Most small businesses do not have a high powered
advertising agency to produce award-winning radio
commercials for them. Most award-winning radio
commercials win for the wrong reasons anyway.
Radio commercials should sell the benefits (not
features)of your business/product and should be
on the same page with print, TV and billboard. A
major problem in business advertising today is the
lack of coordination of a campaign where all media
are targeting the same message. The newspaper ad
says one thing and the radio commercial
doesn't seem to fit anywhere. Wasted money. Hit
'em with the same message across the board and you
increase your reach.
Radio commercials at smaller radio stations are
typically created by the radio salespeople or the
announcers. In most cases, neither are trained at
selling benefits. It's your money and you
shouldn't spend it on amateurish and/or totally
The biggest mistake many business people make is
letting the station staff come up with the
commercial copy and finished product. When they
play it for you, you can tell they really love it.
They wrote it, maybe they voiced it. It's me, me,
me. They love all the fun they had making it. They
don't know squat about selling benefits.
Effective radio commercials
Remember Tom Bodett for Motel six? A great
campaign, it was Tom delivering the benefit for
staying at the motel with a little music in the
background. Award winning. And Motel Six business
shot off the charts. Benefits sell. Yet few local
radio people would be comfortable with a straight
voice Tom Bodett style ad. They want you to feel
like you are really getting something for your
money. so they produce a grand scale dud.
Here are BIG Mike's tips for better commercials
Don't Do It Yourself
You may be able to write it, after a little
practice, but don't get fooled into thinking you
can do it better than a professional announcer.
The radio people will want you to voice it because
some of your fiends will tell you they heard you
on the radio and you will be convinced radio
works. Phooey. That's an old way to sell ads. The
high powered ad agency worked with David Orreck
for several days to get those vacuum cleaner
commercials to sound like one-takes.
Avoid two-voice "slice-of-life" ads
Many are made by dragging the receptionist into
the studio to play the wife or mother and the
result is something that sounds like the junior
high school drama class made it.
Steer clear of characterizations
The last of the great character actors on radio
was Mel Blanc and he died 20 years ago. An 18 year
old kid trying to sound like a crusty ol' sea
captain doesn't get it.
Don't try humor - it ain't funny
Remember the main reason to advertise, WIIFM,
What's In It for Me, that's what they want to
know. Sell benefits. Take a poll, no one cares
about a cutesy commercial, they care about what's
in it for them. Yet, every radio station in the
country has at least one would-be Bob Hope who
thinks he can out-funny the pros. It doesn't work.
Consider how you feel when you hear one on the
radio. It sure doesn't explain why you should
visit the store, unless it is to punch out the
owner for being so stupid. Ditch the lame humor
for real substance
90 Seconds into 30 Won't Go.
The power of the pause is important in radio
commercials. Too many radio people take you
literally when you tell them what you want in your
commercial and try to get it all in one ad.
Instead, ask them to create several that will
rotate on the air. Take your time to explain the
Don't buy anything longer than 30 seconds
Some station price 60s double what they charge
for 30 seconds, other plus up the 30 rate by 20 or
25 percent. Either way, you don't need a 60. Make
two 30s and get more exposure and save more money.
Heck, if you can say the entire Lord's Prayer in
20 seconds, you can sure sell your benefits in 30.
Ask for an out-of-market voice
These days with email audio attachments, many
radio stations share voices around the country.
You can get a voice thousands of miles away that
will do ads only for you. In turn the station
announcer who would have done your ads, does one
for that station, an even trade. The exchange
takes only seconds, no one does any more work and
the cost to the advertiser is zero.
Be sure your radio ads sell the same benefits at
the same time as your newspaper, shopper and other
print and billboard ads. Plan your advertising
well in advance, just like the other parts of your
For more about advertising, get my article "Cable
Ads 5 Bucks!" Send a blank eMail to
?2005 BIG Mike McDaniel All Rights Reserved
BIG Mike is a Professional Speaker and Small
Business Consultant with over 30 years experience,
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