How to Write a Radio Advert

Trying out a new style of writing can be intimidating but a radio advert usually follows a simple script and there are several principles you can stick to for a high conversion rate every time. While you don’t necessarily want to follow a strict template, some general guidelines can help you figure out how to write a radio advertising script that sells.

You have less than a minute to grip the listener with your words, so there isn’t a second to lose.

Whether you’re a copywriter, a broadcaster, or a freelance writer looking to branch out, this guide will help you to create compelling radio ads.

Types of Radio Ad Script

Before you start writing, you should know what type of radio ad script you’re opting for.

Listed below are 5 the most popular types of radio advertising scripts:

  1. Situational/Personified
    The situational ad is like a role-play between two or more voice actors. This type of advert aims to engage the listener through dialogue, tell a story and talk up the product in question.  Situational adverts tend to use testimonials or script a situation in which the product is the hero.
  2. Jingle
    The jingle is probably the best known of all types of radio advertising.  The Jingle is designed to establish a connection with the listener that will strengthen with repetition. The words you use for a jingle should have rhyme or rhythm to enhance the ad’s effectiveness and stay in the listener’s mind long after they’ve heard it.
  3. Live Read
    This is when the host, personality or speaker reads out your scripted copy live on air.  Scripts of this type are usually quite short and consist of the company’s name, a brief mention of what they do/or offer (key message) the strapline/tagline, and a brief CTA (call to action).
  4. Straight Read
    A straight read script is a simple monologue read out by a single speaker. This style of ad is a good choice for complex products which require well-thought-out explanation.
  5. Radio Sponsorships
    This style of radio advertising is particularly popular as companies can align themselves with events, programmes or personalities that reflect their brand values.  Sponsorships are also a great way of engaging with the audience through competitions or rewards.  Sponsorship of the news, travel or weather slots can offer regular reinforcement of your brand and key message at times when additional listeners may tune in.

Selecting the length of the advert

One of the trickiest aspects of writing copy for radio adverts is settling on the optimum length of the advert.  For this, you need to weigh up what information you need to deliver (including any legal wording depending on the product or service), against your budget and objectives.

Usually, a radio ad will be 15, 30, or 60 seconds long. Here you need to look at the demographics, when can you reach your optimum target audience?  Consider the frequency of the selected spots and reach. To make an informed decision you need to work out what works for your business.  The radio station can provide you with detailed information to help you to select the best option.

Think about the purpose of the advert, what are your objectives? Don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve.

Whatever ad length you select, you’ll need to craft impactful copy that focuses on your key message. Use the first few seconds to hook them in and keep them interested with concise storytelling.

Key components for an effective radio advert

AIDA

Crafting a good radio advert script is a masterclass in direct marketing.  If you have a background in marketing or copywriting you will no doubt be familiar with the AIDA formula (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action).

This is a popular acronym in the copywriting community, referring to a marketing tactic designed to hone your copy to deliver results.  Given the speed that you need to move the listener through this process for radio, it’s a powerful tool to have in your arsenal when writing a script.

To find out more about how the AIDA formula can help to guide your radio script copy, read our blog article on The AIDA Formula and how to use it.

Key Messages

Your key messages are simply the pieces of information that you want the listener to take away. Once you’ve honed them, convert those messages into easily digestible sound bites.  Sound bites are a great way to deliver your key messages in a clear and memorable way for the listener and are designed to stay in their mind long after they’ve heard it.  Keep it short, simple and clear.

USPs (Unique Selling Point)

Every product or service needs a USP that makes it stand out from the competition. 

Whether that’s a great price or an exciting feature, you need to use it to pique the listener’s interest.

Remember to keep it simple.  You don’t have much time so chose your words carefully for maximum impact.

When drafting the script, you can create desire by introducing the product as the ‘hero’. This is a great way to engage the listener and demonstrate your understanding of their needs by identifying how the product solves their problem or improves their situation. If it’s a jingle, you can focus on the USP and establish the product as the best in its category.

CTA (Call to Action)

This is hands-down the most important element for radio ad copy. Without a CTA, you’ll leave the listeners with a memorable ad but nothing more. The CTA is crucial for all forms of copy, but especially radio ads, as you only have one opportunity to appeal to the listener, so make it count.

To assist with measurement, you can offer listeners a discount as part of your CTA. For example, “Get 20% off your first order with discount code RADIO20 throughout April.” it’s worth making any offers time-bound to create a sense of urgency and to avoid any confusion.

To create a CTA that converts, you need to give the listener a compelling reason to take action and make it clear how to do it.

One thing you can do to cement the product or service in the listener’s mind is to create a jingle around the website name or company slogan. Imagine that your average listener is driving around listening to the radio, you have to ensure that when they get home they instantly know what website to head to – that’s what you’re aiming for.

Test your Radio Script

When you test your radio script, pay attention to the following elements to see if you hit the mark or not.

Back to the brief

Check it against your brief – does it tick the required boxes? Does it fit with your brand?

Listen and Learn

Read the script aloud for others to get some opinions on how you can improve it.  Check if they found it engaging, if they could recall the key messages and was the CTA clear?

It might sound obvious but listen to different radio adverts. Think about which ones stand out and why? What makes them work? Does your copy measure up? Dissect them to analyse the way the copy covers each element, from AIDA, use of hard and soft sell, engagement and sound bites.

Connect with the Audience

The number one priority for any radio ad is to resonate with the audience.

If you fail to do this, you’ll lose their attention before you have a chance to impress them.

With any good copy, connecting and engaging with your target audience is vital.

Energy and Pacing

The energy and pacing of a radio ad can make all the difference.  Great copy if delivered in a flat uninspiring way is an instant turn off for listeners.  Select the best voice actor/s that bring the script alive.  Think about the use of music, sound effects, jingles etc.  How does the ad flow?

Work with the radio company or agency to get this spot on and don’t be afraid to make copy changes if areas for improvement come to light during the process. It is worth taking the time to get the copy spot on.

Summary

Crafting an effective radio script is an art, but by following these basic principles you can produce a radio script that delivers results.  The key is to get your ideas down and work through each stage, honing your copy along the way. 

Discuss your copy ideas with the radio station.  They want your ad to work as much as you do and have people with vast experience that can help you to create the best radio advert for your business.

FAQs:

How many words is a 60-second radio ad?

A 60-second radio ad shouldn’t exceed 170 words or go much below 150 words.

How many words is a 30-second radio ad?

A 30-second radio ad should be somewhere in the region of 70-90 words.

What is the format for a radio ad?

A radio ad can adopt the format of a dialogue, monologue script, or a jingle. Each requires a slightly different approach, and they can all be equally effective.

What makes a great radio commercial?

A great radio commercial has all the elements needed to convert the listener from interest to action. This generally means you need to develop a CTA, establish a connection with your audience, and offer up a tempting solution to a problem the listener can relate to.

How do you structure a radio advert?

The structure of your radio ad will depend on whether it’s a jingle, a dialogue, or a monologue script. Whatever the case, make sure to include key elements such as a CTA and a solution the product or service provides.

About Gemma Wright

I'm Gemma Wright, co-owner of ProCopyTips and a freelance PR consultant and copywriter. Having worked as a PR Manager for large financial services companies in the UK, I now focus on helping small and growing businesses to thrive through the power of effective communications.

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