the entire staff, he yells over and over again: “Always Be Closing. ABC.”

(This gets a tad vulgar, by the way…)

For your radio ads, however, remember: Always Be Testing.

With advertisements, never trust your intuition — instead, test your radio ad campaign over and over again and see what works. A simple way is to create two radio ads with different introductions, scripts, or call-to-actions and air one ad 50% of the time and air the other ad 50% of the time. Then, each commercial will funnel their listeners to a separate URL or phone number.

Collect the data for a few weeks or even months, analyze which ad outperformed the other and go with the winner. You can continue testing your winning ad, trying different introductions or call-to-actions and, soon, you may have an ad that converts over 300% better than your first version.

The numbers never lie.

Good radio ads tip #5: A simple and strong call-to-action (CTA)

Ask yourself: What is the one thing you want them to do at the end of the radio commercial?

Visit your website? Call a phone number? Visit your store? Whatever it is, make it crystal clear to your audience.

Then, keep it simple, silly. Unlike explainer videos on websites or squeeze pages, radio listeners can’t click on a button while driving in a car or listening to IHeartRadio while on a treadmill. Heck, many of them don’t have the chance to write down a phone number on a piece of paper or memorize a complicated URL. (I know I can’t… especially when I’m driving.) Make the next step a breeze by following a few simple rules:

  • Make your phone number easy to remember. For example, (800)ABC-DEFG is the famous number for Hooked on Phonics, from their radio commercial. It’s relevant and cinch to retain.
  • Make your URL simple or use words that fit your mission. “Rememberthemilk.com” is an online to-do list that simplifies task management. (It’s also a clever and memorable name.)
  • Repeat your CTA several times. They may not have caught it the first time because they’re still digesting your information.
  • Get them to act. If your listener hears your radio commercial and becomes interested, you need to strike when the iron is hot; otherwise, they’ll put it on the back burner along with the hundreds of other things they need to think about. Give them a limited-time offer. Explain that the first 100 callers will get a special discount. Create a sense of urgency and give them an irresistible incentive.

Here’s an ad that repeats its name for easy memorization:

Remember…

  1. Know the audience and understand who is listening to your ad before writing the radio copy.
  2. Grab attention by starting strong.
  3. Use a great voice over to convey the right message and resonate with the audience.
  4. Always test your advertisements to get the best results.
  5. Finish with a strong call-to-action to strike when the listener is motivated.

For more of the exact things you can do to make an incredible radio ad — as well as what to say and what not to say — check out our guide to creating radio ads that convert.