10 Hacks for Your Next Radio Commercial


Radio, on and offline, is still a great media value for reaching target demographic groups and building frequency. And Internet radio, which reaches an estimated 47% of all Americans, is fueling the flames. To help you get the most out of your next campaign, we compiled a list of our favorite radio and audio hacks:

  1. Never forget that a radio commercial  is a visual medium. People hear words and see an HD movie in their head. If you can imagine it – a three-headed talking goat, for example – you can create it in the mind’s eye of your audience.
  2. Not everyone has a Bose sound system in their car, so it’s crucial to experience how the 99 percenters will hear your spot. Most studios can simulate small speakers.
  3. Read the spot out loud several times before heading to the studio. If a phrase is difficult for you to pronounce, or the syntax is awkward, it will hang up the talent, too.
  4. Choose talent that doesn’t work regularly in your targeted markets. They will help your spot pop. Get the best talent you can afford, and don’t automatically accept what the studio or radio station has to offer. Otherwise, be contrarian in your selection. If your competitors sound like the local radio announcers, use an ethnic voice. If they tap male announcer types, hire a female actor who can make a casual delivery.
  5. Most spots that aren’t for auctioneer services should be written short. While 130 words for a 60-second spot is fairly common, we prefer 110 to 120. Why? That’s a normal speaking tempo for a homosapian, and it gives the producer room to place sound effects most effectively.
  6. Silence is your secret weapon. Use it before an important copy point, which should not be a phone number. We need to keep our customers alive, and prevent them from using their phones while driving. Why? Different smartphones have different pairings of numbers and letters. Better yet, use an URL that’s free of homonyms (different words that sound the same).
  7. Don’t use talent with a real or fake British accent ever. Never. Just don’t do it. Hungarian. Okay. Texas redneck. Okay. Just not British.
  8. Make spots that are compatible with the formats and stations you’ve selected. This doesn’t mean you need a country music bed for a spot running on a country station. But you shouldn’t use fake or real British accents that scream, “We don’t get you!”
  9. You are speaking to one person who’s driving, listening through ear buds, or engaged in work. DO NOT YELL AT PEOPLE. The whole point of radio is to have a real conversation one on one.
  10. Music. Most advertisers use an obligatory music bed, but unless the tune reinforces the spot’s message, it’s just noise. Produce your spot dry and grab more attention.

Radio is a blast online and off. You may not have a TV budget for a base-jumping mariachi band, but you can sure do it on radio.

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